The Great Britain Cycling Team took a fantastic fourth place in the cross-country team relay as the 2017 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships started in Cairns, Australia on Wednesday. This is the first time Britain has fielded a team in few years, so it’s a great first outing. Coach Simon Watts has previously explained to us that he’s hoping to use the XC Relay events as a means to gain qualification points for Tokyo – it looks like this could well pay off.
Recent rule changes increasing the number of women in the team played to the UK’s strengths, and Frazer Clacherty, Cameron Orr, Evie Richards, Annie Last and Grant Ferguson produced a superb team effort over five laps which saw them miss out on bronze by six seconds to France.
Switzerland took gold in the race, which sees each nation enter five riders whom each complete a lap of the cross-country course.
“Everyone did a great job,” British champion Ferguson said after the race. “It’s close, we would have liked to have medalled but it was good, we enjoyed it.”
Under-23 British champion Clacherty got Britain off to a strong start, 10th after the opening lap in hot conditions.
Junior Cameron Orr took on lap two and GB continued to climb up the placings, into ninth and 56 seconds back from leaders Italy.
The charge continued on lap three thanks to under-23 British champion Evie Richards, who moved into eighth as Canada took to the front of the race.
The final two laps were left to elite British champions Last and Ferguson. Last made more progress to move into seventh to leave Ferguson to make a late charge.
Scot Ferguson worked his way into fourth in a group which included the USA and Italy as Britain completed the race in 1:05:38.
Switzerland’s Olympic and world cup champion Nino Schurter clawed back one minute from Canada on the final lap to see Switzerland take the title, with Denmark in second and France third.
A promising start to the events in Cairns, it even had one of British Cycling’s most vocal critics giving praise. Dan Jarvis took to Twitter to praise the coaches who picked the team order:
I have to say @BritishCycling coaches picked the team order perfectly. Encouraging for individuals as well. Congratulations to all the team
— Dan Jarvis (@worldcupdan) September 6, 2017
Don’t forget to watch the rest of the events at Cairns. The schedule is as follows (all times in Cairns local time):
- Women’s Junior XC Finals – 1pm Thursday
- Men’s Junior XC Finals – 3pm Thursday
- Men’s U23 XC Finals – 2.30pm Friday
- Women’s U23 XC Finals – 10am Saturday
- Women’s Elite XC Final – 12noon Saturday
- Men’s Elite XC Finals – 2.30pm Saturday
- Women’s Junior Downhill – 9.30-10am Sunday
- Men’s Junior Downhill – 10-11.30 Sunday
- Women’s Elite Downhill – 1pm Sunday
- Men’s Elite Downhill – 2pm Sunday
Many of the events will be broadcast on the UCI’s website, and the Downhill events will be broadcast on the BBCRed Button.