What's Going Down Down Under

Aussies grab gold in men's and women's 4X. Americans Jill Kinter and Melissa Buhl pick up silver and bronze. U23 cross-country favorite Burry Sanders takes home rainbow jersey.

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The 2009 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships are being held in Canberra, Australia Sept. 1-6. The cross-country events, downhill, 4-cross and the trials events will all take place in Stromlo Forest Park, a nature reserve just outside Canberra, where one stop of the 2008 UCI World took place last season. Ralph Naef and Irina Kalentieva won the 2008 men’s and women’s XC races.

Canberra World Cup event schedule

Start list of the Elite cross-country race

The overall UCI World Cup standings

Aussies Sweep Men’s and Women’s 4X

Australia's Jared Graves, left, on his way to a rainbow jersey. Courtesy photo
Australia's Jared Graves, left, on his way to a rainbow jersey. Courtesy photo

Australians Jared Graves and Caroline Buchanan both won rainbow jerseys in the 4X at the World Championships in Canberra.

Second and third place went to the USA in the women’s final with Jill Kinter and Melissa Buhl flanking Buchanan, 18, who hails from Canberra. Three-time world champion Kintner (2005-2007) earned the top seed in Thursday’s qualification round but narrowly missed out on a fourth career world title when she failed to overtake Buchanan in the four-woman final. Last year’s gold medalist Buhl came in third to put both former world champs back on the podium.

In the elite men’s four cross contest, Blake Carney (Caramillo, Calif.) was the top American in
eighth-place. Mitch Ropelato (Ogden, Utah) was 26th while Michael Haderer (Concord, Calif.) was 29th.

On the mens podium France’s Romain Saladin won silver while Jakub Riha from The Czech Republic took home the bronze medal.

Graves, 26, who last year was a finalist in the BMX at the Beijing Olympic Games, entered the championships as the World Cup Series leader and world number one.

Mens U23 XC
South Africa’s Burry Stander went in as the odds-on favorite and didn’t disappoint, claiming the rainbow jersey in the 38.82 kilometre under-23 men’s cross-country final.

Stander, 22, the current World Cup U23 series leader opened up an early lead on the field, posting the fastest split times on each of the first five laps of the 6.47km circuit before crossing the line in 1:47:26.

Frenchmen Alexis Vuillermoz took second place finishing 1:21 behind. Swiss rider Thomas Litscher claimed third.

For the US, Robbie Squire finished 32nd at 11:25 behind the winner. Tad Elliot crossed the line in 36th place at 11:47 back.

Italy Earns Second Gold in Junior Men’s XC

One rider has helped Italy score two gold medals at the World Mountain Bike Championships in Australia.

Gerhard Kerschbaumer, 18, won the junior men’s cross-country event in Canberra on Wednesday. His victor follows Kerschbaumer’s success as part of the Italian team that claimed the team crossp-country relay on Tuesday.

Ricardo Paulo Reis Marinheiro overtook Swiss rider Reto Indergand on the final lap to take silver and Portugal’s first medal of the championships. Russell Finsterwald, 18, was the top American in the 41st spot. Eric Emsky finished 43 while Zach McDonald DNF’d.

Queensland’s Jared Graves, 26, has secured the top spot in the qualifying run of the four cross (4X). The finals will be raced Saturday under the lights at Stromlo Forest Park.

Graves, who last year was a finalist in the BMX at the Beijing Olympic Games, lined up as a firm favorite coming in as the current World Cup Series leader and world ranked number one.

Poland Grabs Gold in Women’s U23 XC

Poland’s Aleksandra Dawidowicz, 22, has claimed her country’s first medal at the 2009 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships, taking gold in the U23 women’s cross country in Canberra.

Dawidowicz, who took bronze in the same event in Italy last year, was simply too, opening up an early lead before eventually crossing the line in a time of 1:24:32, well over a minute ahead of second placed Alexandra Engen of Sweden.

After crashing early in the race Julie Bresset of France finished in third a further minute behind.

Chloe Forsman and Amy Dombroski, both 22, finished 15th and 18th respectively.

Dawidowicz, meanwhile, finished 10th in the women’s cross-country at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and was crowned European champion just over a month ago.

“Last year I was third, a month and a half ago I was European champion and this year I am champion so that is very exciting for me,” Dawidowicz said. “Now I would like to be Olympic champion so I am looking toward the Olympics in London in 2012.”

Third-place Bresset was one of the favorites heading into the race but struggled after a bad start.

“A medal is always a medal but I am a little bit disappointed as I wanted to do better,” Bresset said.

“I knew it was important to take the lead early but then I had the crash, which caused me to lose five places.”

In the Junior Women’s cross-country, Pauline Ferrand Prevot, 17,  took home gold. The USA’s Jill Behlen, 18, finished in the 16th spot while 17-year-old Barton Essence came in 18th.

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.