Switzerland was the only country to win two gold medals on the first day of competition at the European Mountain Bike Championships, which will be held at the Tamengos track in Anadia until Sunday.
On a day totally dedicated to XCC, Britain’s Charlie Aldridge became the European elite champion, winning the electrifying race that closed the programme on Thursday. The elite men’s race was enlivened by a quartet that stood out from the rest of the competitors in the early laps.
Britain’s Charlie Aldridge, Spain’s David Campos, Switzerland’s Alexandre Balmer and Belgium’s Jarne Vandersteen soon stood out. In the foursome, Balmer tried several times to outrun his rivals on the climbs, but never had space to seriously think about the gold medal. Charlie Aldridge, on the other hand, attacked in the right direction, going solo in the last two laps, increasing his advantage with each pedal stroke to finish 16 seconds ahead of David Campos and 22 seconds ahead of Alexandre Balmer.
The women’s elite race had two parts. The first half left a group of about ten cyclists at the head of the race, all with aspirations of fighting for the podium. The finer selection took place in the second half, with the final sorting taking place over the final two laps. It was then that the Swiss Ronja Blöchlinger, the Italian Giorgia Marchet and the Swedish Linn Gustafzzon took the head of the race.
On the last lap the Swiss woman attacked to take the lone win. She left the Italian 13 seconds behind. The Nordic had to call on a shred of energy to stop Slovenian Vita Movrin from stealing the bronze medal, both coming within 19 seconds of the winner.
The first race of the European Championships, the XCC for junior women, showed that cunning and technique are key in all disciplines of cycling. Germany’s Carla Hahn led for much of the race, but paid the price of being over-volunteer and was left out of the podium.
In the dispute for the gold medal, again the rule that physical ability is not everything was verified. Swiss Lea Huber looked stronger, but on the turn to the last wooden bridge of the circuit Czech Simona Spesna chose the best trajectory, taking command of the race that would take her to the European title. Lea Huber was second and her compatriot Monique Halter closed the podium.
The under-19 men’s race had a very even balance between the top ten. Despite several attacks in the most demanding parts of the circuit, it was a group of about a dozen units that entered the final lap in a position to discuss the podium. As in the women’s race, the access curve to the last wooden bridge was decisive. Swiss Yanick Binz was more astute and overtook German Benjamin Krüger, on the inside of the curve. After losing the lead, the German fell, buffering the runners behind and leaving the Swiss rider alone in the lead.
Yanick Binz won the gold medal, followed by his compatriot Loris Hättenschwiler, 3 seconds behind, and by Swede Leo Lounela, 5 seconds behind.
The second day of competition, this Friday, will see three European titles in contention. At 11.30 am the mixed relay will be run. At 16h00 starts the MTB elimination.