The Sweden was the big winner of the Men Relay which ended the 31st World Orienteering Championships WOC 2014. A convincing victory against the strong opposition from Switzerland and France, a particularly hailed victory that allowed to reach the top of the World Championships' podium, eleven long years after Rapperswil/Jona, in Switzerland.
With the Men Relay race, today afternoon in Campomulo, in the Italian Alps, it's over the 31st edition of the World Orienteering Championships WOC 2014. A race where Russia defended the world title won in Vuokatti past Summer and were 34 the number of teams that took part in the competition.
From the start, France, Switzerland and Sweden immediately took the command of operations, eventually leading this fight to the end and decide among themselves the order of the medals. At the end of the first leg, the advantage - slight - belonged to France, with Frédéric Tranchand launching his team mate François Gonon six seconds ahead of the Swiss Fabian Hertner and the Swedish Jonas Leandersson. The Austrian Gernot Kerschbaumer also did an excellent race, finishing in fourth place, 1:39 behind the winner. At 1:49 and 1:51 from the leadership followed, respectively, Estonia and Great Britain. In the opposite pole, the Russian Leonid Novikov dropped to the 23rd place, at distant 6:49 to the leadership, thereby sinking the chances in revalidating the world title.
In the second leg, Daniel Hubmann showed again why belongs to him the leadership of IOF's world ranking. Although with a course with some minor errors, the Swiss athlete was able to deal with the pressure of having behind him the inconvenient presence of Gonon and the Swedish Fredrik Johansson, reaching the final with a record of 1:14:57, and giving to Switzerland a lead of 49 seconds over Sweden and 50 seconds over France. Finland, with Pasi Ikonen, came up to fourth place, 2:48 to the leadership, while Norwegians and Danes occupied the immediate positions with over 3:35 and 3:56, respectively, to the Swiss.
The last and decisive leg was disputed between the Swiss Matthias Kyburz, the Swedish Gustav Bergman and the French Thierry Gueorgiou. Keen to avenge the frustrating experience of yesterday, Gueorgiou had a very strong start and quickly took the lead. But Gustav Bergman was definitely stronger today, recovering the lead of the course to no longer drop it. While Matthias Kyburz and Thierry Gueorgiou fought now for the second place, Bergman won seconds ago seconds to their opponents, finishing with a time of 1:56:49 and offering to Sweden the second gold medal in a major international competition this season, after the European title won in Portugal last April.
The fight for the silver medal in the sprint was tough, with Kyburz to assert his bigger freshness in the final meters - the athlete didn't participate in the Middle Distance, the day before - and to offer to Switzerland the second place, at 1:09 from the winner. With more 1:14 than Bergman, Gueorgiou finished third. Olav Lundanes and Marten Bostrom waged intense struggle for immediate positions with the Norwegian beating the Finnish by a single second. Vice-European Champion in title, the Czech Republic ended in sixth place with a time of 2:04:35. Portugal finished the race in 24th place, reaching precisely the same place achieved in the female course.
1. Sweden 1:56:49
2. Switzerland 1:57:58 (+ 01:09)
3. France 1:58:03 (+ 01:14)
4. Norway 2:03:48 (+ 6:59)
5. Finland 2:03:49 (+ 07:00)
6. 2:04:35 Czech Republic (+ 7:46)
7. Britain 2:05:08 (+ 08:19)
7. Austria 2:05:08 (+ 08:19)
9. Estonia 2:06:54 (+ 10:05)
10. Denmark 2:08:00 (+ 11:11)
24. Portugal 2:25:16 (+ 28:27)
Results and other information http://www.woc2014.info/woc.php.
[Photo: Jan Kocbach / WorldofoLive /]