Posted by Editoress on 08/29/10
Exciting World Cup Final in Windham
Our coverage of the 2010 World Cup Final brought to you with the support of Shimano
The final round of the 2010 Mountain Bike World Cup concluded on Sunday in Windham, New York, with the crowd favourite Downhill. The riders did not disappoint, with tight races in both the men's and women's events. Rachel Atherton (Commencal) took the women's win, while Sabrina Jonnier (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) easily won her fifth overall title. The men's overall competition was down to two riders - Gee Atherton (Commencal) and Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate). Atherton sealed the title by winning; 37 hundredths of a second in front of Minnaar.
The competition for the women's title was all but over, with Jonnier holding an almost insurmountable 155 point lead over world champion Emmeline Ragot (Suspension Center) after qualifying on Friday. Mio Suemasa (Funn Bike) set the early fast time, which ended up being good enough for fourth. Suemasa held the Hot Seat until Atherton came down, four riders from the end, and the British rider knocked over seven and a half seconds from the leading time.
Neither of the final two riders - Ragot and fastest qualifier Tracy Moseley (Trek World Racing) - could come close to Atherton's time. Atherton, back from missing much of the season with a shoulder injury, showed that she will be a force to contend with at next week's world championships by blitzing the women's field by 1.36 seconds.
"I am so surprised," said Rachel Atherton. "It is so dry and fast, and having not raced for so long ..... I just did not know. I was just so happy I got to the bottom, it was such a complete surprise to win. I had nothing lose so I put it all on the line. Just late braking, pushing it that extra bit. I can't believe it."
"I know now I am ready for the Worlds. This weekend I thought: well, whatever happens, happens. I am just so happy to be racing again. No pressure. Now I have made some pressure for myself, because I know I can push myself this hard."
Jonnier, who finished eighth in the Final, took the title with 1130 points, followed by Ragot at 1045 and Moseley with 909.
"I couldn't get my head into racing this week," explained Jonnier. "I don't know what it was, but I was making a lot of mistakes all week and not riding good. I'm just happy to have this finished so that I can concentrate on the world championships."
The men had a race within a race - both the race to win the World Cup final, and the race for the title. Gee Atherton and Greg Minnaar were separated by a mere four points, so it all came down to whomever finished in front - no matter where they finished in the race.
Junior rider Troy Brosnan (Monster Energy/Specialized/Mad Catz) set the first sub-2:36 time, and ended up winning the Junior title. His time was slowly eaten away at, until his team mate Sam Hill, returning from injury, dropping the top time below 2:35. Hill was in turn bumped by a third team mate, Brendan Fairclough. Fairclough took the leading time down to 2:33.49 with 20 riders remaining.
Nine riders later Brook MacDonald took the lead, but didn't even have time to climb into the Hot Seat before the next rider down, Nick Beer (Scott 11) knocked nearly two seconds off the lead. There were ten riders left, but Beer was untouchable until Atherton came in over three seconds faster.
Next up was Minnaar. The South African was seven tenths slower through the two intermediate splits, but picked it up in the lower section to finish 37 hundredths of a second behind Atherton. After a season of racing, the World Cup had been won by less than half a second.
There were still three riders to finish for the event victory. Sam Blenkinsop (Lapierre International) slotted in third behind Minnaar, and Aaron Gwin (Yeti Fox Shox) was just behind Blenkinsop. The only rider left was Steve Peat (Santa Cruz Syndicate), the world champion, and the fastest qualifier. Peat was fast, and getting faster as he came down the course - 1.41 seconds ahead at the second split. It looked like Atherton would have to settle for the overall title, until Peat inexplicably crashed less than 500 metres from the finish line.
"As you can imagine I feel at the top of the world," stated Atherton. "It's a great way to end the season. I'm stoked I've won it but Steve was up on me and he crashed ... but that is just racing, I guess."
"I feel ready for the Worlds. This was a good race to lead into it. It has been a tough track to race on all week, so you know everyone's going to be definitely raring to go for next weekend."
Atherton took the title with 1229 points to Minnaar's 1185, with Blenkinsop third at 864 points.
- Canada's Steve Smith (MS Evil Racing) had another strong performance, finishing seventh on the day and moving up to tenth in the final World Cup standings. Claire Buchar (Chain Reaction/Intense) did not fare so well. Racing with a suspected broken wrist (from a crash in training on Friday), she finished seventh for the day and dropped from sixth to seventh in the final standings.
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