The women's XCO World Championship was like any World Cup this year - action packed!
Photos: Matt Rousu
With a start time a little after 2am you can be forgiven for not catching the UCI Mountain BIke world Championship's Elite women's XCO race live. But if you got up early, you'll know it was worth it. Bec McConnell has launched right back to her world-class form this year and she wasn't about to waster her front row start position in Mt St Anne in Canada.
With the world's best on the front line, soon enough the likes of Haley Smith, Kate Courtney, Jolanda Neff, Anne Tauber, Anne Terpstra and Bec McConnell were all right at the front. And then it was just Neff and McConnell. And then, only McConnell.
For laps 2-4 McConnell lead, with a healthy gap behind Jolanda Neff, as 2018 champ Courtney faded, the Dutch worked together, Jenny Rissveds came and faded and 2015 Champ Pauline Ferrand-Prevot started to move through the field.
McConnell nailed every line. She hit every corner perfectly, pedalled gracefully up the climbs and unleashed on the descents. She made no mistakes. But France's Ferrand-Prevot was making up a lot of time, and attacked Jolanda Neff to move into second, then had Bec in her sights through the feedzone and put the hammer down on the next climb.
The French star rode away and as it looked like Bec was fading, Neff got her in her sights and made the move on the climb towards La Beatrice. These positions remained and while PFP took a triumphant win and Neff won silver, Bec McConnell won bronze, Australia's best elite women's result at a XCO World Championships.
"It was as smooth as you can ask," said Bec to Matt Rousu after the race finish, "I put myself in a positon to give it everything and I did. I blew up a little bit with a lap or two to go and I really suffered to get to the finish, but that's what World Championships is about, giving yourself a chance and finishing with nothing left!"
"I was worried about 4th place. Apparently I had a minute but I didn't know that. I was totally blown. I was really focused on trying to get to the finish in 3rd."
And that's exactly what she did, leaving a nation of viewers on the edge of their seats!
This was a stunning performance from McConnell, and just the sort of ride any fans will like to see as we approach an Olympic year. This has been a great World Championships for the Australian team so far, let's hope it continues into the final day.
Holly Harris didn't fare as well, given she was gridded on the last row, she made up some places but the back of a World Championship race on a course like Mt St Anne is absolute carnage, and Holly did get caught up in some crashes as well.