London 2012 Olympic gold medallist and Czech mountain biking star Jaroslav Kulhavy added the UCI MTB Marathon World Championships title to his list of international titles when he powered to an emphatic win at a sun soaked Cascades MTB Park today, Sunday 29 June.
Kulhavy was satisfied with the way his race had gone and was relieved to tick off the marathon world title. “I am very happy because it was the last title that I didn't have and really wanted to get. Today was a big day for me and I was really satisfied because this season hasn't been that good for me. I was injured and had a lot of technical problems at cross-country races so it was really satisfying to win today.”
The race was characterised by the constant jostling of positions as the riders attempted to close the gap on Kulhavy. The Specialized Racing rider showed good form to stave off the attacks.
“My race went to plan even though it was was really hard,” said Kulhavy of his victory. “I decided to attack after the fifth feed zone on the downhill and got a minute gap. I pushed hard to the finish after that and didn't look back.”
After a slow start, second place finisher Alban Lakata patiently manoeuvred his way through the field and established himself at the front of the field towards the end of the race. The Austrian star appreciated the performance from Kulhavy and admitted that the winner was in a class of his own.
“He (Kulhavy) was unbeatable today,” Lakata admitted. “Finishing second behind the Olympic champion, and ahead of a three-time World Champion, Christoph Sauser, is a great thing for me and I have now got three silver medals and one gold. I am happy about my race today.”
The race had its fair share of drama as defending World Champion Christoph Sauser suffered a substantial mechanical, which cost him valuable time and effectively ended his bid to defend his title. He proceeded to work his way back up the field to finish in third.
“First of all congratulations to Jaroslav, it was an awesome ride from him and he showed his form at Euros two weeks ago. It was all good today until the portage section of the course and I was on and off the bike the whole time and when I was carrying my bike and hit a rock with my chain ring and it took me forever to get it back working,” Sauser explained.
The South African charge was led by two-time South African marathon champion James Reid who finished 17th overall when he crossed the line ahead of compatriot Rourke Croeser. Reid was quick to describe the challenge of racing against the best riders in the world.
“It was brutal out there; it was a straight out sufferfest from the gun. I didn't have a great grid position but I managed to get into the top 10 in the first three kilometres, which was about the highlight. The guys in the top 10 are in a different league and if you try and go with them you are going to be a firework, which I just avoided,” a relieved Reid mentioned.
Taking part in a world-class event on home soil was something that Reid knew was going to work in his favour and having raced the national championships at the same venue a few weeks prior to Sunday he had a good idea of what to expect.
“It wasn't the most ideal build up but considering we raced this track two weeks ago it was solid. The best way to describe would be a cross-country race of 90 minutes with three hours bolted onto the end, that's how hard these guys go out at the start,” the Trek SA rider added.
Summary of Results – 2014 UCI MTB Marathon World Championships
1 Jaroslav Kulhavy (CZE) 04:15:587
2 Alban Lakata (AUT) 04:19:15
3 Christoph Sauser (SUI) 04:20:11
4 Urs Huber (SUI) 04:22:56
5 Jukka Vastaranta (FIN) 04:23:25
6 Bartlomiej Wawak (POL) 04:23:38
7 Roel Paulissen (BEL) 04:24:05
8 Robert Mennen (GER) 04:25:44
9 Periklis Ilias (GRE) 04:26:54
10 Moritz Milatz (GER) 04:27:09
11 Jiri Novak (CZE) 04:29:35
12 Tiago Jorge Oliveira Ferreira (POR) 04:30:25
13 Fredrik Ericsson (SWE) 04:31:27
14 Tony Longo (ITA) 04:32:01
15 Simon Stiebjahn (GER) 04:32:39
16 Hector Leonardo Paez Leon (COL) 04:33:21
17 James Reid (RSA) 04:34:09
18 Rourke Croeser (RSA) 04:34:53
19 Stefan Sahm (GER) 04:34:53
20 Cory Wallace (CAN) 04:35:26
More information can be found at the event website www.mtbworldchamps.co.za
Source: 2014 UCI MTB Marathon World Champs press release
Photo: Darren Goddard/Gameplan Media