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MTB World Cup XC #7 & DH #5 - CDM
Bromont, Canada, August 1-3, 2008
Race 4 - August 2: Elite women downhill
Atherton repeats in slippery conditions
By Sue George in Bromont, Québec
World Champion Rachel Atherton (Animal Commencal) overcame a disappointing, mistake-filled qualifying run to log her second, consecutive World Cup win with a smooth final fun despite rainy, slippery conditions Saturday afternoon. Sabrina Jonnier (Team Maxxis) was briefly in the hot seat, but had to settle for second again, a little over two seconds behind Atherton. Tracy Moseley (Kona) finished third, one additional second later.
"I set off at the gate, and I was pretty nervous because I had a bad qualifier," said Atherton. "The ground was really wet and I was a bit scared because it rained quite a lot at the top. I was slipping and sliding but I kept it pinned and tried to ride it like it was try. Luckily it paid off."
"It's good to win two weekends in a row," said Atherton, who not happy with her qualifier. "I didn't think I'd win here. I didn't know if I'd pull it back. When you have a bad race (as she said she did in qualifying), it's always good to pull it back with a good one."
Light rain started after the first four racers completed their final runs. After a few minutes of heavier rain, the precipitation tapered off, but the several of the women commented that after a week of regular and often heavy rains, conditions were even more slippery than in the morning's qualifying runs, which were conducted under cloudy skies on a downhill course that differed from when Bromont has previously held World Cups and the 1992 World Championship.
Miranda Miller, Elisa Canepa (Playerbike - Ironhorse), and Danice Uyesugi traded time in the hot seat before Anita Molcik (4 Elements Yeti) clocked a 3:35.25, five seconds faster than Uyesugi.
"The rain started when I was on the start," said Molcik, who was happy with her run. "The track was slippery. I had some stops, but I think in these conditions, every rider will have some problems - except maybe for the top three."
Neither of the trio of racers that followed her could better her time, but Floriane Pugin (Playerbike - Iron Horse) took advantage of her opportunity and posted a blazing 3:25.26.
"I wasn't expecting it to be so wet because we had rain at the start, but just for five minutes before, so I didn't think it would already be wet, but it was," said Pugin. "It was more slippery in finals than in qualifying, but I think it was my best run of the week."
Although Claire Buchar and Mio Suemasa (MS Intense Factory Racing) gave it their best shots, neither could best Pugin's time, a time that would hold up for fifth.
"There are a lot of flat sections where you have to do a lot of sprinting," said Buchar, Canada's best finisher in sixth. "It's tough physically. This track is so stop and go, with tight corners and mud. You need a lot of power here."
It was another French woman, Jonnier, who would unseat her with a 3:16.64. But Jonnier's time in the hot seat was especially short-lived as Atherton came down with a 3:14.68 immediately thereafter.
"It was really slippery so I just tried to stay on my bike, but it apparently wasn't fast enough," said Jonnier, who didn't blame the rain. "It was just how it was - it's not like I could do anything about it."
Try as they would, neither Moseley nor Emmeline Ragot (Suspension Center) could surpass Atherton.
"I didn't ride the bottom half well, but I'm pleased with how I rode the technical stuff," said Moseley. "It was another solid result. Not quite where I want to be but at least I'm close enough."
"The run wasn't bad," an understated, but relieved Atherton said after winning. "I made three mistakes, stalling and then I sort of hit a tree at the top - barely squeezed past. But I've learned from experience that you can never give up, no matter what happens."
A challenging course
The course seemed to take a toll on the women, many of whom were upset after their qualifying runs. The track challenged both the physical abilities of the women as well as their mental outlook.
"Even in the dry, it would have been a tough track, but the rain out there made it hard," said Moseley.
"There holes were getting bigger. There were a few sections I was hoping I could get through. Normally by race day, I can pretty much pin it when it comes to the track, but this was still pretty much a lottery. The rain at the start (of the final) was a bit of a worry."
"There were big holes where you don't expect them," added Harriet Harper. "It's claimed a few riders in spots. There are big rocks everywhere. It's a real mind game." The difficulty was impossible to put out of her mind. "I couldn't really sleep last night."
"The course is really difficult, especially with the mud," said Jonnier after her qualifying run.
Even World Champion Atherton seemed to struggle at first.
"In qualifying, I got to the first turn and messed up really badly," said Atherton. "I nearly crashed. Then I got to a few turns down and went over the bars. And then I got a few more turns down and hit a tree. I was surprised to still get the third best time. I knew if I had a good run in the final I'd be up there, but you never know with the girls - they always go faster in the finals."
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by FJ Hughes / www.fhughesphoto.com
Images by Dave McElwaine/www.trailwatch.net
1 Rachel Atherton (GBr) Animal Commencal 3.14.35 2 Sabrina Jonnier (Fra) Team Maxxis 0.02.29 3 Tracy Moseley (GBr) Kona 0.03.33 4 Emmeline Ragot (Fra) Suspension Center 0.03.80 5 Floriane Pugin (Fra) Playbiker - Iron Horse 0.10.91 6 Claire Buchar (Can) 0.20.24 7 Mio Suemasa (Jpn) MS-Intense Factory-Racing 0.20.43 8 Anita Molcik (Aut) 4 Elements Yeti 0.20.90 9 Scarlett Hagen (NZl) 0.24.56 10 Micayla Gatto (Can) 0.25.20 11 Danice Uyesugi (Can) 0.26.28 12 Fionn Griffiths (GBr) Norco World Team 0.37.02 13 Elisa Canepa (Ita) Playbiker - Iron Horse 0.50.63 14 Myriam Nicole (Fra) 0.52.73 15 Amy Laird (NZl) 0.54.14 16 Miranda Miller (Can) 0.56.58 17 Harriet Harper (NZl) 0.57.02 18 Amber Zirnhelt (Can) 1.49.35 19 Sheila Morris (Can) 2.14.65 DNS Caroline Buchanan (Aus) Teams 1 Santa Cruz Syndicate 90 pts 2 Animal Commencal 70 3 Team Maxxis 69 4 Monster Energy / Iron Horse 66 5 MS-Intense Factory-Racing 47 6 Playbiker - Iron Horse 46 7 Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team 42 8 Giant Mountain Bike Team 34 9 Kona 32 10 Suspension Center 30 11 Team Bike Radar 28 12 Chain Reaction Cycles/Intense 27 13 4 Elements Yeti/Hotec/RSP 23 14 Subaru Mountain Bike Pro Team 22 15 Kenda Tomac 22 16 Norco World Team 19 17 GT Bicycles 17 18 Team Sunn 15 19 Massi 11 20 Dolphin-Trek Mountainbike Racing Team 8 21 Cannondale Factory Racing 2 Semi-finals 1 Emmeline Ragot (Fra) Suspension Center 3.15.40 2 Tracy Mosely (GBr) Kona 0.04.79 3 Rachel Atherton (GBr) Animal Commencal 0.06.29 4 Sabrina Jonnier (Fra) Team Maxxis 0.07.88 5 Mio Suemesa (Jpn) MS-Intense Factory Racing 0.15.34 6 Claire Buchar (Can) 0.19.57 7 Floriane Pugin (Fra) Playbiker - Iron Horse 0.20.71 8 Fionn Griffiths (GBr) Norco World Team 0.23.76 9 Scarlett hagen (NZl) 0.27.41 10 Micayla Gatto (Can) 0.27.61 11 Anita Molcik (Aut) 4 Elements Yet 0.31.36 12 Danice Uyesugi (Can) 0.36.99 13 Myriam Nicole (Fra) 0.38.20 14 Amber Zirnhelt (Can) 0.41.83 15 Amy Laird (NZl) 0.50.47 16 Elisa Canepa (Ita) Playbiker Iron Horse 0.51.74 17 Harriet Harper (NZl) 1.11.05 18 Caroline Buchanan (Aus) 1.14.32 19 Miranda Miller (Can) 1.34.47 20 Sheila Morris (Can) 2.37.75 21 Katrina Strand (Can) 3.46.82 22 Anne Laplante (Can) 7.31.53 23 Helen Gaskell (GBr) 10.35.00 24 Helene Valer Fruhwirth (Aut) 16.19.22 DNS Emilie Siegenthaler (Swi) Suspension Center DNS Daniela Bossard (Swi) DNS Kim Huard (Can) DNS Wendy Reynolds (USA) DNS Diana Dromundo Vargas (Mex) World cup standings after five rounds 1 Rachel Atherton (GBr) Animal Commencal 1083 pts 2 Sabrina Jonnier (Fra) Team Maxxis 1000 3 Tracy Moseley (GBr) Kona 867 4 Emmeline Ragot (Fra) Suspension Center 641 5 Floriane Pugin (Fra) Playbiker - Iron Horse 558 6 Fionn Griffiths (GBr) Norco World Team 544 7 Mio Suemasa (Jpn) MS-Intense Factory-Racing 542 8 Claire Buchar (Can) 449 9 Myriam Nicole (Fra) 344 10 Céline Gros (Fra) Solid Aclass Factory Team 334 11 Anita Molcik (Aut) 4 Elements Yeti/Hotec/Rsp 333 12 Micayla Gatto (Can) 297 13 Emilie Siegenthaler (Swi) Suspension Center 225 14 Melissa Buhl (USA) 199 15 Kathleen Pruitt (USA) 191 16 Scarlett Hagen (NZl) 175 17 Katy Curd (GBr) 158 18 Helene Valerie Fruhwirth (Aut) 153 19 Petra Bernhard (Aut) 152 20 Danice Uyesugi (Can) 144 21 Miriam Ruchti (Swi) Sport Promotion 139 22 Diana Marggraff (Ecu) 136 23 Harriet Harper (NZl) 126 24 Amy Laird (NZl) 120 25 Elisa Canepa (Ita) Playbiker - Iron Horse 118 26 Joanna Petterson (RSA) 117 27 Anais Pajot (Fra) Team Sunn 114 28 Helen Gaskell (GBr) 96 29 Mélanie Pugin (Fra) Sport Promotion 66 30 Katrina Strand (Can) 65 31 Miranda Miller (Can) 58 32 Amber Zirnhelt (Can) 52 33 Sheila Morris (Can) 52 34 Dalma Kiss (Hun) 49 35 Marie-Eve Marcotte (Can) 46 36 Birgit Braumann (Aut) 46 37 Victoria Hernandez Molinas (Spa) 45 38 Pascaline Reusser (Swi) 43 39 Anka Martin (RSA) 9 40 Maria Michalogiannaki (Gre) 9 41 Jaymie Mart (Bar) 9 42 Sophie Borderes (Fra) 9 43 Aimee Dix (GBr) Mojo Orange 9 44 Anne Laplante (Can) 6 45 Sandra Rubesam (Ger) 6 46 Leoni-Caro. Dickerhoff (Ger) IXS Sports Division Racing Team 6 47 Katarina Tothova (Cze) 6 48 Caroline Buchanan (Aus) 3 49 Diana Lorena Dromundo Vargas (Mex) 3 50 Kim Huard (Can) 3 51 Darian Harvey (USA) 3 52 Wendy Reynolds (USA) 3 53 Calamaty Jayne Cann (GBr) 3 54 Silja Stadler (Swi) 3 55 Mireia Bosca Ballester (Spa) 3 56 Helena Boskova (Svk) 3 Teams 1 Santa Cruz Syndicate 449 pts 2 Animal Commencal 415 3 Monster Energy / Iron Horse 253 4 Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team 225 5 Team Maxxis 218 6 Chain Reaction Cycles/Intense 204 7 Subaru Mountain Bike Pro Team 190 8 Ms-Intense Factory-Racing 187 9 Suspension Center 177 10 Kona 158 11 Playbiker - Iron Horse 153 12 Norco World Team 126 13 Massi 86 14 Msc Bikes 85 15 4 Elements Yeti/Hotec/RSP 84 16 Solid Aclass Factory Team 76 17 Gt Bicycles 70 18 Team Bike Radar 69 19 Team Sunn 69 20 Mojo Orange 63 21 Kenda Tomac 58 22 Giant Mountain Bike Team 56 23 Sport Promotion 55 24 Team Pyrenees Morewood 46 25 Ixs Sports Division Racing Team 30 26 Lapierre Dh Powered By Saab Salomon 24 27 Dolphin-Trek Mountainbike Racing Team 23 28 Commencal - Furious - Oakley Team 18 29 Team Ghost International 9 30 Cannondale Factory Racing 8 31 Specialized Factory Racing 7