Candice Neethling, our national junior mountain bike cross-country champion, pedalled her way to a great bronze medal in the UCI world championships in Canberra, Australia Wednesday.
The race was won by French teenager Pauline Ferrand-Prevot. In the Under-19 ranks for the first time this year the 17-year-old from Reins last month claimed silver in both the time trial and road race at UCI Junior Road World Championships in Moscow and said that winning gold on Wednesday is a dream come true.
Ferrand-Prevot completed the 19.41km race in a time of┬á 1hr 5min 33sec, a comfortable 33 seconds ahead of Swiss rider Michelle Hediger with Neethling in third place a further 33 seconds behind.
Seventeen-year-old Neethling was thrilled to win a medal at her first World Championships.
“It was extremely difficult, very technical,” said the KwaZulu-Natal rider. “The start was extremely hard, I didn’t know what to expect and it is great just to get a medal.”
In an interview with website velogirl last year, Neethling said her dream was to compete in an Olympics. On the strength of this performance she will be looking at London, 2012 with renewed enthusiasm.
Ferrand-Prevot was so overcome by emotion that she broke into tears well before the finish line. “On the last lap Michelle (Hediger) was leading but I knew I was better than her on the flat and that was when I took the lead,” said Ferrand-Prevot. “Winning the World Championship is a dream for me, I was already second twice, but a gold medal in the mountain bike was so important that when my staff informed me I would win I couldn’t stop myself and I started crying.”
Hediger was pleased to have claimed a medal.┬á “My dream was a medal so I am very happy,” Hediger said. “The race was very hard, the course was very technical, very powerful, it was really hard.”