Posted on 10th Oct 2013
The 2013 UCI MTB World Championships were held in South Africa last month, with Australia's Paul Van Der Ploeg winning the Elite Men's Eliminator World Title. The 23 year old rider, commonly known in Australia as a road cyclist for the Satalyst Giant team, unleashed his signature move 'suicide inside' to storm into the lead, before holding on in the remainder of the race and take home the World Title.
Thousands of spectators had travelled for the event held at Cascades Park, and saw Van Der Ploeg become just the fourth man from Australian to capture an Elite Mountain Bike World Title, as he crossed the line ahead of Daniel Federspiel from Austria, and Catriel Andres Soto from Argentina.
Ahead of the event, Van Der Ploeg was not even sure if he would be competing, with the rider suffering a bad bout of food poisoning in the last UCI Road event in Borneo. He was still feeling the effects upon arriving in South Africa, but managed to pull through for the biggest victory so far in his career.
The Eliminator is essentially a shortened version of a cross country race, with 4 riders racing frantically against each other in a knock out style format. The first leg sees them race against the clock, with the fastest 32 riders being put into 8 groups of 4 riders for the finals. Van Der Ploeg posted the 4th fastest time in the heats, and was well placed for the final rounds.
Two riders are then eliminated each race until the final four remain for the finale. Van Der Ploeg, known as the "Aussie Giraffe" to do his large build, progressed through to the final quite easily, winning both the Quarter-Final and Semi-Final to qualify for the chance at the title.
Even though he had shown his hand in the Semi-Final with his inside line on the first climb to take the lead, the other competitors were no match for Van Der Ploeg in the final. It was easily the biggest victory of his career, and might lead to him settling on this format after switching between all forms of cycling over the past 2 years.
2013 in particular has been a busy year for Van Der Ploeg, having done UCI, Australian road races, cyclo-cross, and cross country. He enjoys the different disciplines, but is ecstatic to have secured the rainbow jersey in this event, for which he will get to wear for the next year. He has described it as being one of those moments he will remember forever. Congratulations Paul.
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