Fort William, Scotland

The U.S. National Team opened the 2007 Mountain Bike World Championships by winning the United States’ first medal in the Team Relay.

The foursome of Georgia Gould (Ketchum, ID/Luna Chix), Ethan Gilmour (Ludlow, VT/Devo-Okemo), Sam Schultz (Missoula, MT/Subaru-Gary Fisher) and Adam Craig (Bend, OR/Giant) joined forces to claim the bronze medal behind the winning team from Switzerland and runner-up Poland.

The Team Relay features four laps of the cross-country circuit, one each contested by an elite male, elite female, under-23 male and junior male from each nation. The event was first included in the World Championship program at the 1999 edition in Are, Sweden. There, the United States turned in a fourth place performance, the highest placing for an American entry until just now.

With teams allowed to determine the start order of its representatives, the U.S. squad chose to open with Gould while the remaining 14 teams opted to kick things off with either its elite or U23 male competitor. The result was a comparatively slow first lap in which Gould clocked an opening lap time of 25 minutes, 19 seconds over the 4.9 mile loop. It was the slowest time of the first wave, but the second fastest amongst elite women. Irina Kalentieva (Rus) took those honors by posting a 25:13 on the third lap.

Gilmour, the U.S. squad’s junior male entry, took the handoff from Gould and moved the U.S. up one position to 14th place at the midway point. Gilmour ticked off a 24:46, the 12th-fastest mark of his lap.

Following Gilmour, Schultz continued to improve Team USA’s position, moving the team from 14th to eighth place after posting a 22:39, the fastest mark of the third lap and third-fastest compared to his U23 male counterparts.

Needing to make up five spots to secure the first relay medal in U.S. history, Craig anchored the American squad with a 22:01, the quickest mark on the final lap and the ninth fastest lap time of the day amongst all competitors.

The U.S. contingent completed the event with an overall time of 1:34:45, just 20 seconds off the pace of Poland and 1:09 back from the defending champion Swiss team.

The strategic decision to send Gould off first and sacrifice an early lead paid off for the U.S. Team as the only squad to opt for a slow start and a fast finish.

“I figured we’d be better off if we let Georgia ride by herself because that’s what she’s been doing all year anyway,” Craig explained of the team’s tactics. “She could time trial it and then the younger boys were fine with just picking off a person or two a lap. I figured if I was on the last lap with a bunch of people to catch, I’d be fired up. It’s good for morale to be passing people.”

All four competitors on the U.S. squad will compete in their respective individual events later this week, Gilmour in the junior men’s cross-country on Thursday, Schultz in the U23 men’s cross-country on Friday, Gould in the elite women’s cross-country on Saturday and Craig in the elite men’s cross-country, also on Saturday.

Next on the schedule for the 2007 Mountain Bike World Championships continue the junior and U23 women’s cross-country. Representing the United States in the junior women’s division will be Stephanie White (Bedford, NH/Velo Bella) and Amy Cox (Scottsdale, AZ/Strada). In the U23 women’s contest, Chloe Forsman (Boulder, CO/Luna Chix) and Caitlyn Tuel (Boulder, CO/Trek-VW) will compete for Team USA.

The bronze medal for the United States in the Team Relay at the 2007 Mountain Bike World
Championships is the 12th medal won by Americans at various World Championship events this year. The foursome of Craig, Gould, Gilmour and Schultz join Sarah Hammer (Temecula, CA–Gold Medalist, elite women’s individual pursuit), Kyle Bennett (Conroe, TX–Gold Medalist, elite men’s BMX), Taylor Phinney (Boulder, CO–Gold Medalist, junior men’s time trial), Jonathan Page (Northfield, MA–Silver Medalist, elite men’s cyclocross), Katie Compton (Colorado Springs, C)–Silver Medalist, elite women’s cyclocross), Daniel Summerhill (Centennial, CO–Silver Medalist, junior men’s cyclocross), Danny Caluag (Chino, CA–Silver Medalist, elite men’s cruiser BMX), Brad Huff (Fair Grove, MO–Bronze medalist, elite men’s track omnium), Randy Stumpfhauser (Sanger, CA–Bronze Medalist, elite men’s BMX), Jerika Hutchinson (Mt. Shasta, CA–Bronze Medalist, junior women’s time trial) and George Sowers (Glendale, AZ–Bronze Medalist, junior men’s cruiser BMX).

1. Switzerland…1:33:36 (Florian Vogel, Thomas Litscher, Petra Henzi, Nino Schurter)
2. Poland…+0:49 (Marcin Karczynski, Piotr Brzozka, Maja Wloszczowska, Dariusz Batek)
3. Usa…1:09 (Georgia Gould, Ethan Gilmour, Sam Schultz, Adam Craig)
4. France…1:45 (Fabien Canal, Stephane Tmpier, Cecile Rode Ravanel, Cedric Ravanel)
5. Germany…1:53 (Wolfram Kurschat, Andy Eyring, Rene Tann, Sabine Spitz)
6. Czech Republic…2:02 (Jaroslav Kulhavy, Filip Adel, Katerina Nash, Milan Spesny)
7. Italy…2:06 (Yader Zoli, Andrea Tiberi, Francesco Aulino, Eva Lechner)
8. Russia…2:10 (Yury Trofimov, Denis Vorontsov, Irina Kalentieva, Roman Orlov)
9. Great Britain…2:54 (Ian Bibby, Alex Paton, Ian Wilkinson, Jenny Copnall)
10. Ukraine…5:12 (Sergiy Rysenko, Oleksandr Yakymenko, Mykhaylo Batsutsa, Natalia

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