McConneloug, Craig strong as worlds conclude

Craig's ill-timed flat bumped him out of the top-ten
Livigno, Italy (September 4, 2005)— The 2005 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships concluded on Sunday as Mary McConneloug (Chilmark, Mass.) placed seventh in the elite women’s cross country race and Adam Craig (Bend, Ore.) had a career ride that was derailed by a flat tire at the most inopportune time.

Running seventh most of the day and clearly on his way to the first top-ten finish by an elite male American cross country rider since 1995, Craig flatted with less than six-miles to go while in sixth position in the 27-mile race. Instead he placed 21st after losing valuable time.

Despite the bad luck, Craig was happy with his performance. “I’m not super concerned with results, I’m more concerned with progress and I made some serious progress today,” said Craig. I had a bad start and rode myself into the top five, so that’s fine with me.”

After an admittedly slow start, Craig finally found his groove and quickly improved his position. “It definitely took me a while to get my legs rolling, but once I did, I was moving through people like crazy. It would have been real nice to have better contact at the start and race from the front, but I’m learning. I could basically shift into a higher gear and pedal faster whenever I wanted, so that was nice.”

Throughout the day, Craig was just minutes off the pace of eventual winner and defending champion Julien Absalon (FRA) who took his second consecutive world title 18 seconds ahead of Christophe Sauser (SUI).

Jose Antonio Hermida (ESP) took the bronze, 54 seconds off the pace.

McConneloug turned in a career best seventh place
In spite of the mishap, Craig was the top U.S. finisher of the 97-rider field while Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Boulder, Colo.) in 32nd, Michael Broderick (Chilmark, Mass.) in 42nd, Carl Decker (Bend, Ore.) in 48th, and Todd Wells (Durango, Colo.) in 54th rounded out the U.S. National Team’s performance.

McConneloug’s seventh-place effort came amongst a solid 82-rider field and signifies her first career top-ten finish at the world championships.

Despite a conservative start for McConneloug, she was on the fringe of cracking the podium, running fourth after the first time check before a minor disruption caused her to lose a couple of spots.

“I was running fourth, but then I dropped my chain and two women got by me and I just kind of settled in,” McConneloug explained. “I think I could have been in the top four or five today if I didn’t have my problems but it’s alright, I’m psyched.”

Defending world champion, Athens Olympic gold medalist and heavy favorite Gunn-Rita Dahle (NOR) led from start to finish, taking the world title by a 2:09 margin over last year’s silver medalist Maja Wloszczowska (POL) while Petra Henzi (SUI) completed the podium with a bronze medal.

Throughout much of the race, McConneloug rode in a small three-woman group that also included three-time world champion Alison Sydor (CAN) and Irina Kalentieva (RUS). Ahead of the trio, Dahle, Wloszczowska, Henzi, Marie-Helene Premont (CAN) and Sabine Spitz (GER) looked to have a lock on the top five spots leaving McConneloug to battle it out for sixth.

NORBA series champ Vanlandingham also rode strong, finishing 12th
“No one would pull on the flats so I just stayed at my own pace and give it on the climbs. Alison and I dropped Kalentieva who’s a really strong climber and then Alison just got away from me a bit on the descent and I could never quite bridge up to her.”

2005 NORBA National Mountain Bike Series champion, Shonny Vanlandingham (Durango, Colo.) also turned in a strong performance, placing 12th despite starting in 45th position.

“I came around the first loop in 30th or so and just gradually worked my way up, so I’m pretty happy,” Said Vanlandingham. “I climbed really well and I was hoping for a top-ten finish but I have to do more world cups to get better start position.”

Willow Koerber (Ashville, N.C.) placed 26th as the next American and Kelli Emmett (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Heather Irmiger (Boulder, Colo.) placed 35th and 37th respectively.

Next up on the calendar for the U.S. National Mountain Bike Team and the American off-road cycling community is the USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships in Mammoth Mountain, Calif. September 15-18.

Sunday’s Results

Elite Women Cross Country

JHK was the next best American behind Craig
1. Gunn-Rita Dahle (NOR) 1:47.19
2. Maja Wloszczowska (POL) +2:09
3. Petra Henzi (SUI) +3:07
7. Mary McConneloug (Chilmark, Mass.) +6:14
12. Shonny Vanlandingham (Durango, Colo.) +9:36
26. Willow Koerber (Ashville, N.C.) +13:45
35. Kelli Emmett (Colorado Springs, Colo.) +17.24
37. Heather Irmiger (Boulder, Colo.) +17.55

Elite Men Cross Country
1. Julien Absalon (FRA) 2:07.34
2. Christophe Sauser (SUI) +.18
3. Jose Antonio Hermida (ESP) +.54
21. Adam Craig (Bend, Ore.) +8:46
32. Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Boulder, Colo.) +11:05
42. Michael Broderick (Chilmark, Mass.) +14:06
48. Carl Decker (Bend, Ore.) +16:01
54. Todd Wells (Durango, Colo.) +18:07

Trials – Elite 20”
1. Benito Ros (ESP)
2. Marco Hosel (GER)
3. Catalan de la Pena (ESP)
30. Brian Yezierski (USA)

Trials – Junior 20”
1. Ben Slinger (GBR)
2. Karol Sherwin (POL)
3. Marco Thoma (GER)
5. Ryan Cecil (USA)

Trials – Elite 26”
1. Kenny Belaey (BEL)
2. Vincent Hermance (FRA)
3. Ros Charral (ESP)
24. Jeremy Van Schoonhoven

Trials – Junior 26”
1. Ben Slinger (GBR)
2. Ben Savage (GBR)
3. Wesley Belaey (BEL)
15. Cameron Cowall (USA)
16. Edward Gildea (USA)

This Article Published September 4, 2005 For more information contact: