September 10/06 11:35 am - MTB DH/4X World Cup Final Story
Posted by Editor on 09/10/06
Mountain Bike World Cup Final - Schladming, Austria
by Erhard Goller with Rob Jones
The final 4-Cross of the season saw new faces on the top of the podium, as women's series leader and world champion Jill Kintner had to watch from the sidelines after suffering a shoulder injury, and Michal Prokop, the men's series leader and world champion, finished fourth in his final.
Roger Rinderknecht, second at the Worlds and Guido Tschugg, third at the Worlds, left the competition in the first round, allowing first time finalist Kamil Tatarkovic the opportunity to take his first World Cup win ahead of a nice crowd in a dry summer evening. He beat Jost Wichmanns and another big surprise - local Austrian Rudiger Jahnel.
"I'm super happy that I did my first World Cup win here in Schladming, near to Czech Republic, with a lot of fans from home" commented Taterkovic. "I cannot express my feelings yet. The main thing was the good qualification. I had always the best lane."
The last turn decided the women's 4-cross, with Kintner spectating. Tara Llanes and Anneke Beerten were in front, but Fionn Griffiths took the aggressive line before the last jumps. Both Llanes and Katrina Miller were in the last race of their long and decorated careers.
"It was just amazing" admitted Griffiths. "I lost the start, but at the last turn I could pass. It was just gambling and it paid off."
Sabrina Jonnier followed up her world title in Rotorua, New Zealand two weeks ago with a win in the World Cup Final. Jonnier finished only 0.41 seconds ahead of countrymate Emilie Ragot. Riders were commenting that the most difficult sections, where time could be gained or lost, were the rooty sections, some of which were very steep. The women had an additional obstacle: before the race organizers put water in the course, for some girls that was a surprise. Tracy Moseley finished third, but still took the World Cup title, followed by Jonnier and Rachel Atherton. Two Canadians raced - Clair Buchar finished 14th (13th in the overall standings) and Katrina Strand 18th (22nd overall).
"After the worlds I felt tired" admitted Jonnier. "But this was the last race and I put everything in it I could. I'm really happy to win after finishing second in 2004 and third in 2005. I have always felt that I could win this race. It's a hard track, that asks a lot of your body."
In the immortal words of somebody or other: 'it was deja vu all over again'. The men's downhill put the same top three riders on the podium as the world championships. World champion (and defending champion in Schladming) Sam Hill took the win, with an impressive run which took 5.51 seconds out of Nathan Rennie, who was a scant 0.04 seconds ahead of Greg Minnaar (who beat Rennie for silver in Rotorua). Steve Peat took the World Cup, despite finishing 13th in the Final. Peat had a scant 38 point lead over Hill, with Minnaar finishing third.
"I wanted to do a good race to get a lot of points." explained Hill. "It was my first race in the rainbow jersey and I enjoyed it. For Iron Horse it's perfect today. It's probably one of the best tracks we race on. I wish all the tracks would be like this."