September 5, 2009 – Canberra, Australia
It was an up and down week for Team Maxxis-Rocky Mountain at the 2009 World Mountain Bike Championships in Canberra, Australia. 2009 had so far been a dream season for the team, with Sabrina Jonnier winning six of seven World Cups and locking up the overall title and Geoff Kabush taking the first World Cup win of his career at Bromont. After such a solid season, success at World Championships would be icing on the cake.
Canada's Geoff Kabush finished fifth on Saturday in the Elite Men's cross-country race at the Mountain Bike World Championships; North America’s best men's result since Ryder Hesjedal won silver in 2003. Nino Schurter of Switzerland, the Olympic bronze medalist won the world title with a time of two hours, four minutes and 39 seconds for the 45.29 kilometre, seven lap race, three seconds ahead of Olympic champion Julien Absalon of France. Florian Vogel of Switzerland outsprinted Jose Antonio Hermida Ramos of Spain for the bronze medal, 58 seconds behind Schurter.
The headwind in the opening section of the lap meant that it was much better to be in a group than on your own, as Kabush discovered.
"I had a slow leak in my tire," revealed Kabush, "so I had to stop in the pits for a quick wheel change [on lap three], which lost me a few seconds. On this course, with the long climb into the head wind, it meant that I just couldn't catch back onto the front group; I could see them there for a long time, but it was just so much harder to ride on your own out there. I guess you could say they were in a road race and I was in a time trial. Without that, maybe I could have been in medal contention. But I'm still very pleased, this is by far my best results at the world championships."
On Sunday, the best downhillers in the world put it all on the line to become the 2009 World Champion. In the women’s race Maxxis Rocky Mountain’s Sabrina Jonnier was the favorite to win the title for her third time. The French rider had won six of the seven World Cups in 2009 and was feeling good on the Canberra course. American Kathy Pruitt rode early in the finals and set a time that no one could beat, clearly showing that she is indeed one of the world’s best downhillers and one of the fittest too. It wasn’t until the third to last rider Emmeline Ragot of France came through the finish that Pruit was ousted from the hot seat. Next up was Tracey Moseley of Britain who clocked a time two seconds slower than Ragot. Only Jonnier was left to go and she stormed the first part of the course in her typical fashion, but disaster struck and she washed out in a hard right corner. Very disappointing for Sabrina, but considering the season she’s had all year, she has nothing to prove to anyone.
In timed runs earlier in the week Maxxis-Rocky Mountain’s Cameron Cole clocked the fifth fasted run, leading people to wonder if we might see a repeat of his huge 6th place at the season opener in South Africa. Cameron’s run was going perfectly and he was poised post the best time, but coming off a big jump, his chain broke which ended his run. The time splits indicated that had Cameron finished, he would have placed well into the top 10. Disappointing for Cameron, but his times bode well for next season, as Cameron has established that he is one of the fitter riders and is capable of placing in the top ten.