The weather continues to favour the Championships, with summer-like conditions bringing out thousands of fans. The local Norwegian spectators were hoping to see home favourite Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa win her fifth title, but the mountain biking legend could only manage ninth.
Catharine Pendrel, who won the title in 2011, dominated the six lap women’s race from the start, opening a 17 second gap on Irina Kalentieva (Russia) and Maja Wloszczowska (Poland) in the first lap. Wloszczowska gradually fell off the pace, with Kalentieva holding Pendrel to a 35 second lead over the next few laps. Behind, Lea Davison of the United States had steadily worked her way up to sit in third with two laps to go.
Pendrel’s lead was up to 43 seconds on the final lap when she became the latest of many riders to suffer a flat on the sharp rocks scattered throughout the course. Luckily, she was close to a technical zone and had a quick wheel change, to maintain her lead and finish 21 seconds ahead of Kalentieva. Davison took third, 43 seconds back.
“I like to race from the front,” confirmed Pendrel, “and when there’s an opportunity to take the lead you should go for it. That’s always the kind of racer I have been. If you want to win the Worlds you have got to be willing to take some chances and go out strong. When I came through the finish line after the first lap and saw that I was 20 seconds faster than my Team Relay lap, I was pretty happy, and I felt that I could maintain it.”
“I knew Irina was coming behind me, and I knew that she had won here the year before [at the World Cup], so I had to stay on the gas. Then, with half a lap to go, I got a front puncture and I was lucky to have amazing technical support, and the fastest wheel change ever, and get back on the bike to win the world championship.”