Posted by Editoress on 09/9/07
MTB World Championships Fort William, Scotland
Coverage sponsored by Maxxis
France's Julien Absalon won his fourth world title on Saturday, breaking the 13 year old record of Dane Henk Djernis. As usual, he made it look almost effortless, finishing the six lap in front of two Swiss riders - Ralph Naf and Florian Vogel.
The action started on the first climb, with Florian Vogel attacking to open things up. "To attack is the best defence. Everyone was watching Julien, Christoph (Sauser - Switzerland) and Hermida (Spain), and they weren't watching me so I was able to open a gap. This let me go at my own speed and not have to fight for positions."
Behind, all the favourites were content to set a high tempo and wait for someone to make a move. Vogel was still in front by 10 seconds at the top of the climb on lap two, but a chase was beginning to get organized, led by Roel Paulissen (Belgium). Also in the group were Absalon, Hermida, Sauser, Frederic Kessiakoff (Sweden), Naf, Christoph Soukup (Austria), Cedric Ravanel (France), the brothers Fumic (Germany), Jean-Christophe Peraud (France) and Marek Galinsky (Poland). The top North Americans were sitting about 15 spots and a minute behind this group, led by Adam Craig (USA) and Geoff Kabush (Canada).
Along the flat section at the bottom of the climb Hermida, Absalon, Paulissen and Manuel Fumic had caught Vogel, and the five riders were 10 seconds ahead of Kessiakoff and Peraud. Ravanel was out with a mechanical; the first of a few for the top riders.
Kessiakoff jumped up to the leaders on the next climb and went straight by to take the lead, until he was caught at the end of the lap, for the start of lap four. Meanwhile, Hermida had to stop at the tech zone to deal with a cracked fork, while Sauser's right shoe ripped open and he had resort to duct tape to hold it together. Both riders fell back into the teens before climbing back among the leading chasers.
Hermida crashed (which is when he damaged his fork), and faded after chasing back up to fifth on the fourth lap, while Sauser had a long rearward chase to get as high as fifth on lap five before dropping one spot on the last lap.
At the front, Absalon made his move lap four, immediately opening a 30 second lead within a kilometre on the climb. By the bottom of the descent he was up to 45 seconds, and early in the fifth lap nearing a minute.
"My main goal this season was to keep this beautiful jersey," Absalon, explaining is ongoing motivation to win. "I made a special preparation for the world championships, with the national team coming here in April and video taped the circuit, and I trained all season with this in mind."
"On the beginning of the third lap I attacked on the downhill, and Hermida and Florian both crashed behind me, so I was able to get a 15 second gap right away."
The chase splintering under the effort, and this is when Naf decided to make his move. The Swiss rider put in the fastest ride of the lap to cut Absalon's lead to 38 seconds, with Vogel moving into third, a minute down on Absalon, and just ahead of Fumic. Fumic and Kessiakoff would battle for fourth through the last lap, with the Swede nipping the German after posting the fastest lap of the race in the final lap.
"I wanted to start fast and be at the front on the downhill," said Naf "but it was too fast for me. I lost contact in the first laps but I got back on, on the third lap and I knew that I had to make an attack. Everyone was hesitating in chasing Julien, so I went on the fifth lap to be in the front for the downhill."
The final finishing order was set, as Absalon cruised home to his fourth title, with Naf and Vogel adding two more medals to the impressive Swiss haul. Craig was the top North American finisher, in 22nd place, followed by Seamus McGrath in 31st.
"The goal is always to beat Julien," agreed Naf. "But he is the best. He is so steady and consistent that I am proud have been able to win silver."
- When told he had broken Djernis' record, Absalon commented "I am very happy and proud to get the record, but it was not my major motivation to win. I love this jersey. I was looking at it last night on my bed, and I knew that I wanted to keep it again."
- McGrath is coming off an up and down season - a silver medal in the spring at the Pan Am Championships, and then uneven fitness and sickness made his results sporadic. "I'm happy with the way I felt, even though I'm not super pleased with the result. I was riding as fast as I could - the pace was insane. I think that I rode the climb well, and I was able to move up, but I'm looking forward to this season being over. It's been a lot of ups and downs since the Pan Ams, and now I just want to get healthy and ready for next season."
- Norba series leader Geoff Kabush started strong, but eventually his arm injury caught up with him and he finished 50th. "I started on the front line and put myself in a good position. But after the first half lap I realized that I'd have to settle into my own rhythm; I just couldn't ride wih the top guys today. My arm was good enough to race, but I just felt blocked. I was well prepped, but last week it all came unravelled. It is so frustrating."
Kabush crashed at home on a training ride, gashing his right arm deeply. He wasn't able to train after that for most of the week, and then had a "trip from hell" getting to Fort William: his flight out of Toronto had to turn back after an onboard fire, so he spent a night at the airport. then the next day the flight was delayed and he had to detour along way around to Fort William after the road from Glasgow was closed overnight for construction - arriving at his hotel at 3:30 am two days before his race. To add insult to injury, his luggage (including his bike) were lost by the airline and only showed up shortly before the race.
|Elite Men - 51.4km|
|1. Julien Absalon (France)||2:17:06|
|2. Ralph Näf (Switzerland)||at 0:25|
|3. Florian Vogel (Switzerland)||0:54|
|4. Fredrik Kessiakoff (Sweden)||1:01|
|5. Manuel Fumic (Germany)||1:04|
|6. Christoph Sauser (Switzerland)||1:08|
|7. Jean-Christophe Peraud (France)||1:19|
|8. Roel Paulissen (Belgium)||2:03|
|9. Lukas Flückiger (Switzerland)||2:06|
|10. Josë Antonio Hermida Ramos (Spain)||2:09|
|11. Christoph Soukup (Austria)||3:10|
|12. Carlos Coloma Nicolas (Spain)||3:14|
|13. Ivan Alvarez Gutierrez (Spain)||3:24|
|14. Peter Riis Andersen (Denmark)||3:30|
|15. Milan Spesny (Czech Republic)||3:34|
|16. Sven Nys (Belgium)||3:36|
|17. Moritz Milatz (Germany)||3:45|
|18. Rudi Van Houts (Netherlands)||3:48|
|19. Lado Fumic (Germany)||4:03|
|20. Marek Galinski (Poland)||4:08|
|21. Ruben Ruzafa Cueto (Spain)||4:14|
|22. Adam Craig (United States Of America)||4:51|
|23. Jürg Graf (Switzerland)||5:07|
|24. Yury Trofimov (Russian Federation)||5:17|
|25. Filip Meirhaeghe (Belgium)||5:23|
|26. Marco Aurelio Fontana (Italy)||5:24|
|27. Jochen Kass (Germany)||5:24|
|28. Inaki Lejarreta Errasti (Spain)||6:12|
|29. Wolfram Kurschat (Germany)||6:23|
|30. Thomas Frischknecht (Switzerland)||6:42|
|31. Seamus McGrath (Canada)||6:42|
|32. Martin Gujan (Switzerland)||6:46|
|33. Jeremiah Bishop (United States Of America)||6:47|
|34. Stefan Sahm (Germany)||7:20|
|35. Oliver Beckingsale (Great Britain)||7:26|
|36. Bart Brentjens (Netherlands)||7:31|
|37. Karl Markt (Austria)||7:31|
|38. Tony Longo (Italy)||7:40|
|39. Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (United States Of America)||8:18|
|40. Bas Peters (Netherlands)||8:36|
|41. Hannes Metzler (Austria)||8:39|
|42. Ian Wilkinson (Great Britain)||8:43|
|43. Massimo De Bertolis (Italy)||8:51|
|44. Liam Killeen (Great Britain)||9:01|
|45. Hector Leonardo Paez Leon (Colombia)||9:16|
|46. Todd Wells (United States Of America)||9:25|
|47. Chris Jongewaard (Australia)||9:31|
|48. Mirko Pirazzoli (Italy)||9:45|
|49. Martino Fruet (Italy)||10:12|
|50. Geoff Kabush (Canada)||10:21|
|51. Igor Bogdan (Ukraine)||10:40|
|52. Jelmer Pietersma (Netherlands)||10:46|
|53. Johann Pallhuber (Italy)||10:58|
|54. Karl Platt (Germany)||11:21|
|55. Paul Oldham (Great Britain)||11:45|
|56. Kenji Takeya (Japan)||11:46|
|57. Miha Solar (Slovenia)||12:10|
|58. Sid Taberlay (Australia)||12:29|
|59. Yader Zoli (Italy)||12:39|
|60. Michael Broderick (United States Of America)||12:47|
|61. Nicholas Craig (Great Britain)||12:59|
|62. Ricky Federau (Canada)||13:13|
|63. Julio Humberto Caro Silva (Colombia)||13:33|
|64. Cristobal Silva (Chile)||13:47|
|65. Luciano Caraccioli (Argentina)||13:50|
|66. Marcus Roy (New Zealand)||14:04|
|67. Klaus Nielsen (Denmark)||15:03|
|68. Sergiy Rysenko (Ukraine)||15:43|
|69. Carl Decker (United States Of America)||16:54|
|70. Marc Bassingthwaighte (Namibia)||17:02|
|71. Filip Eberl (Czech Republic)||17:15|
|72. Taavi Selder (Estonia)||17:28|
|73. John Paul Pearton (South Africa)||17:38|
|74. Dylan Cooper (Australia)||17:43|
|75. Valeriano Rubens Donizeti (Brazil)||18:00|
|76. Bilal Akgul (Turkey)||18:08|
|77. Maxim Gogolev (Russian Federation)||18:20|
|78. Andras Parti (Hungary)||20:45|
|79. Keiichi Tsujiura (Japan)||21:21|
|80. Johan Van Zyl (South Africa)||21:27|
|81. Barry Wicks (United States Of America)||21:56|
|82. Eero Jappinen (Finland)||23:04|
|83. Alexey Medvedev (Russian Federation)||25:30|
|84. Lenart Noc (Slovenia)||-1Lap|
|85. John Jairo Botero Salazar (Colombia)||-1Lap|
|86. Stuart Houltham (New Zealand)||-1Lap|
|87. Martin Kraler (Austria)||-1Lap|
|88. Javier Puschel (Chile)||-1Lap|
|89. Caspar Austa (Estonia)||-1Lap|
|90. Michael Northcott (New Zealand)||-1Lap|
|91. Muammer Yildiz (Turkey)||-1Lap|
|92. David Leiman (South Africa)||-1Lap|
|93. Milan Barenyi (Slovakia)||-2Laps|
|94. Justice Makhale (South Africa)||-2Laps|
|95. Yilmaz Kanat (Turkey)||-2Laps|
|96. Dzintars Ozolins (Latvia)||-2Laps|
|97. Dror Pekatch (Israel)||-2Laps|
|98. Ivica Mesaric (Croatia)||-3Laps|
|99. Pavao Roset (Croatia)||-3Laps|
|DNF. Cëdric Ravanel (France)|
|DNF. Kashi Leuchs (New Zealand)|
|DNF. Robin Seymour (Ireland)|
|DNF. Marti Gispert Labarta (Spain)|
|DNF. Mannie Heymans (Namibia)|
|DNF. Kevin Evans (South Africa)|
|DNF. Marcin Karczynski (Poland)|
|DNF. Simon Richardson (Great Britain)|
|DNF. Eric Drower (New Zealand)|
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