Johannesburg – Australia's Paul Van der Ploeg bagged the gold medal in the men's final of the cross country eliminator at the UCI MTB and Trials world Championships in Pietermaritzburg on Sunday.
In the women's race, Swedish rider Alexandra Engen claimed the title after she finished ahead of the Swiss duo of Jolanda Neff and Linda Indergand.
Van der Ploeg finished ahead of Daniel Federspiel of Austria and Argentinian Catriel Andres Soto.
“I know that with cross country eliminator the start is super important,” Van der Ploeg said.
“Dan (Federspiel) is superfast off the start so I just got into his slipstream up the first hill.
“I found a less ridden line into the first corner in my semi so I used it again in the final and got ahead of the other guys.”
The champion's trip to South Africa was threatened by a bout of food poisoning and being able to win the World Championship title was a big achievement for the rider.
“I was on the sick bed for a while before coming to South Africa so I'm really happy with the win.
“I rode cross country eliminator for the whole of last year and won a World Cup but I chose to ride a road bike for a while so I had to relearn how to ride a mountain bike this week.”
The women's final pitted the top four qualifiers and it was the defending World Champion who defended her title.
Engen gained the early momentum on the twin track at the top of the first climb and despite losing a bit of that momentum on the big second climb she remained calm and held of the chasing riders.
“In a sprint like this the margins are so small,” Engen said.
“You have to be prepared for every situation that could rise and remain calm.
“I am really happy, the friendly Swiss Mafia are great so being able to have beaten them is so great.”
Three South Africans made it through the qualifiers, but were unable to progress beyond the quarter-finals.
Philip Buys and Alan Hatherly qualified for the last 32 riders. Hatherly did not make it pass this stage and ended fourth in his heat.
Buys qualified for the quarter-final but failed to get to the semi-final. – Sapa