Batty battles for world championship bronze in wild finish

A dramatic sprint for third place saw Canada’s Emily Batty win a bronze medal at the UCI world cross-country championships of mountain bike in the Czech Republic on Saturday.

Batty – the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games women’s champion – stayed with the lead group throughout the contest until opportunity arrived for her to land on the podium for the first time at a world championship.

Maja Wloszczowska of Poland, in second place heading into the final stretch, needed to get her back tire changed, allowing Lea Davison of the United States to pass her for silver. Batty too went past the Polish rider from fourth place, just as Wloszczowska’s tire change was completed. That set up a barnstorming finish between Batty and Wloszczowska, in which the Canadian narrowly edged the Pole at the finish line.

“That’s a bronze,” an emotional and exhausted Batty exclaimed when she got off her bike, realizing what she had done, while a disconsolate Wloszczowska crouched heartbroken at the side of the finishing area.

RELATED: World championship preview
RELATED: Olympic mountain bike at Rio 2016

Canada had a second bike in the top five, with two-time world champion Catharine Pendrel finishing in fifth place.

Annika Langvad of Denmark is the women’s world champion dominating Saturday’s contest in one hour, 30 minutes and 13 seconds. Davison was a minute and 12 seconds behind the winner, while Batty was 1:44 back.

RELATED: Pendrel hoping third time’s a charm in Rio

The two top five finishes – including a podium – sets up Canada nicely for women’s Olympic mountain bike at Rio 2016, which will take place on Day 15.