The opening day of competition at the UCI MTB Masters World Championships at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg was one of great success for the local cross country riders as no less than twelve of the twenty-four medals available throughout the day went to South Africans.
Of the twelve local podium finishers five claimed gold and will return to their various communities as world champion of their age group with the coveted rainbow striped jersey to prove it.
The day’s action got underway with the all the women’s cross country events and 30-34 competitor Nedene Cahill claimed gold ahead of locally based Hungarian Eszter Erdelyi and fellow South African Jeannie Dreyer before Namibia based South African Genevieve Weber claimed the women’s 35-39 event.
Pocket-rocket competitor Natalie Bergstrom then made it three from three as she added a world championship title to the provincial, national and continental titles she claimed earlier in the year.
Canada’s Cathryn Zeglinski broke the local stars’ winning ways as she powered to victory in the 45-49 race with Norway’s Gjertrud Bø claiming the seventh world champion title of her career when she cruised home ahead of the rest in the 50-59 category.
The three men’s races of the day saw South African riders Paul Furbank (55-59) and Linus van Onselen (60-64) add to the local tally of golds before France’s Christian Jupillat earned the right to stand on the top step of the podium in the 65+ category.
In the men's Downhill seeded rides which took place on Friday afternoon it was Frenchman Laurestant Jean-Max was the fastest rider in the men's 30-34 category with Sousa Alcides from Brazil claiming the number one seed in the 35-39 category ahead of Saturday’s racing.
South African Myles Kelsey qualified handsomely as he took first place in his 40-44 category and the 45-49 category saw another South African, Chris Nixon, claim the number one spot.
The French claimed another top seed in the men's 50-54 as Jean-Pierre Bruni edged out Swiss rider Benoit Fellay by the slightest of margins whilst Max Schuster from Austria will start in poll position in the men's 55+ category.
The women's downhill field is substantially smaller than the men's consisting of two divisions, 30-39 and 40+. In the 30-39 category Tifenn Vialatte of France took the top seed and in the women's 40+ category South African Rika Olivier was the quickest and has claimed the top position going into the final tomorrow.
Preceding the downhill action, which gets underway at 13h00 on Saturday afternoon, are the men’s 50-54 (08:30) and 45-49 (10:30) cross-country events.
Likely to stake their claim for top honours in the 50-54 encounter are Sergio Ferrer (Argentina), Johan Geyser (South Africa), Craig Rankin (South Africa), Andrew McLean (South Africa) and Petrus Swiegers (Namibia) whilst defending world champ Jean-Paul Stephan (France) will be a tough nut to beat in the 45-49 event.
The UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships takes place at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg from 26 August to 1 September 2013, and will be preceded by the UCI MTB Masters World Championships from 21 to 25 August. More info can be found at www.mtbworldchamps.co.za
Issued on behalf of 2013 UCI MTB World Champs – PMB
Photo: Linus van Onselen (men 60-64), Gjertrud Bø (women 50-59), Cathryn Zeglinski (45-49), Christian Jupillat (men's 65+), Paul Furbank (men's 55-59), Nedene Cahill (women's 30-34), Genevieve Weber (women's 35-39) and Natalie Bergstrom (women's 40-44) sporting their world champion rainbow striped jerseys at the UCI MTB Masters World Championships 2013 at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg © Darren Goddard/?Gameplan Media