Great Britain’s Charlie Aldridge won the men’s under-23 title and Samara Maxwell of New Zealand won the women’s U23 title at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships. Both took solo victories, Aldridge using a final-lap attack and Maxwell riding five of her six laps out front.
The Friday affairs were held under overcast skies on the 3.5km circuit at Glentress Forest in the Scottish Borders Peebles. The men faced 1,015 metres of elevation gain, the women 870 metres, which wore down competitors on a technical course with stiff ascents mixed with rooty and rocky descents.
Charlie Aldridge (Great Britain) charged from a leading group of three riders on the last lap and won the under-23 men’s world title in Scotland.
Adrien Boichis (France) finished 13 seconds back for the silver medal, while another 16 seconds later Dario Lillo (Switzerland) crossed the line to secure bronze.
The 22-year-old from Perthshire in central Scotland made the most of his final appearance in the U23 category, accelerating in a technical, single-track section with only half a lap remaining. The two riders in tow could not match the pace.
“It feels insane. Standing in front of all my friends and family, I still can’t believe it,” he said about the strong crowd reaction when he received the rainbow jersey and gold medal on the podium.
“Representing Great Britain across the world is one thing, but racing at home in the British jersey and then hearing ‘God Save the King’ when the flag went up was pretty cool, standing up there on the podium. Four years of under-23 and to pull it off in the last year is pretty good.”
A junior men’s XCO gold medallist in 2019, Aldridge made history with that victory as the first British man to win a world title in cross-country mountain bike. He didn’t waste any energy and executed his plan to perfection.
The mass of 89 contestants assaulted the narrow funnel at the start causing several riders to go offline with dropped chains and remounts. The front was controlled away from the chaos by Boichis, who took the lead into the first singletrack section in the woods. Aldridge took a turn out front as the two were followed closely by Lillo and Riley Amos (USA). A long queue of riders filled the course behind the quartet.
It was not until the fourth lap that Tobias Lillelund (Denmark) and Jente Michels (Belgium) broke free from the field in a two-rider chase, but still…