A win for Finland – but it was close! A thrilling finish saw Finland catching Italy and just creeping ahead. Bronze medallists were Switzerland on a day with many changes in position as the race progressed.
Finland 2 set the pace on leg 1, with Antonia Haga finishing 2 seconds in front of Italy after 46 minutes of hard riding. The next 4 teams all finished within half a minute of the leader. At this point the eventual bronze-medal team was in 19th place, 1.34 down.
At the end of leg 2 there were 3 Finnish teams in the top 5, the eventual winners being in 5th place. Italy was still second, and Lithuania had pulled up one place to third at the expense of France.
Finland 2 set out on the last leg 1.40 down on Italy. Samuel Pokala (Finland 1) was in fact first away from the change-over, but he made a 2-minute mistake half-way round the course which put his team out of contention for the medals. Swiss rider Adrian Jaeggi was making exceptional progress and at one point was second, with Finland 2 third. Three minutes ahead of the finish line, Italy had a 59-second lead over Finland 2, but Teemu Kaksonen pulled out all the stops in the final section to catch the Italian rider Riccardo Rossetto and win by 1 second. Switzerland finished just 13 seconds down.
In the Junior and Youth Championships where standard relays were held, W20 and M20 were both won by France, whilst W17 and M17 were both won by Czechia.
So ends an exciting four consecutive days of competition in very warm conditions in southern Portugal, where the organisers provided very contrasting terrain for the four events. Next up for the senior and junior MTBO elite are the World Championships, with the Event Centre at Jičín, Czechia, 20-26 August.
Leading results, Mixed Relay
- Finland (Antonia Haga, Miika Nurmi, Teemu Kaksonen) 119:15
- Italy (Iris Aurora Pecorari, Fabiano Bettega, Riccardo Rossetto) 119:16
- Switzerland (Ursina Jaeggi, Noah Rieder, Adrian Jaeggi) 119:28
- Lithuania 121:14
- Czechia 124:30
- France 124:46
Junior and Youth relay events
W20: France by 1.30
M20: France by 3.18
W17: Czechia by 15.49
M17: Czechia by 4.10