• Thomas Bonnet tackling the technical 'Rock and Roll' section enroute to victory (Rob Jones)Source: Rob Jones
The first day of Cross-country Olympic (XCO) competition at the 2016 Mountain Bike World Championships took place on Friday, in Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic, with the Junior races for men and women. Ida Jansson of Sweden took the women's title and Thomas Bonnet of France the men's.
By
Robert Jones

3 Jul 2016 - 8:07 AM  UPDATED 6 Jul 2016 - 8:10 AM

Held in the wooded, rolling countryside 90 minutes southeast of Prague, Nove Mesto offered a tough 4.1 kilometre cross-country (XCO) circuit, with half of it climbing.  From the starting arena, the riders headed out through a rock garden then up a long climb followed by an immediate descent and a second long climb.  After descending through a difficult rock garden, the riders hit the longest sustained climb, then went over a drop off and straight back up to the highest part of the course.  The final descent took them to the flatter portion of the circuit, where they faced the famous Rock n' Roll technical section before heading into the stadium for the end of the lap.  

In the junior womens, young Swede Ida Jansson went to the front of the race on the starting loop and never relinquished the lead.  Martina Berta of Italy led the chase for the first lap of the three lap race, before eventually being caught by Lisa Pasteiner of Austria.

Pasteiner managed to pull to within 15 seconds of Jansson, but couldn't quite close the gap, finishing second at 25 seconds.  Berta held on for third, but faded in the second half of the race to finish nearly two minutes back.  The only Australian was Sarah I'Ons who finished in 43rd place.

For Jansson, it was a strong return to racing after breaking her wrist before the European Championships. "It is the best day of my life!  I had hard luck earlier in the year and wasn't sure of my form, but I felt very good out there today."

 

The junior mens took longer to develop as the eventual winner Bonnet did not pull away from his rivals until the halfway mark of the four lap race.  An initial group of five formed at the front of the race, containing Bonnet, Vital Albin (Switzerland), Chris Blevins (USA), Quinton Disera (Canada) and Axel Zingle (France).  Albin and Blevins were the last to get dropped, with Bonnet steadily pulling away to win by 36 seconds over Albin.  Albin and Blevins were together entering the final lap, but the American had a mechanical problem, dropping him the fourth and enabling a late surging Tobias Halland Johannessen (Norway) to take the bronze medal.  The top Australian was Kian Lerch-MacKinnon in 27th place.

Bonnet came charging through the finish with his head down and had to be flagged down from starting another lap.  "I was so focussed on the race that I did not realize it was the last lap," he explained.  "I was concerned about (Albin), so I keep going as hard as I could.  It is fantastic to win."