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MTB World Championships - CM
Livigno, Italy, August 31-September 4, 2005
Race 8 - September 4: Elite Men and Women Cross Country
2005 follows 2004
By Rob Jones in Livigno
As the saying goes - "It was deja vu all over again!" Julien Absalon (France) and Gunn-Rita Dahle both repeated as world champions today in the elite cross-country races which close out the 2005 Mountain Bike World Championships in Livigno, Italy.
Dahle defeats all again - and says she's not stopping any time soon
Gunn-Rita makes it look easy, and she hasn't offered any encouragement to her rivals for the future - announcing in the post-race press conference that she intends to keep racing until the Beijing Olympics in 2008, where she will defend the gold medal.
The women faced two and a half laps of the 12.1 kilometre circuit, starting with a short half loop of the figure eight course and then two full laps. Three time world champion Alison Sydor (Canada) led the charge up the first climb, closely followed by Dahle, Marie-Helene Premont (Canada), Poland's Maja Wloszczowska, Petra Henzi (Switzerland) and Sabine Spitz (Germany). Four kilometres later, at the end of the first loop, Dahle already had 35 seconds on Wloszczowska, with the rest of the field falling further behind.
Dahle appeared to go into cruise control, although she still recorded the fastest laps every lap of the race. Wloszczowska rode consistently in second place, managing to hold the gap to just over two minutes. Behind the front two there was a shuffle going on, with Petra Henzi moving up from sixth after the first short lap to third by the end of the first full lap. Premont fell back, explaining that the course did not suit her talents.
"I am not as strong on the flat sections as some other riders, and this race much more flat pieces than normal, so it was very tough for me. I could make up time on Petra (Henzi) on the climbs, but she was much stronger than me on the flat parts."
Premont was fighting to hold off Sabine Spitz for fourth, while Sydor was chasing the German for fifth. At the end of the first full lap, Spitz was only seven seconds behind Premont, but began to fade in the final lap. Sydor was picking up the pace behind, managing to move from 1:07 back to only 22 seconds in arrears by the finish line.
"I felt really good at the start, and I wanted to ride conservatively in the early part because it is tough at this altitude (1800 metres). I wanted to save my energy for the last lap, but I lost too much time to make up at the end. Sixth place isn't too bad on this tough course."
Dahle may have made it look easy, but she was fighting tears on the podium. After winning the Marathon Worlds in Lillehammer, the European Championships and now her third cross-country world title all in one year, the Norwegian isn't blasé about this latest title.
"Achieving another rainbow jersey makes this a perfect day for me. It is still unbelievable for me to win a rainbow jersey. Today, I think I had my best race of the year. Everything came down on me at the podium, with all my family there it was an unbelievable moment."
- Wloszczowska won her fourth silver medal, but had no complaints. "Another silver - I like my silvers! As a Junior I had a silver, and last year a silver in Les Gets, but this year I did not expect silver. I don't know whether to laugh or cry."
She also spoke about the strength of the Polish women's team: "I think the main thing is our great coach, Andrej Piatek. All of the riders (for the national team) are on the same (professional) team; coaching and riding together 200 days a year. So the strength is the coach and the team."
Dahle also spoke of the difference between winning the Marathon world title in her home country, and the cross-country title. "It is very hard to compare. Winning a world title in Norway was beyond a dream; we didn't know a year ago that we would have the world championship. On the other side, my sport is cross-country, and the stature of being world champion is special. I intend to wear the jersey and race all over the world representing our sport of mountain biking.
Now I think I am a complete rider, so I can win both, but the competition is getting higher (in the Marathon); the time was close in Lillehammer. I think it will become harder and harder for cross-country riders to beat the marathon specialists, especially now that they have their own World Cup series."
Absalon triumphs as flats plague hard-fought men's race
While Julien Absalon may have defended his title like Gunn-Rita Dahle, he had a much tougher battle. The three and a half lap race saw attacks and counterattacks, with both Absalon and silver medallist Christoph Sauser (Switzerland) suffering flats.
Marco Bui (Italy), racing in front of a partisan crowd, got off to one of his patented fast starts in the first half lap, stringing the field out. Absalon, Sauser, Fredrik Kessiakoff (Sweden) and Ralph Naf (Switzerland) led the chase, with Jose Hermida (Spain), Hector Paez (Colombia), Thomas Frischknecht (Switzerland) and Geoff Kabush (Canada) in the next chase group.
Bui blew after the first full lap, and Naf succumbed to a broken chain and a flat tire - one of a number, including Kabush, Adam Craig (USA) and a late surging Seamus McGrath, who managed to move up to as high as tenth before puncturing in the final lap.
At the front, the lead group coalesced on the first full lap into Absalon, Sauser, Naf, Kessiakoff and Hermida. Hermida revealed that he made a tactical error during the race, which could have cost him one or two spots on the podium.
"It was really tough out there, a long and strategic race."
"The whole time there were attacks by the strongest - Susy (Sauser) and Julien. My mistake was to stay last in the group, so when they attacked in the single track I was blocked. I couldn't pass until the wider path, and they (Naf and Kessiakoff) wouldn't work. I had to do the work - I tried to motivate them: 'tomorrow is not a race, this is the day', but they wouldn't do anything. On the last lap I started to attack alone, and Kessiakoff was dropped (Naf had fallen back with a flat). I heard that Susy was in front with a flat, but I could not do it.
"I can be proud of my race I think - I pushed, I attacked, I played my cards. When you do that you can sleep at night."
While Hermida was chasing, both Sauser and Absalon were having problems. Both flatted and received new wheels in the technical zone, but Sauser felt that he made a tactical error which cost him the title.
"I cornered too hard, and lost some pressure in my wheel - not completely flat but slower, harder to ride. I should have taken (the time) to use a CO2 cartridge in the first zone, but I decided to tell the team, so that they could have it all prepared at the next zone. But this slowed me down a lot to get to the next zone and I lost concentration, and when I got there I saw Julien just pulling out and realized he had a mechanical problem also. I had a long time to replace my wheel because of the disc (brake) - I'm lucky Jose (Hermida) didn't catch me. If I had taken the cartridge (earlier) I think I would be world champion now."
Absalon's difficulties extended beyond his flat. "I had a rear flat on the second lap and I didn't realize it right away. After my wheel change I took a bath in the river after I fell off the bank! then I started to get cramps, so it took great concentration to continue to the end."
Absalon's winning margin was a slim 18 seconds, and Hermida was only a further 36 seconds behind Sauser, so the race could have easily turned out differently.
- Absalon took a different program for the year to build up for the Worlds, skipping the World Cup races after #4. "I like to have a main goal each year to motivate me, last year it was the Olympics and this year the world championships. After Houffalize (World Cup) I had a break and then prepared for Livigno. I realized that it would be a fight, because my rivals, like Sauser, Hermida and Bui would be very strong, but at the same time I had to measure my strength to save energy to the end"
He also commented on the fact that he likes to race from the front. "I have a problem if I am not leading, it is true. I feel more confident if I am alone and in front, and the others have to chase me."
- Sauser and Absalon both spoke in the press conference about being the World Cup champion versus World Champion:
Sauser: "I would like to be world champion more than World Cup leader. The World Cup is cool because it is all year long, but for the World's everything has to come together for two hours. We (riders) probably spend six months thinking about this day. It is such a big step, second to first, to get the bloody jersey, but I have had such bad luck. But, like the World Cup, which took me a long time to win overall after seconds, thirds, so it will happen also with the world championship."
Absalon: "It is true that in the World Cup you need to be very regular all season and you have to adapt for all of the different tracks. It is very different for the world championships, you have to have everything come together for one day. I prefer this one day.'
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Marek Lazarski/www.lazarskiphoto.com
Images by Rob Jones/www.canadiancyclist.com
Men - 43.00 km 1 Julien Absalon (France) 2.07.34 (20.22 km/h) 2 Christoph Sauser (Switzerland) 0.18 3 Jose Antonio Hermida Ramos (Spain) 0.54 4 Fredrik Kessiakoff (Sweden) 1.32 5 Thomas Frischknecht (Switzerland) 4.15 6 Manuel Fumic (Germany) 4.17 7 Hector Leonardo Paez Leon (Colombia) 4.29 8 Silvio Bundi (Switzerland) 4.47 9 Oliver Beckingsale (Great Britain) 5.08 10 Carlos Coloma Nicolas (Spain) 5.18 11 Marco Bui (Italy) 6.18 12 Lado Fumic (Germany) 6.19 13 Kashi Leuchs (New Zealand) 6.31 14 Geoff Kabush (Canada) 6.39 15 Balz Weber (Switzerland) 6.42 16 Liam Killeen (Great Britain) 7.00 17 Cédric Ravanel (France) 7.43 18 Roel Paulissen (Belgium) 7.46 19 Seamus Mcgrath (Canada) 8.11 20 Miguel Martinez (France) 8.23 21 Adam Craig (United States Of America) 8.46 22 Bart Brentjens (Netherlands) 9.02 23 Alejandro Diaz De La Pena Lo (Spain) 9.04 24 Peter Riis Andersen (Denmark) 9.09 25 Christoph Soukup (Austria) 9.13 26 Bas Peters (Netherlands) 9.41 27 Martin Gujan (Switzerland) 9.56 28 Mathieu Toulouse (Canada) 10.09 29 Moritz Milatz (Germany) 10.10 30 Martino Fruet (Italy) 10.33 31 Stefan Sahm (Germany) 10.53 32 Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (United States Of America) 11.05 33 Karl Platt (Germany) 11.15 34 Thijs Al (Netherlands) 11.42 35 Ralph Näf (Switzerland) 36 Maarten Tjallingii (Netherlands) 11.58 37 Michael Weiss (Austria) 12.41 38 Marek Galilski (Poland) 12.54 39 Ramon Bianchi (Italy) 12.57 40 Marc Trayter Alemany (Spain) 13.27 41 Florian Vogel (Switzerland) 14.02 42 Michael Broderick (United States Of America) 14.06 43 Jader Zoli (Italy) 14.08 44 Sid Taberlay (Australia) 14.37 45 Sergiy Rysenko (Ukraine) 15.28 46 Jelmer Pietersma (Netherlands) 15.38 47 Alban Lakata (Austria) 15.44 48 Carl Decker (United States Of America) 16.01 49 Ricky Federau (Canada) 16.15 50 Mirko Pirazzoli (Italy) 17.35 51 Karl Markt (Austria) 17.40 52 Klaus Nielsen (Denmark) 17.45 53 Roman Rametsteiner (Austria) 17.59 54 Todd Wells (United States Of America) 18.07 55 Miha Solar (Slovenia) 18.21 56 Johann Pallhuber (Italy) 18.27 57 Juan P. Trujillo Hernandez (Spain) 18.43 58 Edivando Cruz (Brazil) 19.21 59 Robin Seymour (Ireland) 20.14 60 Caspar Austa (Estonia) 20.31 61 Radim Korinek (Czech Republic) 20.52 62 Jérome Chevalier (France) 21.18 63 Martin Kraler (Austria) 21.54 64 Dario Acquaroli (Italy) 21.55 65 Maxim Gogolev (Russian Federation) 22.11 66 Hiroki Irokawa (Japan) 22.52 67 Carlos Franco Gennero (Argentina) 24.19 68 Mannie Heymans (Namibia) 24.50 69 Hannes Genze (Germany) 24.56 70 Szilard Buruczki (Hungary) 26.45 71 Julian Andres Rodas Ramirez (Colombia) 27.16 72 Ovidiu Tudor Oprea (Romania) 28.11 73 Dylan Cooper (Australia) 28.41 74 Bilal Akgul (Turkey) 29.25 75 Michael Northcott (New Zealand) 29.49 76 Kris Sneddon (Canada) 30.10 77 Ricardo Ribeiro (Portugal) 31.38 78 Igor Bogdan (Ukraine) 31.40 79 Andras Parti (Hungary) 42.07 1 lap behind 80 Raita Suzuki (Japan) 81 Boris Popovic (Serbia And Montenegro) 82 Brandon Stewart (South Africa) 83 Yunus Yetkin (Turkey) 84 Pavao Roset (Croatia) 85 Keiichi Tsujiura (Japan) 86 Ivica Mesaric (Croatia) 87 Zoran Zivkovic (Serbia And Montenegro) DNF Jean Christophe Peraud (France) DNF Jochen Kaess (Germany) DNF Milan Spesny (Czech Republic) DNF Marti Gispert Labarta (Spain) DNF Roland Green (Canada) DNF Wayne Hiscock (New Zealand) DNF Brent Miller (Australia) DNF Nelio Simao (Portugal) DNF Hakon Austad (Norway) DNF Hasan Kandemir (Turkey) Women's XC - 30.45 km 1 Gunn-Rita Dahle (Norway) 1.47.19 (17.02 km/h) 2 Maja Wloszczowska (Poland) 2.09 3 Petra Henzi (Switzerland) 3.07 4 Marie-Helene Premont (Canada) 4.14 5 Sabine Spitz (Germany) 5.27 6 Alison Sydor (Canada) 5.49 7 Mary McConneloug (United States Of America) 6.14 8 Severine Hansen (France) 7.01 9 Irina Kalentieva (Russian Federation) 7.25 10 Anna Enocsson (Sweden) 7.36 11 Adelheid Morath (Germany) 9.27 12 Shonny Vanlandingham (United States Of America) 9.36 13 Blaza Klemencic (Slovenia) 9.46 14 Paola Pezzo (Italy) 10.00 15 Eva Lechner (Italy) 10.09 16 Rosara Joseph (New Zealand) 10.31 17 Anna Szafraniec (Poland) 10.39 18 Cecile Rode (France) 11.56 19 Katrin Leumann (Switzerland) 12.15 20 Lene Byberg (Norway) 12.20 21 Katerina Hanusova (Czech Republic) 22 Ivonne Kraft (Germany) 12.47 23 Nina Gohl (Germany) 12.59 24 Nina Homovec (Slovenia) 13.26 25 Elisabeth Osl (Austria) 13.36 26 Willow Koerber (United States Of America) 13.45 27 Maria Ostergren (Sweden) 13.51 28 Evelyn Staffler (Italy) 14.34 29 Emilie Siegenthaler (Switzerland) 14.43 30 Laurence Leboucher (France) 14.44 31 Trish Sinclair (Canada) 14.59 32 Sarah Koba (Switzerland) 15.10 33 Bernardine Boog-Rauwerda (Netherlands) 15.21 34 Magdalena Sadlecka (Poland) 17.20 35 Kelli Emmett (United States Of America) 17.24 36 Bärbel Jungmeier (Austria) 17.50 37 Heather Irmiger (United States Of America) 17.55 38 Robyn Wong (New Zealand) 18.05 39 Claudia Marsilio (Italy) 18.06 40 Rie Katayama (Japan) 18.39 41 Maroussia Rusca (Switzerland) 19.23 42 Sabrina Enaux (France) 19.39 43 Nathalie Schneitter (Switzerland) 20.21 44 Janka Stevkova (Slovakia) 20.37 45 Maaris Meier (Estonia) 20.53 46 Sandra Klose (Germany) 20.55 47 Sonia Foote (New Zealand) 20.57 48 Masami Mashimo (Japan) 49 Mical Dyck (Canada) 21.13 50 Maria Osl (Austria) 21.18 51 Franziska Rothlin (Switzerland) 22.14 52 Catherine Pendrel (Canada) 22.37 53 Elena Gaddoni (Italy) 23.48 54 Jaqueline Mourao (Brazil) 24.09 55 Laura Lorenza Morfin (Mexico) 25.51 56 Katrin Schwing (Germany) 26.13 57 Cristina Mascarreras Sabria (Spain) 27.59 58 Amanda Sin (Canada) 28.38 59 Carla Salgado (Mexico) 31.27 60 Niki Gudex (Australia) 32.26 61 Francisca Campos Salas (Chile) 32.27 62 Emma Colson (Australia) 32.41 63 Tarja Owens (Ireland) 33.22 64 Oxana Rybakova (Russian Federation) 38.36 65 Niki Fisher (Australia) 38.37 66 Viena Balen (Croatia) 43.09 67 Margarita Noelia Rodriguez (Argentina) 45.22 1 lap behind 68 Hanlie Booyens (South Africa) 69 Carmen Bassingthwaighte (Namibia) 70 Emese Simon (Hungary) DNF Kiara Bisaro (Canada) DNF Petra Schorkmayer (Austria) DNF Rocio Gamonal Ferrera (Spain) DNF Ivana Ruszkowski (Croatia) DNS Jennifer Smith (New Zealand)