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MTB World Cup XC #6 & DH #4 - CDM
Mont Sainte Anne, Canada, July 25-27, 2008
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
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.
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."
"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.
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."
"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) Teams 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