Neff takes world title as SA's Strauss ends eighth | SASCOC - SASCOC

Neff takes world title as SA’s Strauss ends eighth

Friday’s Under-23 women’s Cross Country clash at the UCI MTB & Trials World Championships at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg saw a complete domination from Switzerland’s Jolanda Neff as she powered home to a comprehensive victory.

That also saw her achieve the rare feat of successfully defending the rainbow stripes she claimed in Austria in 2012.

And South Africa also got into the mix with Mariske Strauss, right, racing to a top 10 and Olympian Candice Neethling claiming 14th spot.

ÔÇ£Last year’s win was the first time I’d ever won the world championships so that was amazing. This year was a bit different but to win another world title is incredible and still very special,ÔÇØ said Neff.

ÔÇ£I felt quite a bit of pressure before the European Champs and I’d had a bit of difficulty leading up to that race so for the Worlds I tried to just relax as much as I could.

Having started the second lap of the five-lap clash out in front, Neff was then caught off-guard by eventual second place finisher Pauline Ferrand Prevot (France) shortly before the start of the treacherous Tree House rock garden and the pair went into the technically challenging section side by side.

ÔÇ£I didn’t expect Pauline to come past me so when she did I was very angry with myself and so as we went into the rock garden I decided I would take whichever line she didn’t. Fortunately it worked out for me, I got ahead and that ended up being the move that made the difference so I was pretty happy in the end.

Despite a brave effort from second place finisher, the French star just had no answer to the power of the Swiss athlete with Ukraine’s Yana Belomoyna coming home in third and rounding out the podium.

ÔÇ£I felt good on the climbs and pretty good in the technical sections too but it was just not enough to win today,ÔÇØ said Ferrand Prevot. ÔÇ£When Jolanda came past me I felt good so I thought I could just stay with her on the downhill and then attack on the climb but she was just too good.ÔÇØ

Having ridden out on her own for much of the race, Switzerland’s Andrea Waldis was then heartbreakingly passed by both Helen Grobert (Germany) and Jenny Rissveds (Sweden) however determination and fight from last year’s junior world champion saw her pull herself back up to Rissveds in the closing few meters and narrowly edge out the Swede to take fifth position.

After two separate yet equally brutal falls in the Tree House rock garden Switzerland’s Linda Indergand managed to hang on, eventually claiming seventh place whilst South Africa’s Under-23 star Mariske Strauss also recovered from a nasty fall in exactly the same part of the course to claim a career defining eighth place whilst the South African number two, Candice Neethling, claimed a hard-fought fourteenth.

ÔÇ£I had a problem with my cleats early in the race and also got caught up in a big pile up so I had to get through quite a lot and really had to fight back to get myself in a good position,” said Strauss afterwards.

ÔÇ£I took a tumble at the rock garden which put me back a bit but I just kept telling myself to ride constantly and to not freak out otherwise it could have gone wrong for me.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£This is my best World Champs result and I was aiming for a top five but after what I went through I am happy with eighth.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£I really learnt a lot about my riding out there and after my chain problem I just wanted to keep it steady to the end.ÔÇØ

1 Jolanda Neff (SUI) 1:25.44
2 Pauline Ferrand Prevot (FRA) +02.26
3 Yana Belomoyna (UKR) +03:45
4 Helen Grobert (GER) +05.59
5 Andrea Waldis (SUI) +06.31
6 Jenny Rissveds (SWE) +06.31
7 Linda Indergand (SUI) +07.20
8 Mariske Strauss (RSA) +09.07
9 Maghalie Rochette (CAN) +09.48
10 Rebecca Henderson (AUS) +10.03

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