Gold and bronze for Jolanda Neff and Thomas Litscher
MTB Worlds Cairns
The Elite women's race saw a group of seven form at the front, with Neff and Annie Last of Great Britain setting the pace. The pair dropped everyone else by the end of the first lap and rode together until the fourth lap, when the WINFORCE athlete attacked, quickly opening a 22 second gap. By the penultimate fifth lap the gap was up to two minutes and Neff could coast to her first Elite title. Last took the silver medal, while Pauline Ferrand Prevot of France, the 2015 world champion, took bronze.
"I just wanted to win it so much", admitted Neff, individual an Team Relay World Champion. "The last three years I couldn't win the World Champs, it has been three years since my last win [as an Under-23]. Coming into this race, for the first time, I knew I was kind of healthy and that things could be. I wanted to win it so badly, I just wanted to go at every chance I could get. I just pushed from start to finish. I am over the moon. I am so happy."
The Elite men’s race quickly became a battle between Nino Schurter and 2012 Olympic champion Jaroslav Kulhavy of the Czech Republic. Henerique Avancini of Brazil and Thomas Litscher of Switzerland bridged up to join them on the third lap, with the Brazilian dropped a lap later, leaving Kulhavy against two Swiss riders. However, it wasn't until the final climb on the last lap, when Schurter attacked and Kulhavy made a mistake in a corner, that the Swiss rider was finally able to get away, hanging on to win by a slim seven seconds. Former Junior and U23 World Champion Thomas Litscher took his first medal in the Elite category, followed by Lukas Flückiger (6th), Julien Absalon (7th) and Reto Indergand (10th) of the BMC MTB Racing Team.
Photo: KROSS Racing Team