Buhl fourth in women's downhill at MTB worlds


Buhl just missed a medal and added a fourth-place finish in the downhill to her sixth-place effort in the 4-cross (photo: Rob Jones)
Rotorua, New Zealand (August 26, 2006)óThe United States came within three seconds of collecting its second medal at the 2006 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships Saturday when Melissa Buhl (Chandler, Ariz./KHS) placed fourth in the elite womenís downhill competition. Buhlís performance led all American athletes Saturday in New Zealand.

Last yearís runner-up, Sabrina Jonnier (FRA), captured the win, posting a time of 3 minutes, 50.32 seconds over the 1.37-mile descent down Mount Ngongotaha to give France its 10th elite womenís downhill championship since 1990.

Jonnier bested silver medalist Tracy Moseley and Rachel Atherton, both of Great Britain, by 3.51 and 7.48 seconds respectively.

The third-seeded Buhl clocked a time of 4:00.40 to finish 2.60 seconds off the bronze-medal pace.

Kathy Pruitt (Lake Almanor, Calif./Luna) placed 10th and Jacqueline Harmony (Tucson, Ariz./Birdie-Cactus) 19th as the other two American competitors in the field of 28 riders.

Buhlís only other world championship performance in the elite womenís downhill was a 20th-place performance at the 2002 world championships in Kaprun, Austria.


Riffle was the top elite men's finisher in 19th (photo: Rob Jones)
Buhl also placed sixth in Fridayís 4-cross event in which teammate Jill Kintner (Seattle, Wash./GT Bicycles) won her second consecutive world title.

After turning in the third fastest time in Thursdayís seeding run, Buhl was well within medal contention, but her performance at a slightly faster race pace cost her a little time on the more challenging rocky, singletrack parts of the course.

ďI just wanted to focus on my pedaling,Ē said Buhl of her strategy, ďbut when it came to the technical sections I made a few mistakes. I was going a little faster through those sections compared to my seeding run and I wasnít able to handle that extra speed in some spots.Ē

The elite menís squad placed two riders in the top twenty out of a 59-rider field. National champion Duncan Riffle (Santa Barbara, Calif./Honda-Iron Horse) placed 19th, posting a time of 3:27.57 and teammate Luke Strobel (Renton, Wash./Turner-Fox Racing) was 20th in 3:27.69.

Australian Sam Hill added an elite menís world title to his 2003 junior world title, clocking a winning time of 3:11.03. Hill beat silver medalist Greg Minnaar of South Africa by 4.22 seconds and Nathan Rennie of Australia by 6.13 seconds.

Other U.S. finishes in the elite menís category include Cody Warren (Alpine, Calif./C-Dub Racing) in 24th, Christopher Herndon (Etowah, N.C./Cane Creek) in 29th, Evan Turpen (Aptos, Calif./Iron Horse-Fox Shox) in 33rd, Cole Bangert (Twin Lakes, Colo./Morewood Bikes) in 34th and Justin Havukainen (Castro Valley, Calif./Monster Energy in 37th.


Pierce was the fastest junior men's rider, placing 10th (photo: Rob Jones)
In the junior menís downhill competition, the U.S. posted a top-ten finish when Andrew Pierce (Park City, Utah/Go-Ride.com) rode true to his tenth seed and placed 10th, clocking a time of 3:40.08.

Other junior menís downhill performances for Team USA included a 13th-place run for Logan Bingelli (St. George, Utah/Yeti Cycles-Fox Shox), an 18th-place effort for Hank Cadle (Lake Forest, Calif./Ampíd Racing) a 24th-place ride for Tim Price (Great Falls, Va./Vicís Tree Service) and a 31st-place performance for Daniel Hultgen (Santa Barbara, Calif./Michelin-Smith).

Host country New Zealand threw a one-two punch, riding to gold and silver courtesy of Cameron Cole and Samuel Blenkinsop respectively. Antoine Badouard of France rounded out the podium in third.

In the junior womenís downhill event, the lone U.S. rider entered, Christina Pinney (Concord, Calif./Ride SFO-All Out), scratched from the race prior to the start. The event was left with only three competitors as Tracey Hannah of Australia won, Floraine Pugin of France was second and Micayla of Canada placed third.

In other competition for the U.S. National Team, three trials riders suited up to compete in the semifinals of the elite menís 26Ē trials. The series of challenging obstacle courses prevented all three from advancing to the finals as Jeremy Vanschoonhoven (Williams, Ore) placed 17th, Cameron Kowall (Gates Mills, Ohio) placed 19th and Nathan Goodhue (Honolulu, Hawaii) placed 20th. Only the top-eight competitors advanced to Sundayís finals.

2006 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships
Rotorua, New Zealand
August 22-27

Saturdayís Results

Elite Womenís Downhill
1. Sabrina Jonnier (FRA) 3:50.32
2. Tracy Moseley (GBR) +3.51
3. Rachel Atherton (GBR) +7.48
4. Melissa Buhl (Chandler, Ariz.) +10.08
10. Kathy Pruitt (Lake Almanor, Calif.) +17.21
19. Jacqueline Harmony (Tucson, Ariz.) +43.82


Elite Menís Downhill
1. Sam Hill (AUS) 3:11.93
2. Greg Minnaar (RSA) +4.22
3. Nathan Rennie (AUS) +6.13
19. Duncan Riffle (Santa Barbara, Calif.) +16.54
20. Luke Strobel (Renton, Wash.) +16.66
24. Cody Warren (Alpine, Calif.) +17.74
29. Christopher Herndon (Etowah, N.C.) +21.52
33. Evan Turpen (Aptos, Calif.) +22.37
34. Cole Bangert (Twin Lakes, Colo.) +22.62
37. Justin Havukainen (Castro, Valley, Calif.) +26.27


Junior Menís Downhill
1. Cameron Cole (NZL) 3:28.29
2. Samuel Blenkinsop (NZL) +1.16
3. Antoine Badouard (FRA) +1.55
10. Andrew Pierce (Park City, Utah) +11.79
13. Logan Bingelli (St. George, Utah) +12.76
18. Hank Cadle (Lake Forest, Calif.) +16.55
24. Tim Price (Great Falls, Va.) +20.34
31. Daniel Hultgen (Santa Barbara, Calif.) +26.77


Junior Womenís Downhill
1. Tracey Hannah (AUS) 4:07.07
2. Floraine Pugin (FRA) +4.67
3. Micayla Gatto (CAN) +33.84
DNS. Christina Pinney (Concord, Calif.)

Elite Menís 26Ē Trials Semifinals
1. Daniel Comas Riera (ESP) 7
2. Vincent Hermance (FRA) 8
3. Kenny Belaey (BEL) 12
17. Jeremy Vanschoonhoven (Williams, Ore.) 64
19. Cameron Kowall (Gates Mills, Ohio) 75
20. Nathan Goodhue (Honolulu, Hawaii) 80

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