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MTB World Cup XC #6 & DH #4 - CDM

Mont Sainte Anne, Canada, July 25-27, 2008

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Race 7 - July 27: Elite men cross country

Absalon wins with solo race starting on opening lap

By Sue George in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Québec

French national champion Julien Absalon (Orbea) takes the victory
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
(Click for larger image)

Julien Absalon (Orbea) displayed fine form and well-honed technical skills as he dominated the elite men's cross country at the World Cup in Mont-Sainte-Anne. On the very first lap, he attacked his competition and left them behind to race for second.

Absalon wasn't originally planning on racing at Mont-Sainte-Anne. "After my bad race at worlds [where he DNF'ed - ed.], I changed my mind. I decided that it'd be better to do the World Cup here to keep racing on an international level and boost my confidence."

"I'm happy to win here - it's good for the mind with the Olympics in four weeks," said Absalon, who was wearing the French National Champion's jersey after winning the title again last weekend.

Some surged early and some took the long, steady approach on six laps of a demandingly technical course with plenty of steep climbing, but in the end it was Canadian Geoff Kabush (Maxxis) taking a solid second place after a largely solo ride throughout the race. U23 Racer Burry Stander (GT Bicycles) raced to a third place finish, picking off riders on his way.

Geoff Kabush (Maxxis) finished second
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
(Click for larger image)

From the gun, it was Absalon followed by Jose Antonio Hermida (Multivan Merida).

"I attacked in the first half to get in the front, so I could choose my lane and go where I wanted," said Absalon of his strategy. The win was a big boost for his confidence. "Before the world championships, it was difficult for me with back problems and lots of pressure. Now I'm in good shape."

Behind them were Jaroslav Kulhavy, Martin Gujan (Athleticum-MTB-Team), Lukas Flückiger (Athleticum-MTB-Team), Kabush, Seamus McGrath, Burry Stander (GT Bicycles), Max Plaxton (Rocky Mountain) and Adam Craig (Giant).

Kabush worked his way to the front of the chase at the beginning of lap two and eventually passed Hermida on lap three.

"My strategy was to go into the first climb at the front. I think I fell back to sixth or eighth. I stayed smooth and didn't fight too much on the first laps," said Kabush. "In the technical singletrack at the top of the first climb, I closed 20 or 30 seconds there in five minutes."

Jose Antonio Herminda Ramos (Multivan Merida)
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
(Click for larger image)

"I had to see what I could do to power back to Absalon. I thought he might tire a bit on his hardtail today, but he proved not to," said Kabush, who rode a dual suspension while many of the men rode hardtails.

The Canadian had the course dialled in. "I think I had more laps on the course than anyone after nationals last week." It helped him on his way to his best-ever finish at Mont-Sainte-Anne. Kabush has gotten second at a World Cup just once before - in 2005 at Angel Fire, New Mexico.

Hermida went from being in second to third to wondering whether he would finish the race after he crashed on the third lap.

"It was the crash of my life. I went flying and my bike landed far away. It had no seat afterward - it broke in the crash. My helmet was lost, too. I just sat for a few minutes or more, and they gave me water."

"I really thought I would have to quit the race. I've crashed in my life many times, but that was definitely one of the scariest ones - I just started flying and hit my head," said Hermida, still shaken after the finish.

He resumed racing, riding without a seat to the tech zone, where he got a new one installed. Eventually he started to come around and worked his way back up from 16th to 11th. "I banged my shoulder and knee - I think they will be painful later," he said after crossing the line.

Julien Absalon (Orbea) riding uphill
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
(Click for larger image)

Stander surprised himself with a third place in the middle of a pre-Beijing training block. "I had a rough first lap. I was pretty much riding into everything which wasn't the plan. I think I've been riding too much on the road."

Stander found his rhythm in the second lap when he was in ninth place, and slowed a bit before feeling good on the climbs on the third lap and starting to pick off racers on his way to a third place.

Riding a consistent pace throughout, Adam Craig (Giant Bicycles) kept passing riders who had gone out too hard and couldn't maintain their pace. On the last lap, he got a little extra help from Lady Luck and passed two more riders who suffered late race mechanicals.

Craig deliberately started conservatively, in 11th on the first lap. "Riding here is hard on you, but I was riding the good stuff all relaxed. I kept it smooth and conservative - that's how you ride fast at this race."

Adam Craig (Giant) riding in eighth place
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
(Click for larger image)

"I wasn't climbing all that well so all the guys who were pinning it Euro style were bouncing around on everything on the descents. Once they started cracking, they started messing up," said Craig, who worked to pick them off one by one.

Lukas Flückiger (Athleticum) earned the final spot on the podium with a fifth place.

World Champion Christoph Sauser (Swisspower) did not start the race after being injured in a crash yesterday. A trip to the hospital afterward got him five stitches in his leg.

"It would have been interesting to have Sauser in the race," said Absalon, "but it was a bad crash for him yesterday. I hope we will race in Bromont next weekend." That's where the next round of the World Cup will head August 1-3.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Dave McElwaine/www.trailwatch.net


1 Julien Absalon (Fra) Orbea                                    2.07.44
2 Geoff Kabush (Can) Team Maxxis                                   2.33
3 Burry Stander (RSA) GT Bicycle                                   4.53
4 Adam Craig (USA) Giant Mountain Bike Team                        5.17
5 Lukas Flückiger (Swi) Athleticum-MTB-Team                        5.37
6 Jaroslav Kulhavy (Cze)                                           6.20
7 Martin Gujan (Swi) Athleticum-MTB-Team                           7.03
8 Seamus Mcgrath (Can)                                             7.34
9 Liam Killeen (GBr) Specialized Factory Racing                    8.30
10 Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (USA) Subaru-Gary Fisher                 9.32
11 José Antonio Hermida Ramos (Spa) Multivan Merida Biking Team    9.39
12 Wolfram Kurschat (Ger) Topeak Ergon Racing Team                10.09
13 Hannes Metzler (Aut) Giant Mountain Bike Team                  10.45
14 Derek Zandstra (Can)                                           11.09
15 Bas Peters (Ned)                                               12.23
16 Michael Broderick (USA)                                        12.24
17 Jeremiah Bishop (USA) Trek-VW                                  12.30
18 Mathieu Toulouse (Can) Team Maxxis                             13.02
19 Cédric Ravanel (Fra) Team Lapierre International               14.06
20 Raphael Gagne (Can) Rocky Mountain                             14.33
21 Christoph Soukup (Aut)                                         14.48
22 Peter Glassford (Can)                                          15.25
23 Barry Wicks (USA) Kona                                         15.49
24 Samuel Schultz (USA) Subaru-Gary Fisher                        17.27
25 Max Plaxton (Can) Rocky Mountain                               18.05
26 Kris Sneddon (Can) Kona                                        18.13
27 Jan Skarnitzl (Cze)                                            18.38
28 Matthew Hadley (Can)                                           18.50
29 Todd Wells (USA) GT Bicycle                                    26.16
30 Jiri Friedl (Cze) Merida Biking Team                           32.06

Behind one lap

31 Anders Hovdenes (Nor) Team Etto Hoydahl                             
32 Karl Markt (Aut)                                                    
33 Connor Mcconvey (Irl)                                               
34 Stefan Widmer (Can)                                                 
35 Julien Fillion (Can)                                                
36 Ola Kjören (Nor)                                                    
37 Andrew Watson (Can)                                                 
38 Josef Kamler (Cze) Ceska Sporitelna MTB                             
39 Kashi Leuchs (NZl) Cannondale-Vredestein                            
40 Spencer Paxson (USA)                                                
41 Matous Ulman (Cze)                                                  
42 Adam Snyder (USA)                                                   
43 Pierre Lebreton (Fra) BH-SR. Suntour                                
44 Francis Morin (Can)                                                 
45 Calle Friberg (Swe)                                                 
46 Eric Batty (Can)                                                    
47 Cristobal Silva Ibaceta (Chi)                                       
48 Maxime Marotte (Fra) BH-SR. Suntour                                 
49 Ryan Atkins (Can)                                                   
50 Kenji Takeya (Jpn)                                                  
51 Kyle Douglas (Can)                                                  

Behind two laps

52 Frank Schotman (Ned)                                                
53 Ross Schnell (USA) Trek-VW                                          
54 Jonathan Boulanger (Can)                                            
55 Martin Fanger (Swi)                                                 
56 Nicola Rohrbach (Swi) Central Ghost Pro Team                        
57 Daniel Sessford (Can)                                               
58 Tad Elliot (USA)                                                    
59 Craig Richey (Can)                                                  
60 Freddy Betremieux (Fra) BH-SR. Suntour                              
61 Martin Loo (Est) Merida Biking Team                                 
62 Leni Trudel (Can)                                                   

Behind three laps

63 Martin Lazarski (Can)                                               
64 Ethan Gilmour (USA)                                                 
65 John Gray (NZl)                                                     
66 Troy Wells (USA)                                                    
67 Mitchell Peterson (USA)                                             
68 Pablo Roberto Voigt Rodriguez (Mex)                                 
69 Timothy Madgwick (NZl)    


1 Athleticum-MTB-Team              52 pts
2 Team Maxxis                      48
3 Giant Mountain Bike Team         48
4 Orbea                            40
5 GT Bicycles                      34
6 Subaru-Gary Fisher               28
7 Specialized Factory Racing       22
8 Multivan Merida Biking Team      20
9 Topeak Ergon Racing Team         19
10 Rocky Mountain                  17
11 Trek-VW                         14
12 Kona                            13
13 Team Lapierre International     12
14 Merida Biking Team               1

World Cup standings after six rounds

1 Julien Absalon (Fra) Orbea                                      1090 pts
2 Christoph Sauser (Swi) Specialized Factory Racing                855
3 Burry Stander (RSA) GT Bicycle                                   709
4 Geoff Kabush (Can) Team Maxxis                                   635
5 Nino Schurter (Swi) Swisspower Mtb Team                          626
6 Cédric Ravanel (Fra) Team Lapierre International                 583
7 Florian Vogel (Swi) Swisspower Mtb Team                          578
8 Martin Gujan (Swi) Athleticum-MTB-Team                           534
9 Adam Craig (USA) Giant Mountain Bike Team                        528
10 José Antonio Hermida Ramos (Spa) Multivan Merida Biking Team    524
11 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Orbea                              520
12 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Cannondale-Vredestein                      490
13 Christoph Soukup (Aut)                                          482
14 Todd Wells (USA) GT Bicycle                                     478
15 Lukas Flückiger (Swi) Athleticum-MTB-Team                       458
16 Kashi Leuchs (NZl) Cannondale-Vredestein                        441
17 Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Full-Dynamix-It                        387
18 Seamus Mcgrath (Can)                                            386
19 Jürg Graf (Swi) Swisspower Mtb Team                             376
20 Ruben Ruzafa Cueto (Spa) Orbea                                  340
21 Marco Aurelio Fontana (Ita)                                     340
22 Inaki Lejarreta Errasti (Spa) Orbea                             308
23 Roel Paulissen (Bel) Cannondale-Vredestein                      299
24 Jaroslav Kulhavy (Cze)                                          294
25 Oliver Beckingsale (GBr) Giant Mountain Bike Team               284
26 Wolfram Kurschat (Ger) Topeak Ergon Racing Team                 253
27 Hannes Metzler (Aut) Giant Mountain Bike Team                   251
28 Tony Longo (Ita) Full-Dynamix-It                                231
29 Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (USA) Subaru-Gary Fisher                 223
30 Sergio Mantecon Gutierrez (Spa) Cemelorca-Seguros10.Com         220
31 Thomas Frischknecht (Swi) Swisspower Mtb Team                   219
32 Milan Spesny (Cze) Merida Biking Team                           212
33 Yader Zoli (Ita) Giant Italia Team                              208
34 Ralph Naef (Swi) Multivan Merida Biking Team                    200
35 Karl Markt (Aut)                                                197
36 Chris Jongewaard (Aus) Dolphin-Trek Mountainbike Racing Team    196
37 Liam Killeen (GBr) Specialized Factory Racing                   190
38 Manuel Fumic (Ger) Fumic.Brothers.International                 176
39 Lado Fumic (Ger) Fumic.Brothers.International                   171
40 Moritz Milatz (Ger) Multivan Merida Biking Team                 165
41 Emil Lindgren (Swe) Full-Dynamix-It                             161
42 Rudi Van Houts (Ned) Dolphin-Trek Mountainbike Racing Team      160
43 Bas Peters (Ned)                                                158
44 Ivan Alvarez Gutierrez (Spa) Giant Italia Team                  152
45 Bart Brentjens (Ned) Dolphin-Trek Mountainbike Racing Team      149
46 Sven Nys (Bel)                                                  130
47 Gion Manetsch (Swi) Athleticum-MTB-Team                         128
48 Matthias Flückiger (Swi) Athleticum-MTB-Team                    127
49 Andreas Kugler (Swi) Fischer-BMC                                125
50 Karl Platt (Ger) Team Bulls                                     123
51 Samuel Schultz (USA) Subaru-Gary Fisher                         118
52 Carlos Coloma Nicolas (Spa) ECP-Tau Ceramica                    106
53 Stéphane Tempier (Fra) Gewiss Bianchi                           105
54 Jochen Kass (Ger) Team Alb-Gold Mountainbike                    103
55 Jeremiah Bishop (USA) Trek-VW                                    99
56 Michael Weiss (Aut)                                              99
57 Derek Zandstra (Can)                                             98
58 Anders Hovdenes (Nor) Team Etto Hoydahl                          98
59 Jan Skarnitzl (Cze)                                              96
60 Mathieu Toulouse (Can) Team Maxxis                               95
61 Michael Broderick (USA)                                          92
62 Jiri Friedl (Cze) Merida Biking Team                             92
63 Tim Bohme (Ger) Team Alb-Gold Mountainbike                       89
64 Martino Fruet (Ita)                                              86
65 Peter Riis Andersen (Den) Team Alb-Gold Mountainbike             82
66 Frank Schotman (Ned)                                             78
67 Marti Gispert Labarta (Spa) ECP-Tau Ceramica                     78
68 Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) Scott Valloire Galibier                  75
69 Raphael Gagne (Can) Rocky Mountain                               66
70 Peter Glassford (Can)                                            62
71 Barry Wicks (USA) Kona                                           60
72 Connor Mcconvey (Irl)                                            59
73 Nicola Rohrbach (Swi) Central Ghost Pro Team                     58
74 Israel Nunez Baticon (Spa) Massi                                 57
75 Max Plaxton (Can) Rocky Mountain                                 56
76 Till Marx (Swi) Swisspower Mtb Team                              55
77 Kris Sneddon (Can) Kona                                          54
78 Matthew Hadley (Can)                                             50
79 Josef Kamler (Cze) Ceska Sporitelna MTB                          48
80 Marc Colom (Fra)                                                 47
81 Kristian Hynek (Cze)                                             42
82 Maxime Marotte (Fra) BH-SR. Suntour                              41
83 Fabian Giger (Swi)                                               41
84 Lachlan Norris (Aus)                                             41
85 Christof Bischof (Swi)                                           40
86 Marek Galinski (Pol) JBG2-APC Presmet                            39
87 Stefan Widmer (Can)                                              38
88 Pierre Lebreton (Fra) BH-SR. Suntour                             37
89 Julien Fillion (Can)                                             36
90 Ola Kjören (Nor)                                                 34
91 Alban Lakata (Aut) Dolphin-Trek Mountainbike Racing Team         34
92 Giuseppe Lamastra (Ita)                                          34
93 Martin Fanger (Swi)                                              33
94 Andrew Watson (Can)                                              32
95 Ricky Federau (Can)                                              31
96 Sid Taberlay (Aus)                                               30
97 Daniel Mcconnell (Aus)                                           30
98 Ian Bibby (GBr)                                                  29
99 Spencer Paxson (USA)                                             28
100 Marc Trayter Alemany (Spa) ECP-Tau Ceramica                     28
101 Matous Ulman (Cze)                                              27
102 Klaus Nielsen (Den) Team Alb-Gold Mountainbike                  27
103 Davy Coenen (Bel)                                               27
104 Adam Snyder (USA)                                               26
105 Mattias Wengelin (Swe)                                          26
106 Dario Alejandro Gasco (Arg) Massi                               26
107 Patrik Gallati (Swi) Swisspower Mtb Team                        25
108 Francis Morin (Can)                                             24
109 Calle Friberg (Swe)                                             23
110 Eric Batty (Can)                                                22
111 Andras Parti (Hun)                                              22
112 Cristobal Silva Ibaceta (Chi)                                   21
113 Alexander Wetterhall (Swe)                                      21
114 Ryan Atkins (Can)                                               19
115 Jelmer Pietersma (Ned) Beone Chainreaction Mountainbiketeam     19
116 Kenji Takeya (Jpn)                                              18
117 Nicolas Bazin (Fra) BH-SR. Suntour                              18
118 Kyle Douglas (Can)                                              17
119 Ian Wilkinson (GBr)                                             17
120 Pascal Meyer (Swi)                                              16
121 Ross Schnell (USA) Trek-VW                                      15
122 Bjorn Brems (Bel)                                               15
123 David Lozano Riba (Spa) MSC Bikes                               15
124 Jonathan Boulanger (Can)                                        14
125 Javier Eduardo Puschel (Chi)                                    14
126 Paul Van Der Ploeg (Aus)                                        14
127 Pierre Geoffroy Plantet (Fra) Team Lapierre International       13
128 Alejandro Diaz De La Pena Lopez (Spa)                           13
Team standings

1 Orbea                                                            405 pts
2 Swisspower MTB Team                                              318
3 Cannondale-Vredestein                                            231
4 GT Bicycles                                                      224
5 Athleticum-MTB-Team                                              195
6 Specialized Factory Racing                                       185
7 Giant Mountain Bike Team                                         173
8 Multivan Merida Biking Team                                      137
9 Team Maxxis                                                      128
10 Team Lapierre International                                     118
11 Full-Dynamix-IT                                                 117
12 Dolphin-Trek Mountainbike Racing Team                            59
13 Subaru-Gary Fisher                                               44
14 Topeak Ergon Racing Team                                         40
15 Fumic.Brothers.International                                     39
16 Cemelorca-Seguros10.Com                                          37
17 Giant Italia Team                                                37
18 Merida Biking Team                                               19
19 Ecp-Tau Ceramica                                                 18
20 Rocky Mountain                                                   17
21 Trek-VW                                                          14
22 Kona                                                             13
23 Fischer-BMC                                                      10
24 Gewiss Bianchi                                                    1
25 Scott Valloire Galibier                                           1