Czech Day at WMTBOC 2023: Bogar, Černík and Stránská middle champions, women's elite for Benham Kvale
The arena for the middle distance remained in Mostek from the previous day, but this time the peloton headed to the terrain around Labský Vrch, whose flat top breaks sharply down to the Elbe (Labe) in the east. Competitors from twenty-five countries around the world were troubled not only by sharp ascents and descents, but also in many cases by lush vegetation and the associated difficulty in reading turns and other map details. After noon, the thermometer stopped just above thirty again, but there was also no shortage of wetness and mud in the forest.
Among the men, after a successful sprint and Tuesday's long distance, it was clear that the Czechs will once again be among the main contenders for medals. Soon after the start it became clear that although the race is more a speed discipline, this time it will be the one who can tame the fast feet and keep a clear head when mapping that will have the upper hand. Especially in the first part of the race, an unusual number of missed turns or sudden turns to places where the right path certainly did not lead, was visible from the competitors.
The need for gentle mapping skills suited Kryštof Bogar the best. He immediately took the lead from the first controls. For a long time, it seemed that only the fight for second place would take place behind him, but even Bogar took a wrong turn when proceeding to the twenty-third control, and the Swiss Hellmueller, who also brought excellent form to the championship, catched up on him. The decision was made only at the very end when passing through the village of Mostek. Bogar mapped out the final passage a little better on the short road section and finally gained a quarter of a minute on his rival at the finish line. To the great joy of the audience, Vojtěch Ludvík finished in third place. Ludvík started a little slower after winning Tuesday's long, but the second half of the race was excellent for him.
What did the winner say about his performance? "I was a bit tired after yesterday, I was losing on the uphill climbs. It was even thirty seconds for one control point. But I tried to go precisely and fluently through the technical passages and map-challenging sections and it turned out great," revealed Kryštof Bogar at the finish line.
He is one of the fastest and most technically proficient cyclists among orienteers, after all, he also has representative experience from the XC World Cup, where he rode particularly well in the sprint disciplines.
The development of the women's race was also interesting. Right at the start, one of the favorites, Nikoline Splittorff, hesitated slightly when she turned early and it cost her a few hundred meters of extra travel. However, her subsequent chase was successful, after several controls she catched up on the leader, Emily Benham Kvale. This pair established a slight lead over the Czech pair Tichovská and Kubínová. The leading duo achieved similar split times until the sixteenth control. But then the spectators watching the GPS tracking could watch the gross mistake of the Danish competitor, who missed the 17th control and realized it after more than half a minute. Benham Kvale thus easily took the world title for Great Britain, Splittorff eventually defended second place against Martina Tichovská.
Emily Benham Kvale was very satisfied at the finish: "I tried to learn from yesterday's mistakes. I didn't really know how fast I was going because I didn't meet anyone on the track, but I felt good and didn't make any mistakes".
Czech juniors offered spectators and fans a fantastic show. Sofie Stránská went into the race with a clear head after Tuesday's success on the long distance and surprisingly did not find a conqueror again. Compared to her rivals, she did not make any significant mistakes in a balanced fight and that decided the race. She won ahead of Tilda Palm from Sweden and Finland's Pihla Hakkinen.
This time, Adam Černík successfully imitated his representative junior colleague among the junior men. With a concentrated performance, he gradually worked his way into the lead, which he did not let go at the end of the race. Switzerland's Flurin Schnyder finished in second place behind Černík, while Armel Berthaud from France finished third.
Photos: Jan Suchý, Honza Svoboda, Pavel Štáfek