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Sydor wins world championship bronze

Claire Buchar 15th in women’s downhill

Once again it was up to North Vancouver’s Alison Sydor to provide the high point for the Canadian team, this time at the UCI World Mountain Bike Championships at Les Gets, France.

Sydor, who was fourth in the Athens Olympics, finished the race in third. It was her 14 th consecutive top-five finish in international competition, and she accomplished it by riding aggressively from start to finish.

"It is difficult for everybody after the Olympics, to get motivated again so close after it," Sydor told reporters. "It was hard conditions mentally and physically here."

The conditions were wet and muddy, forcing most riders to run the steepest climbs on the course.

Sydor started the race up front, before being caught on the climb by Olympic and World Cup champion Gunn-Rita Dahle of Norway and Poland’s Maja Wloszczowska.

Wloszczowska and Dahle pulled away shortly afterwards, and put together a sizeable lead by the midway point of the ride. Undeterred, Sydor gave chase and was still closing the gap when the race finally ended. Dahle finished with a time of two hours, two minutes and 12 seconds, just 1:06 ahead of Wloszczowska and 1:45 ahead of Sydor. In doing so, Dahle became only the second mountain biker to win the World Cup title, Olympic gold and world championships in the same season.

Quebec’s Marie-Helene Premont, the Olympic silver medallist, put in another strong performance to lead the second group into the finish in the fourth place position.

Courtenay’s Kiara Bisaro finished 14 th , giving the Canadians three in the top-15.

In the men’s cross-country Julien Absalon of France, the Olympic champion put in another solid race to win in 2:20:37. Cedric Ravanel of France was second, less than a minute back, and Thomas Firschknecht of Switzerland was third.

Victoria’s Geoff Kabush and Kamloops’ Chris Sheppard were 15 th and 16 th . Ryder Hesjedal had another tough day, hanging in with the leaders until a crash on the third lap.

In the Under 23 Espoir category, Canada’s best rider was Tofino’s Max Plaxton in 24 th .

In the junior categories, Quebec’s Raphael Gagne established himself as a rider to watch with a seventh place finish, just over two minutes back of the bronze medal.

In the downhill, which took place on a short, fast course, two Canadian women placed in the top-15. Vancouver’s Danika Schroeter was ninth, 14 seconds back of the leader, while Whistler’s Claire Buchar, crossed the line in 15 th .

Buchar’s goal, after facing illnesses and injuries in the past two championships, was to finish in the top-20.

The win went to Vanessa Quin of New Zealand, followed by Mio Suemasa of Japan and Celine Gros of France.

French rider Anne-Caroline Chausson, the most dominant woman on the circuit for the past five years, crashed in training and was unable to race, opening it up for other riders.

The men’s downhill went to Fabien Barel of France, the first of seven riders to finish the course in under two minutes. Greg Minnaar of Russia was second, and Samuel Hill of Australia third.

Cedric Gracia of France, a part-time Whistler resident, was eighth.

In the 4X (bikercross), Eric Carter of the U.S. took the title ahead of Mickael Deldycke of France, Michal Prokop of the Czech Republic and Roger Rinderknecht of Switzerland.

Nana Horakova of the Czech Republic, an unknown BMX rider, took the women’s 4X, followed by Jill Kinter and Tara Llanes of the U.S.

Complete results are at