Posted by Editoress on 06/23/07
Mont-Ste-Anne World Cup
Coverage sponsored by Maxxis, and Vélirium
by Mike Badyk and Rob Jones
After riding at the head of the field with 3 other women for the entire race, Irina Kalentyeva (Topeak Ergon) left them behind on the final lap to take her second win of the season by 10 seconds over Ren Chengyuan (China). Recovering after a nasty crash on the second lap, perrenial home town favourite, and two-time defending champion, Marie-Helene Premont (Rocky Mountain-Haywood) fought back to capture fourth place behind Sabine Spitz (Ghost International), and ahead of World Cup leader Marga Fullana (Spiuk-Tau Ceramica).
After much discussion and debate regarding riders being relegated to the back of the field due to late registration (see yesterday's Preview) no protest of any sort materialized from the women's field. Instead, the start was marred by a bad crash literally under the start banner. Katerina Nash (Luna) went down and Kiara Bisaro (Opus) went down hard over her. Bisaro's crash was hard enough to break her helmet, and afterwards she revealed that she had bruises and chainring marks all over her back. Nash and Bisaro were at the back of the field through the start loops. Both fought back valiantly into the top 30, but the effects of the crash were evident, causing them both to eventually finish well outside of their usual top-15 spots, in 37th for Nash and 39th for Bisaro.
Meanwhile, the cream of the field rode to the front on the first major climb of the course. Georgia Gould (Luna) led Fullana , Spitz, Premont, Kalentyeva and Ying Liu (China) with Ren just behind her. The rest of the field was simply shredded by this aggressive pace.
This group remained intact through the end of the first lap. Once again, the big first climb proved important, as Gould and Liu were dropped from the lead group. With her usual horde of family and friends at the finish, Premont was expected in the lead group, but came through back in 8th place 45 seconds behind the leaders. Premont described her crash after the race, while icing her shoulder, "I crashed on the second lap. I was with all the girls at the front and I was behind the Chinese rider (Ying) and tried to pass her and I did a mistake. I went over my bike and landed on my head and shoulder. I tried to go on my bike right away but I was shaken. I wasn't seeing anything wrong but I really had to focus to get going again. I tried to catch the other girls but I was really missing one good lap from the race with my crash."
Kalentyeva was sitting comfortably in the lead group of 4 through the end of the third and fourth laps. Fullana was still there along with Ren and Spitz. 30 seconds back from the lead group were Ying and Gould, with Willow Koerber (Subaru-Gary Fisher) a further 30 seconds back on her own. Premont was working her way back towards the front, and was only 10 seconds back from Koerber through the end of Lap 3, and then sitting sixth at the end of Lap 4, as the race entered the final lap. Koerber and Gould were fading, so Premont picked them off and focussed on the podium.
With the leaders still so close together, the decisive move was going to be made on the final lap. The aggressor was Kalentyeva. Her attack on the Zig-Zag climb (between the 1 and 2 kilometre marks of the 5 kilometre course) proved to be successful. "It was a very fast race. It was hard for me. It was on the steep uphill that I attacked and I felt really good on the downhill after that. It was at that point that I felt I could win the race. I was still worried about Marie-Helene and Margarita even after I took the lead. It was my day today. I won the race and I'm happy!"
Ren held on for second place, 10 seconds back from Kalentyeva. Through her interpreter Ren was clearly pleased. "I was happy to place well here. It was a difficult race to judge. I managed to have some energy left on the last lap and I got past the other riders."
Riding very strongly through the race, and always near the front, was Spitz. She finished third, 24 seconds back from Kalentyeva. She was somewhat disappointed with her placing. "Everything was going well for me into the final lap. It was a bit of a tactical game between us 4. Sometimes the speed slowed down a bit and everyone was checking everyone else out. I felt pretty good during the race. Kalentyeva attacked at the top of the Zig-Zag climb and right at that moment I was shifting and I couldn't get all the power into my pedals. She opened a little bit of a gap and my tactic was to stay at the front of the group through the technical stuff, through the single track, to control the speed from the front. But ultimately that tactic didn't work. However, we had worked together well up to the final lap. Everyone took a turn in the lead. Finally it came down to the last lap and everyone was looking for the right moment. Irina was the one who found it."
Premont came in 46 seconds back to enormous applause from the highly partisan crowd. "Because of the fall I was just trying to ride at my own pace. I started to feel better every lap. I knew it was going to be a fast race so I tried to go faster the last 2 laps."
Also having very good races were Lene Byberg (Specialized), in 10th, and Canadian Catherine Pendrel (Norco), both of whom started near the back of the pack after the late registration fiasco. Byberg is showing good form after having recently been diagnosed with low iron, andPendrel was ripping the downhills all race long and moved up to a fine 11th place finish.
Other Canadian finishers in the top 30 were Mical Dyck (25th) and Sandra Walter (26th). Walter started the race after having been hit by a car while warming up. Sandra went over the hood of the car and landed on her helmet (that cracked). She rode with a new helmet, but was told post race that she had a concussion.
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