HAFJELL, Norway — American Howard Grotts earned a bronze medal in the U23 men’s cross-country race at UCI mountain bike world championships on Friday.
It was the first world championship medal for an American man in a cross-country event in 13 years. The last was Walker Ferguson’s bronze in the U23 race at 2001 world championships in Vail.
Fighting back from 38th place in the first lap, Grotts steadily moved his way up to medal contention. With about half a lap to go, he was only 22 seconds out of third place.
On the final climb the Specialized-sponsored rider was able to overhaul Dutch rider Milan Vader for third.
“My start was way less than ideal,” Grotts said, “but I had a super-steady race and was picking people off on the climbs mainly, and just keeping it in control on the descents. And then on the last lap I was riding for fifth and got a gap. Then I saw fourth and passed him. Then once you see third, you can’t give up and I ended up making it happen. This is awesome for me, for the United States.”
Grotts finished 1:12 behind the winner, Michiel van der Heijden (Nl). The silver medal went to Jordan Sarrou (F).
Women’s U23 race
Jolanda Neff (Swi) won the women’s U23 cross-country race ahead of France’s Margot Moschetti. Another Swiss rider, Linda Indergand, claimed the final step on the podium.
American Kate Courtney finished 13th and was the top American in the event.