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Second place Pauline Ferrand Prevot (left) of France, Winner Jolanda Neff (centre) of Switzerland and third place Yana Belomoyna (right) of Ukraine enjoy their time on the podium after the under 23 women's cross country race at the UCI MTB and Trials World Championships 2013 at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg.

Photo: Darren Goddard/Gameplan Media

“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,” said Neff.

“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.

“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.

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Switzerland's Jolanda Neff defended her title after a storming performance in the under 23 women's cross country race at the UCI MTB and Trials World Championships 2013 at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg.

Photo: Darren Goddard/Gameplan Media

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.

“I felt good on the climbs and pretty good in the technical sections too but it was just not enough to win today,” said Ferrand Prevot. “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.”

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.

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South Africa's Mariske Strauss overcame a nasty fall to finish eighth in the under 23 women's cross country race at the UCI MTB and Trials World Championships 2013 at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg.

Photo: Darren Goddard/Gameplan Media

“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.”

“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.”

“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.”

“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.”

2013 UCI MTB World Cup sensation Rebecca Henderson (Australia), having won two and podiumed in the other three, slumped to a disappointing tenth place after a crash during training on Thursday left her with very little use of her right hand and forced her to back right off through every rock garden and technical section.

Saturday sees the cross country programme culminate in the Elite Men’s (15h00) and Women’s (12h30) tussles where the best in the business square off for top honours for 2013 with the Cross Country Eliminator taking place at 11h00 on Sunday 1 September.

The UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships takes place at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg from 26 August to 1 September 2013. More information can be found at www.mtbworldchamps.co.za

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Candice Neethling finished fourteenth overall and was the second local rider home in the under 23 women's cross country race at the UCI MTB and Trials World Championships 2013 at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg.

Photo: Darren Goddard/Gameplan Media

SUMMARY OF RESULTS - UCI MTB & TRIALS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

CROSS COUNTRY WOMEN

 

Under 23 Women

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