Netherlands and Switzerland took medals in Cross Country
This year’s winner in the men’s U23 cross-country event was the Dutch favorite Michiel van der Heijden. French Jordan Sarrou finished in second place, while American Howard Grotts took the third and final medal.
By Anders Ødegården and Karl Erik Andresen
Swiss Jolanda Neff continues her dominating season and took the gold. French Margot Moschetti took second place and Linda Indergand gave the Swiss their second medal for the day with her third place.
Choice of bike was decisive
Howard Grotts, the American bronze winner, felt he had a bad start, but he was solid in the steep parts of the course, which in turn was an important place to catch up with the other riders. On the last lap he saw an opportunity and took it.
– I’m a terrible starter, but I knew that already. Thats why my plan was to run steady to catch one rider at a time. When I started on the last lap I saw that I had a shot at the third place, and I gave it everything I had.
The French silver medal winner, Jordan Sarrou, was a little disappointed. He had a flat tire on the third lap, and in addition to that he was struggling with pains in his back almost the entire race. Considering the many problems, he was very happy to get a medal today.
– I got backpains after the first lap and had to fight through it for the rest of the race. In the third round I had a flat tire, so I am very pleased to get a silver medal today.
The favorite, Michiel van der Heijden’s tactic was to go all out in the start to establish himself in the front and stay there for the rest of the race.
– I am very happy to win here today, it was a hard and tough race. The last two rounds was just painful. After a strong third place finish here last year at the world cup, I was looking forward to ridig here again today.
The winner was happy with his choice of bike. Although many of the other competitors went for a full suspension bike van der Heijden stuck to the classic hardtail. He felt this gave him a big advantage when climbing the steep parts of the course.
One of the other advance favorites Samuel Gaze from New Zealand had a flying start as he usually does, but had to break in the third round when he got unlucky and crashed after a rocky section of the track.
The favorites crashed
Both Jolanda Neff (Switzerland) and Pauline Ferrand Prevot-(France) crashed with eachother in the third lap. Neff was the fastest back up on the bike, while Prevot struggled to get the chain back on. This was the last time Neff saw her biggest rival, and the rest of the race she increased her lead and took a convincing win, 1.47 minutes ahead of the runner up.
Third place was also Swiss. Linda Indergand was surprised by her third place and was extremely pleased with the result.
– Margot is a much better climber than me and I had no chance to overtake her. A bronze medal is something I am both surprised and pleased with.
French Margot Moschetti who took silver was relieved and a little surprised by her second place finish. She felt that Linda was much faster in the downhill and was nervous that she would catch up with her. At the finish line there it was only a six second difference between the two.
– I’m surprised to get the silver. My goal for the race was to go for the third place, as both Pauline and Jolanda are so strong riders. I am so happy for this silver medal.
So far this week Jolanda already has two gold medals. But the greatest experience today was to meet with the Crown Prince.
– I love being in Norway, and it was very fun to meet the Crown Prince. He seemed so ordinary and down to earth, it was hard to believe that he is the prince.
Best Norwegian on the men’s side was Sondre Kristiansen who took 13th place. While Ingrid Bøe Jacobsen was the best Norwegian on the women’s side, she finished in 33rd.