Cairns, AUS, September 7, 2017 – Canada won its first medal of the 2017 Mountain Bike Championships on Thursday in Cairns, Australia, with Holden Jones of Squamish, BC, finishing third in the Junior Men’s competition. Roxane Vermette of St-Ferreol-les-Neiges, Quebec, was the top Canadian in the Junior women’s race, finishing 16th.
The men’s five lap race saw Australia’s Cameron Wright ride away from the rest of the field on the start loop to give the host nation their first title. Behind, the chase quickly came down to two riders – Holden Jones and Joel Roth of Switzerland, a member of the Team Relay world champion squad. The pair had dropped the rest of the chasers by the end of the first lap and rode together until the final half lap, when Roth attacked to open a nine second gap on Jones and win the silver medal.
In other Canadian results, Tyler Clark of King City, Ontario, was 27th and Gunnar Holmgren of Orillia, Ontario, 29th. National champion Brody Sanderson (Oro Medonte, Ontario) pulled out after a crash.
“I think after riding the Relay yesterday and looking at the lap times, that I was there with the faster Juniors,” said Jones. “That really gave me some confidence. That removed from stress from under me and I just did what I knew I could do, and it all worked out. It caught everyone off guard when [Wright] went so quick. The rest of the race was us just trying to hunt him down, but he was on fire today. It’s pretty unbelievable, this is my best race of the year, maybe of my life. I couldn’t be more proud to show the world that Canada is on the map.”
In the Junior women’s category, Canadian champion Vermette rode consistently in the mid-teens throughout the four lap race, finishing five minutes and 32 seconds behind winner Laura Stigger of Austria. In other Canadian results, Dana Gilligan of Oro Medonte, Ontario, was 20th and Leya Masson of St-Ferreol-les-Neiges, Quebec, was 23rd. Sidney McGill of Edmonton, Alberta, was unable to start after injuring her wrist in training.
“It’s my first year as a Junior and my first world championships, so I’m very proud of what I did today,” said Vermette. “I had no idea what I could do, so my plan was to just go hard on the hill and smooth on the technical section. But I didn’t have a lot of energy in the last lap, so I just did my best. My season has been awesome, so when I came to Australia it has been a dream already and I just tried to do my best.”