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Gerken 42nd in mountain bike world

Steve Yingling

Don’t be surprised if Matt Gerken invents the first flat-resistant tire.

When the air went out of Gerken’s tire during the second lap of the world mountain biking championship last week, so did his chances of procuring a top-10 finish.

The 20-year-old professional mountain biker from Zephyr Cove still bounced back to finish 42nd out of 125 racers in the under-23 division at Chateau d’Oex, Switzerland.

Flat tires are becoming a nuisance for Gerken as he strives to be one of the world’s best. Gerken was also sitting 15th at the NORBA Nationals last month in Deer Valley, Utah, but two flat tires pushed him back to 42nd.

“It was really disappointing. With the lap times I was turning, it would have put me in the top 10 no problem. Then again, it’s part of racing,” Gerken said. “There was quite a few people over at worlds flatting. I wasn’t the only one. One of the juniors flatted twice and a couple of veterans were getting flat tires. Plus, with worlds you’re riding so much harder that you’re just pushing the envelope with how fast you’re going.”

The flat occurred as Gerken was speeding through a single-track section on the 49-kilometer cross-country course.

“I had a great start, and I was just settling down and getting a pace going. I was pretty much trucking through, and all of a sudden my tire was flat,” he said.

Jarred by the unfortunate momentum killer, Gerken frantically tried to change the flat. Consequently, it took two minutes longer than usual before he was back on course.

“I was just too excited and too much adrenaline was going through me. I was trying to fix it quickly, but seeing guys going by me one after another, making it hard for me,” Gerken said. “The cameras were on me and the spectators were watching. There was pressure for me to get it changed quickly, and I just started making mistakes and it took a little longer.”

Once Gerken returned to the trail, he was in 70th place with 2 laps remaining. “I was able to pick off quite a few guys,” Gerken said.

Gerken plans to ride a full World Cup circuit next year as it winds through Canada, the United States and Europe.

“Preparing for next year is going to be a lot more intense,” said Gerken, who will bump up his training starting point to January. “I’m definitely looking for top finishes next year, not only in my category but overall.”

Miguel Martinez of France was the under-23 champion in 2 hours, 33 minutes and 23 seconds, more than six minutes ahead of Cadel Evans of Australia.

Shaun Palmer, who grew up on the South Shore, lost an unsactioned three-man head-to-head dual slalom final run with winner Brian Lopes and Dave Cullinan.


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