NEWS
04/24/2016 13:04 EDT | Updated 04/25/2017 01:12 EDT

Catherine Fleury, Catharine Pendrel reach podium at mountain bike World Cup

Canadian mountain biker Catherine Fleury was a model of consistency Sunday, finishing second in the under-23 women's race at the cross-country World Cup opener in Cairns, Australia.

The Alma, Que., native quickly moved into second and never looked back, maintaining her position unchallenged on the 4.3-kilometre course.

"This is my best result ever," Fleury told Cycling Canada. "I think I rode really strongly, and I was catching Elite riders [who started two minutes earlier] every lap, so I'm pretty happy with what I have done."

Fellow Canadian Catharine Pendrel, meanwhile, was satisfied with her podium finish, a fourth-place performance in the Elite women's race. In mountain bike, the podium is determined by the top-five participants.

After a slow start, Pendrel squeezed into the top five by the third lap and third entering the final two laps. But a mistake on a descent proved costly for the Fredericton native as Australia's Rebecca Henderson pulled away from Pendrel on the final lap to finish third behind winner Annika Langvad of Denmark.

"Fourth isn't what I ideally wanted to start with," Pendrel said, "but I had thumb surgery two weeks ago so I'll take it today.

"I was riding pretty sketchy out there, so I'm happy that I kept it together for fourth."

Emily Batty of Brooklin, Ont., was seventh, followed by Canadians Sandra Walter (24th) and Cindy Montambault (36th). Haley Smith crashed and didn't finish the race.

In the Elite men's event, Canada's Raphael Gagne crossed the line in a career-best 12th at a non-North American World Cup after faltering in the middle portion of the race. Switzerland's Nino Schurter was the winner.

"I started around 18th or 20th and picked my way up," said Gagne, who set a goal of finishing between 10th and 15th. "I felt strong physically and technically and felt that I finished well for the high heat conditions."

Leandre Bouchard went from 47th to the mid-20s in the opening two laps and then outsprinted others in his group to finish 19th.

Other Canadian results:

Elite men

- Derek Zandstra, 29th

- Geoff Kabush, 56th

- Evan Guthrie, 57th

- Andrew L'Esperance, 58th

- Evan McNeely, DNF

Under-23 men

- Marc-Andre Fortier, 25th

- Alexandre Vialle, 29th

- Felix Belhumeur, 32nd

- Raphael Auclair, 35th