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MTB World Cup XC # 3 - CDM
Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, May 20-21, 2006
Race 1 - Women
Simply the best - in any conditions
By Rob Jones in Spa-Francorchamps
A muddy, muddy day at Spa, Belgium for the third round of the cross-country Mountain Bike World Cup on Sunday. Although it was overcast, the rain mostly held off during racing, however, weeks of rain left the ground soggy. Gunn-Rita Dahle (Multivan Merida) and Julien Absalon (Bianchi Agos) padded their respective leads in the women's and men's series by taking victories at Spa. They proved that it doesn't matter whether the track is fast and hard - like Madrid last weekend - or muddy with lots of running - like this weekend - they are the class of the pro cadre.
The women faced three and a half laps of the 5.5 kilometre circuit, with the first shortened lap mostly on pavement. The riders headed from the start up a climb on the famed Formula One track and straight out for almost two kilometres before swinging onto the course for the descent back to the start. This was changed from the original course also - the mud bog that had developed over the past few days of training and junior/master racing meant that the far end of the course was effectively unrideable, so the organisers shifted the racers onto a paved service road beside the course for much of the way back.
The start was almost a road race, with riders fighting for position on the wide track before they entered the narrow trail at the turn around.
"The start was very hard," agreed Dahle. "Everyone was fighting for position, and it was into the wind. You wanted to get protection, but you had to stay at the front to get a good position when we went into the trail."
Dahle got the hole shot, which she had been hoping for: "I knew that Irina (Kalentieva) loved this course, she is good in the mud, and so light that she would float over it, while I am heavier and would be slowed down more. So, it was good to get a gap at the beginning."
Dahle then began to steadily open a gap on the chasers, eventually finishing more than two minutes in front of Kalentieva. Behind the front two there was some jockeying for position on the first lap, with Marie-Helene Premont (Rocky Mountain-Business Objects) recovering from a poor start to move into third, just ahead of Sabine Spitz (Specialized), Lene Byberg (Bikin' Cyprus International) and Nina Gohl (Multivan Merida).
Alison Sydor (Rocky Mountain-Business Objects), usually a strong rider in these tough conditions, was in the top-five on the start loop but had to stop to unlock a frozen fork, losing at least 15 places. Sydor would ride up through the field all race to finish ninth.
Premont admitted that the road start and the reduction of mud hurt her chances: "I had a poor start, I don't like all the people pushing and racing so tight, so I lost places. I hate that kind of fast pack start, but the others were very strong on the road. And it would have been better for me I think if they had left the mud parts in like two days ago. But, I still had a good race, even thought there was so much running, and it helps to make up for last week (when a flat with just over a lap to go took her out of second place)."
Premont rode consistently in third to finish a minute down on Kalentieva, while Spitz dropped Byberg in the final lap to take the final podium spot. China's surprisingly strong espoir rider, Ren Cheng Yuan, finished 11th and took over the lead in the espoir competition - the first time a Chinese rider has held a leader's jersey in the world cup.
Dahle maintains her perfect record in the series, with 750 points, but it's still tight for the next four spots, with only 85 points separating Spitz in second from Premont in fifth. One poor result will rearrange the standings considerably.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Bikin' Cyprus International MTB Team
Images by Rob Jones/www.canadiancyclist.com
1 Gunn-Rita Dahle (Nor) Multivan Merida Biking Team 1.36.51 2 Irina Kalentieva (Rus) Topeak-Ergon 2.00 3 Marie-Helene Premont (Can) Rocky Mountain Business Objects 3.00 4 Sabine Spitz (Ger) Specialized Factory Racing 4.00 5 Lene Byberg (Nor) Bikin'cyprus Int. 6 Nina Goehl (Ger) Multivan Merida Biking Team 5.00 7 Margarita Fullana Riera (Esp) Spiuk Illes Balears 7.00 8 Katerina Nash (Cze) Luna Women's Mtb 9 Alison Sydor (Can) Rocky Mountain Business Objects 8.00 10 Cecile Rode (Fra) Team Lapierre International 11 Ren Chengyuan (Chn) 12 Anna Enocsson (Swe) Ghost International Racing Team 13 Maja Wloszczowska (Pol) Lotto 14 Katrin Schwing (Ger) 15 Shonny Vanlandingham (USA) Luna Women's Mtb 9.00 16 Wendy Simms (Can) Velo Bella - Kona 17 Tereza Hurikova (Cze) Ceska Sporitelna Mtb 18 Anna Szafraniec (Pol) Lotto 19 Mary Mc Conneloug (USA) Kenda Seven 20 Sarah Koba (Sui) 21 Eva Lechner (Ita) 10.12 22 Nina Homovec (Slo) 10.21 23 Franziska Rothlin (Sui) Kona Verbier Factory Team 11.17 24 Helene Marcouyre (Fra) Bh-Sr. Suntour 11.19 25 Blaza Klemencic (Slo) 11.28 26 Kelli Emmett (USA) 11.34 27 Jingling Wang (Chn) 11.53 28 Willow Koerber (USA) Subaru-Gary Fisher 12.10 29 Kiara Bisaro (Can) Team R.A.C.E. 12.17 30 Sabrina Enaux (Fra) Team Lapierre International 12.30 31 Pia Sundstedt (Fin) Rocky Mountain Business Objects 12.36 32 Maria Ostergren (Swe) 12.39 33 Laura Turpijn (Ned) 12.48 34 Barbel Jungmeier (Aut) 13.04 35 Janka Stevkova (Svk) Max Cursor 13.06 36 Adelheid Morath (Ger) 13.42 37 Jaqueline Mourao (Bra) 13.59 38 Maria Osl (Aut) Tonis Pro Team Kirchberg 14.12 39 Rosara Joseph (NZl) 14.22 40 Elena Giacomuzzi (Ita) 14.24 41 Evelyn Staffler (Ita) 14.29 42 Ying Liu (Chn) 14.42 43 Elisabeth Osl (Aut) Tonis Pro Team Kirchberg 14.46 44 Jimena Florit (Arg) 14.47 45 Maureen Guichardot (Fra) Scott Les 2 Alpes 14.57 46 Magdalena Sadlecka (Pol) 15.15 47 Daniela Louis (Sui) 15.22 48 Arielle Van Meurs (Ned) 15.38 49 Jenny Copnall (GBr) Subaru-Gary Fisher 15.44 50 Katerina Bohata (Cze) 15.52 51 Heather Irmiger (USA) Subaru-Gary Fisher 16.37 52 Ivonne Kraft (Ger) 16.51 53 Githa Michiels (Bel) 17.01 54 Agnes Naumann (Ger) 17.19 55 Kathy Sherwin (USA) 17.22 56 Asa Maria Erlandsson (Swe) 17.58 57 Hanna Klein (Ger) 17.59 58 Catherine Delfosse (Bel) Massi-Abarth 18.48 59 Patricia Sinclair (Can) 19.07 60 Sara Bresnick (USA) 19.30 61 Maroussia Rusca (Sui) Team Bikepark.Ch Tui 19.34 62 Saskia Elemans (Ned) 20.02 63 Sheju Mei (Chn) 20.09 64 Caroline Mani (Fra) Massi-Abarth 20.16 65 Susan Haywood (USA) Trek Volkswagen Pro Factory Team 20.27 66 Wei Fang (Chn) 20.48 67 Sarka Chmurova (Cze) Max Cursor 21.08 68 Audrey Middendorp (Ned) 21.58 69 Elina Sophokleous (Cyp) Bikin'cyprus Int. 22.44 70 Lubomira Kalinova (Svk) 23.15 71 Caroline Jackson (GBr) 24.06 72 Carina Ketonen (Fin) 24.25 73 Cristina Mascarreras Sabria (Esp) 25.06 74 Hanna Israel (Fra) Team Orbea 25.59 75 Sandra Walter (Can) XO Felt 26.11 76 Nataliya Krompets (Ukr) 26.54 77 Linda Larsen (Nor) 28.28 78 Francisca Campos Salas (Chi) 29.48 79 Martina Feldmann (Can) XO Felt 30.40 80 Anouk Kesseler-Haarsma (Ned) 31.20 81 Genevieve Whitson (NZl) 32.39 1 lap down 82 Neus Parcersas (Esp) Msc Bikes 83 Ingrid Bosscha (Ned) 84 Kristien Nelen (Bel) 85 Stephanie Wiedner (Aut) 86 Elena Babikova Gogoleva (Rus) 87 Nancy Bober (Bel) 88 Carla Salgado (Mex) 89 Inbar Ronen (Isr) 90 Amanda Davies (NZl) 91 Lidy Spierings (Ned) 2 laps down 92 Monika Heuveling (Ned) 93 Klara Van Der Vaart (Ned) DNF Petra Henzi (Sui) Fischer-Bmc DNF Annika Smail (NZl) DNF Amy Hunt (GBr) DNF Bettina Schmid (Sui) DNF Karin Groen (Ned) DNF Marianne Teerenstra (Ned) DNF Magdalena Pyrgies (Pol) DNS Petra Mermans (Bel) DNS Sabine Bombaert (Bel)