The relay day amongst the depression forest and vineyards of Alonte again saw riders battling sweltering heat. However the shorter nature of the courses made for exciting racing, as did the spectator loop. The latter had riders zipping in and around village shops and restaurants, including a stair descent with a sharp turn.
Both Australian teams were determined to do well and didn’t disappoint.
The juniors were hoping to podium like last year and got so so close. Chris and Mark both rode strongly but with a mistake or two while the in form Tom Goddard had very little time loss and was 5-7 minutes faster. In racing the final leg Marc caught the Czech team and had a head to head duel with Krystof Bogar, the middle distance champion. Coming down the last vineyard track there were elbows flying to gain the front position for the steep rise and corner into the last control. The bigger Czech guy won out but Marc valiantly closed the gap in the final metres to just a wheel length.
Our elite guys all had pretty consistent rides and were relatively happy. Oscar Phillips stepped up against the big boys doing the anchor leg and navigated carefully to ensure we came in 11th, with two teams within a minute just ahead. After being ranked 16th last year, that was a pleasing result.
Many of the placegetters were separated by small time gaps. None more so than the JWOC women where Russia beat Finland by a mere second. Denmark WOC women “lost” the bronze when world champion Rikke Kornvig failed to record a punch on one control. In more controversial circumstances the Polish junior team have been DSQ’ed from tomorrow’s sprint after having been found in the embargoed area today!
Saturday’s sprint, the final event of the Championships, is at Sossano. This will be a mixture of urban area and forest with many controls. Elite men have 9km, 145m climb and 23 controls. The predicted temperature will be a “cool” 31 degrees. Starts are from 2pm (10pm Australian time).
Chris Firman 2.07 Alex Randall 2.15 Oscar Phillips 2.23 Tom Goddard 2.33
Marc Gluskie 3.01 Melanie Simpson 3.10 Steven Cusworth 3.11
Kay Haarsma (coach)
JWOC MEN JWOC WOMEN
1 2.11.05 Denmark 1 2.10.59 Russia
2 2.11.53 Russia 2 2.11.53 Finland
3 2.15.23 Finland 3 2.17.02 Czech
6 2.28.05 Czech
7 2.28.05 Australia Firman (50.16), Goddard (45.47), Gluskie (52.02)
WOC MEN WOC WOMEN
1 2.40.51 Denmark 1 2.42.57 Switzerland
2 2.42.59 Czech 2 2.46.02 Lithuania
3 2.43.59 Finland 3 2.47.58 Slovakia
11 3.03.11 Australia Cusworth (57.41) Randall (59.31) Phillips (65.59)