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An off-road weekend
September 23-24 sees Olympic cycling move to the trails of Fairfield City Farm, with the women's and men's cross country mountain bike races scheduled to start at 13:00. The starting list for each race is smaller than a typical World Cup event: 30 women and 50 men, but the quality is of the highest standard. This is the second time that mountain biking has been held at the Olympics.
Saturday will see defending Olympic Champion, Paola Pezzo (Italy) up against the likes of 2000 World Champion Margarita Fullana (Spain) and 2000 World Cup winner, Barbara Blatter (Switzerland). Local favourite is Mary Grigson, who is ranked 13th in the world and finished 5th overall in the World cup. Strong challenges are expected from USA's Alison Dunlap and Canada's Alison Sydor and Chrissy Redden with Russian Alla Epifanova, New Zealander Susy Pryde and Argentinian Jimena Florit not to be ruled out.
The women's race consists of one short lap (1.2 km) followed by five 6.9 km laps, for a total of 35.7 km on the tricky but balanced course. The weather has been dry in Sydney all winter, and the course is hard packed.
On Sunday, 50 of the world's best male mountain bikers will line up for their 49.5 km race. The men will ride one short lap and seven full laps, with an expected race time of 2:15. The field contains the top 17 riders on the UCI rankings, including 2000 World Cup winner and World Champion, Miguel Martinez (France).
Martinez will go into the event as favourite, but there will be plenty of riders out to stop him. Belgian Filip Meirhaeghe has been tipped to challenge strongly, but with riders such as Thomas Frischknecht and Christophe Sauser (Swi), Bart Brentjens and Bas Van Dooren (Ned), Cadel Evans (Aus), Roland Green (Can), Marco Bui (Ita), Rune Hoydahl (Nor) and Pavel Tcherkassov (Rus), the race for gold is certainly open. Martinez' teammate, Christophe Dupouey is also well credentialled after placing third in the World Cup this year.
Defending Olympic champion is Bart Brentjens (Ned), who beat Frischknecht and Martinez in Atlanta.
Men Women 1 Bart Brentjens (Ned) 1 Barbara Blatter (Swi) 2 Miguel Martinez (Fra) 2 Alison Sydor (Can) 3 Thomas Frischknecht (Swi) 3 Alison Dunlap (USA) 4 Bas Van Dooren (Ned) 4 Corine Dorland (Ned) 5 Filip Meirhaeghe (Bel) 5 Chantal Daucourt (Swi) 6 Christoph Sauser (Swi) 6 Alla Epifanova (Rus) 7 Roland Green (Can) 7 Margarita Fullana (Spa) 8 Roel Paulissen (Bel) 8 Chrissy Redden (Can) 9 Cadel Evans (Aus) 9 Ruth Matthes (USA) 10 Jose Antonio Hermida (Spa) 10 Sophie Villeneuve (Fra) 11 Christophe Dupouey (Fra) 11 Jimena Florit (Arg) 12 Lado Fumic (Ger) 12 Sabine Spitz (Ger) 13 Rune Hoeydahl (Nor) 13 Mary Grigson (Aus) 14 Ludovic Dubau (Fra) 14 Hedda Zu Putlitz (Ger) 15 Patrick Tolhoek (Ned) 15 Ann Trombley (USA) 16 Kashi Leuchs (NZl) 16 Laurence Leboucher (Fra) 17 Roberto Lezaun (Spa) 17 Paola Pezzo (Ita) 18 Paul Rowney (Aus) 18 Silvia Rovira (Spa) 19 Michael Rasmussen (Den) 19 Anna Baylis (Aus) 20 Pavel Tcherkassov (Rus) 20 Lesley Tomlinson (Can) 21 Thomas Hochstrasser (Swi) 21 Caroline Alexander (GBr) 22 Rob Woods (Aus) 22 Louise Robinson (GBr) 23 Geoff Kabush (Can) 23 Erica Lynn Green (RSA) 24 Primoz Strancar (Slo) 24 Yanping Ma (Chn) 25 Marek Galinski (Pol) 25 Tarja Owens (Irl) 26 Tom Larsen (Nor) 26 Hiroko Nambu (Jpn) 27 Hubert Pallhuber (Ita) 27 Flor Marina Delgadillo (Col) 28 Marco Bui (Ita) 28 Susy Pryde (NZl) 29 Peter Van Den Abeele (Bel) 29 Ka-Wah Yeung Alexandra (Hkg) 30 Carsten Bresser (Ger) 30 Ragnhild Kostoel (Nor) 31 Radim Korinek (Cze) 32 Tinker Juarez (USA) 33 Jesper Agergaard (Den) 34 Rok Drasler (Slo) 35 Oliver Beckingsale (GBr) 36 Nick Craig (GBr) 37 Robin Seymour (Irl) 38 Ziranda Madrigal (Mex) 39 Travis Brown (USA) 40 Jose Adrian Bonilla (Crc) 41 Diego Garavito (Col) 42 Mannie Heymans (Nam) 43 Renato Seabra (Bra) 44 Sergiy Rysenko (Ukr) 45 Dong Woo Kang (Kor) 46 Raita Suzuki (Jpn) 47 Ignacio Gili (Arg) 48 Ken Muhindi (Ken) 49 Derek Horton (Gum)
Men Women 1996: 1 Bart Brentjens (Ned) 1 Paola Pezzo (Ita) 2 Thomas Frischknecht (Swi) 2 Alison Sydor (Can) 3 Miguel Martinez (Fra) 3 Susan Demattei (USA)