Sydor, Hesjedal silver in world championships 

Local 23 th in downhill, 15 th in 4X

The Canadians came away from the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Lugano, Switzerland last week with a pair of silver medals, and bronze medals for members of the cross-country team.

It was a strong showing for the team in cross-country, but also showed just how far the European riders have progressed in recent years, and how competitive the sport has become.

In the women’s elite race, North Vancouver’s Alison Sydor returned to the podium, finishing just 16 seconds back of Germany’s Sabine Spitz, and almost two minutes ahead of Irini Kalentieva of Russia.

The favourite heading into the race on Sunday was Gunn-Rita Dahle of Norway, who has won every World Cup race this season. She was taken out of the picture early after flatting on her first lap, then flatting again on her third. Amazingly, she worked her way back to 23 rd overall after dropping to 60 th after her second flat.

Sydor was in the lead pack after the first lap, chasing down Marga Fullana of Spain.

Fullana’s race came to an end on her third lap when her chain skipped into her spokes. She was disqualified for accepting assistance from someone on the side of the course who helped her to free her chain.

That put Sydor in the lead until lap five of the six-lap race.

"I was letting Marga take the lead, but she kept making mistakes in the technical parts," Sydor told Canadian Cyclist magazine ( "Having her to pace was good, but I was left in the lead earlier than I wanted. I didn’t want to be at the front that early, but it feels good to be in the lead and I was going well."

Spitz passed Sydor on the paved climbing section, and Sydor, exhausted after leading the pack, found herself too tired to focus on the technical sections. She decided to go her own pace rather than risk a fall.

"On this course you couldn’t go beyond 100 per cent, or you would make mistakes. But it was fantastic that the race came down to this at the end."

Sydor is no stranger to the World Championships, with three titles under her belt. She is consistently among the top in the world in the women’s World Cup standings, and came to Switzerland ranked sixth. In the past 13 years she has never finished outside the top-five in the mountain bike worlds.

Also for Canada, national champion Marie-Helene Premont of Quebec finished in fifth place. Premont rode with the lead pack for most of the race, but fell back slightly on her last lap to finish just over four minutes back of Spitz.

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