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By Agence France Presse
Editor’s note: For detailed reports on the gravity events, including exclusive interviews with the Americans and other racers, check out singletrack.com.
British veteran Steve Peat finally overcame a second-place jinx to win the elite men’s downhill event on the final day at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships at Stromlo Forest Park on Sunday in Canberra.
Peat, 35, has four times been a runner-up but on Sunday finally experienced the thrill of donning the rainbow jersey as world champion.
Meanwhile, France’s Emmeline Ragot won the elite women’s downhill with Britain’s Tracy Moseley second and American Kathleen Pruitt third.
Riding fourth last in the 63-man field, Peat took the hot seat from Australian Mick Hannah and then had to wait as Australian Sam Hill, South African Greg Minnaar and defending world champion Gee Atherton of Great Britain all failed to snatch away the gold.
Peat clocked two minutes, 30.33 seconds on the 2.4km course to defeat Minnaar, who has won four World Cup events in the last 12 months, by 0.05 second, with Hannah overcoming the former two-time champion, Frenchman Fabien Barel, by just 0.15 seconds for third.
“I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. I just tried to dig as deep as I could. After all these years it’s just unreal,” Peat said.
“It was pretty emotional putting on the jersey on the podium knowing I could wear it as world champion for the next year, I’ve been trying for a long time and it’s just an unreal feeling.”
Ragot finished third to Britain’s Rachel Atherton and fellow Frenchwoman Sabrina Jonnier at last year’s world championships. But with Atherton out of action recovering from shoulder surgery and Jonnier suffering a puncture during Sunday’s final, the way was clear.
Ragot, 23, led at both timing checkpoints to clock 2:50.05 and was a deserved winner.
“I don’t think I really realise I am world champion. Then I look down at my jersey and I see the rainbow colors and I think maybe I have won but I think it has started to sink in now,” Ragot said.
Jonnier, who has won medals at five other world championships including gold in 2006 and 2007, finished at the tail of the field.
After six days of competition, France topped the medal table with three gold, five silver and three bronze medals ahead of Spain with three gold, two silver and two bronze.
Australia finished third with two gold, one silver and two bronze medals.