Friday’s under-23 cross country racing served up a day of highs and lows for Canadian racers. Emilly Johnston worked through the field to finish a fantastic fourth in the u23 women’s XCO world championships. On the men’s side, a mechanical off the start line forced Carter Woods to chase from dead last, through a field of more than 80 racers, to finish 11th.
Emilly Johnston shines in Scotland
The under-23 woman’s XCO was dominated by New Zealand’s Samara Maxwell, who led from the first lap to the finish line. But, for Canadian fans, it was Emilly Johnston of the Comox Valley shining brightest. The Vancouver Island racer worked her way steadily from 10th up into fourth place over the course of six laps in Glentress Forest. Johnston finished 27 seconds off of the podium. Switzerland’s Gina Calouri and Ronja Blochlinger joined Maxwell on the podium in second and third place.
Ella MacPhee was the next Canadian across the line, placing 24th. Marie Fay St.-Onge came in 37th and Ophelie Grandmont 38th, solid results for the two 19-year-olds. Jocelyn Stel rounded out the Canadian results in 40th.
Heartbreak for Woods at worlds
Carter Woods, also of Vancouver Island, rolled into Scotland as one of the pre-race favourites. World Cup wins and the series lead put the weight of expectation on the young Canadian.
The dream ended before the Cumberland, B.C. racer could make it across the start line. A mechanical problem with his rear derailleur left Woods standing and trying to fix his bike as the field, and any chance of a medal, raced away.
While the win was long gone, Woods did not give up. The Giant racer chased through the massive field of more than 85 under-23 men. From dead last on the start line, Woods would make his way to an incredible 11th place at the finish line. Not the result he wanted, but a fantastic effort and show of heart from the young Canadian.
Charlie Aldridge gave the home crowd a win, finishing first just 13 seconds ahead of France’s Adrien Boichis. Dario Lillo of Switzerland finished 29 seconds off of the win in third place.
Owen Clark of Ontario was the next Canadian across the line after Woods. Clark finished 49th in Glentress. Zorak Paille of Quebec was 66th in his first world championships as an under-23.