Posted by Editoress on 05/31/08
MTB World Cup
Coverage brought to you with the assistance of Velirium
Julien Absalon (Orbea) can be beaten. After three rounds of the World Cup, when the world champion looked untouchable, he faltered on Saturday in the high altitude conditions in Andorra, while Christoph Sauser gave Specialized their first World Cup victory of the season. The race saw one of the closest finishes in recent memory, as Sauser crossed the line a slim eight seconds in front of the phenomenal young South African Burry Stander (GT), with Canada's Geoff Kabush (Maxxis) only 17 seconds back. American Todd Wells (GT) continues to go from strength to strength, recording his best ever World Cup result with sixth place.
After the rain from the first half of the women's race, the course was slowly drying by the time the men started their seven lap race - reduced by one lap due to the conditions. U23 World Cup leader Nino Schurter (Swisspower) set a fast pace up the first climb, and by the halfway mark in the first lap there were three Swiss riders off the front - Schurter, Sauser and Florian Vogel (Swisspower).
Vogel and Schurter couldn't maintain the pace of Sauser, and dropped back to the chase group that was forming behind, with Burry, Wells, Absalon, Italian Marco Fontana, Lukas Fluckiger (Athleticum), Tony Longo (Full Dynamix), Cedric Ravanel (Lapierre), Sergio Gutierrez (Cemelorca) and Jakob Fuglsang (Cannondale-Vredestein). Missing from the group were Jean-Christophe Peraud (Orbea) and Jose Hermida (Multivan-Merida). Peraud suffered a broken chain on the first lap, and Hermida was struggling with the altitude. Both eventually abandoned.
Also missing were Kabush, fellow Canadian Seamus McGrath (Fuji) and Adam Craig (Giant). Kabush and Craig steadily made their way up to the chase group, but McGrath had crashed hard on the first descent, breaking a buckle on his shoe and falling to last place, and eventually abandoning.
While Craig moved up quickly, getting into the top-8 by lap three, Kabush took a slower pace to the front. This proved to be the wiser move, as Craig faded in the final two laps, after almost catching the top five, and eventually finishing 16th.
"I had a bit of a slower start," explained Kabush "but I didn't go as far back as usual, only falling to 16th, so I knew I was on a good pace. I may have actually ridden it a bit too conservative, and could have possibly done even better at the end."
At the front, Sauser was untouchable; 45 seconds clear by the third lap. The chase was disintegrating into small clumps, with Stander and Fontana dropping the rest, followed by Fluckiger and Wells. By the fifth lap it was Stander on his own, after Fontana suffered a flat. Longo had moved up to join Wells, and Kabush was surging, just behind Wells.
"I had a real flat period in the fifth lap, which is when Geoff caught me," said Wells afterwards. "I tried to just limit my losses, and then I was able to recover a bit for the final laps. But that's how I have to race, put it all out there and try to hang on."
Meanwhile, Sauser seemed to be slowing, and Stander was catching him; only 15 seconds back early in the sixth lap, with Fluckiger at 90 seconds and Kabush just about to move past him into third. Was Sauser flagging?
"I backed off a bit, and kept it at around 15 or 20 seconds," explained Sauser "which made Burry chase harder and use more energy."
That may have been the strategy, but it backfired when Sauser flatted shortly before the tech zone. Stander went by him and, for the first time, a South African was leading a cross-country World Cup.
At the start of the final lap, the race for the win was very tight - Stander led Sauser by 15 seconds, with Kabush only 20 seconds behind the Swiss rider. Could the 20 year old hold off the more experienced Sauser and Kabush for an upset?
Unfortunately, not this time, but it was a lot closer than Sauser would have preferred.
"That was hard, very hard" said Sauser afterwards. "I was quite sure that I could catch him, but it was pretty close and I didn't get to the front until the last 1500 metres."
- Living at altitude definitely seemed to help, with a race that peaked at 2000 metres. Sauser lives at 900 metres, Kabush at 1800 and Todd Wells "higher than this, it wasn't a factor at all for me." But then there is Stander who lives at sea level...
- Kabush, despite the disappointment of not finishing even higher, is well pleased with his form. "This is where I want to be. There is Fort William (Scotland, World Cup #5) next week, then some time to prepare for the Worlds. So I think I can improve some more."
- Wells, who had his first top-10 World Cup result, was ecstatic with his season. "This is my best result of my career. I don't know ... I just keep waiting for a race where I will suck, and it isn't happening."
- Absalon still leads the World Cup, with 840 points to Sauser's 695. Sauser could take the lead next weekend, since Absalon will not be racing. Even if he does, it will be a temporary lead, since the Swiss rider will not attend the two Canadian rounds (Mont Ste Anne and Bromont) in late July. So this opens the opportunity for North Americans like Kabush or Wells to move to the front, depending upon who else skips the Canadian rounds. In the U23 race, Schurter's lead has dropped to 17 points over Stander, so we may be about to see the first South African World Cup leader after Fort William.
|Men 35.7 km|
|1 Christoph Sauser (Sui) Specialized Factory Racing||2:02:16|
|2 Burry Stander * (RSA) GT Bicycles / Mongoose Bicycles||at 0:09|
|3 Geoff Kabush (Can) Team Maxxis||0:18|
|4 Lukas Fluckiger (Sui) Athleticum-Mtb-Team||1:09|
|5 Cedric Ravanel (Fra) Team Lapierre International||1:42|
|6 Todd Wells (USA) GT Bicycles / Mongoose Bicycles||2:17|
|7 Tony Longo (Ita) Full-Dynamix-It||2:28|
|8 Sergio Mantecon Gutierrez (Esp) Cemelorca-Seguros10.com||2:52|
|9 Inaki Lejarreta Errasti (Esp) Orbea||3:02|
|10 Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Full-Dynamix-It||3:13|
|11 Julien Absalon (Fra) Orbea||3:48|
|12 Roel Paulissen (Bel) Cannondale-Vredestein||3:58|
|13 Kashi Leuchs (NZl) Cannondale-Vredestein||4:16|
|14 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Cannondale-Vredestein||4:24|
|15 Nino Schurter * (Sui) Swisspower Mtb Team||4:34|
|16 Adam Craig (USA) Giant Mountain Bike Team||4:37|
|17 Florian Vogel (Sui) Swisspower Mtb Team||4:46|
|18 Ralph Naef (Sui) Multivan Merida Biking Team||5:01|
|19 Thomas Frischknecht (Sui) Swisspower Mtb Team||5:12|
|20 Emil Lindgren (Swe) Full-Dynamix-It||5:20|
|21 Ruben Ruzafa Cueto (Esp) Orbea||5:30|
|22 Marti Gispert Labarta (Esp) ECP-Tau Ceramica||5:43|
|23 Moritz Milatz (Ger) Multivan Merida Biking Team||6:04|
|24 Christoph Soukup (Aut) Fuji||6:26|
|25 Milan Spesny (Cze) Merida Biking Team||6:26|
|26 Matthias Fluckiger * (Sui) Athleticum-Mtb-Team||6:53|
|27 Jurg Graf (Sui) Swisspower Mtb Team||7:18|
|28 Yader Zoli (Ita) Giant Italia Team||7:18|
|29 Andreas Kugler (Sui) Fischer-BMC||7:33|
|30 Hannes Metzler (Aut) Giant Mountain Bike Team||7:41|
|31 Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (USA) Subaru-Gary Fisher||7:53|
|32 Kristian Hynek (Cze)||8:12|
|33 Martin Gujan (Sui) Athleticum-Mtb-Team||8:37|
|34 Ivan Alvarez Gutierrez (Esp) Giant Italia Team||8:48|
|35 Karl Platt (Ger) Team Bulls||8:59|
|36 Gion Manetsch (Sui) Athleticum-Mtb-Team||9:47|
|37 Manuel Fumic (Ger) Fumic.Brothers.International||9:49|
|38 Jochen Kass (Ger) Team Alb-Gold Mountainbike||9:54|
|39 Bas Peters (Ned)||9:59|
|40 Samuel Schultz (USA) Subaru-Gary Fisher||10:10|
|41 Jeremiah Bishop (USA) Trek-VW||10:31|
|42 Dario Alejandro Gasco * (Arg) Massi||10:37|
|43 Marco Aurelio Fontana (Ita) Hard Rock Frw||10:46|
|44 Nicola Rohrbach * (Sui) Central Ghost Pro Team||10:58|
|45 Bart Brentjens (Ned) Dolphin-Trek Mountainbike Racing Team||11:11|
|46 Andras Parti (Hun)||11:30|
|47 Maxime Marotte * (Fra) BH-SR. Suntour||11:41|
|48 Martin Fanger * (Sui)||11:50|
|49 Jiri Friedl (Cze) Merida Biking Team||12:01|
|50 Marc Colom * (Fra)||12:23|
|51 Klaus Nielsen (Den) Team Alb-Gold Mountainbike||12:40|
|52 Chris Jongewaard (Aus) Dolphin-Trek Mountainbike Racing Team||12:50|
|53 Stephane Tempier * (Fra) Gewiss Bianchi||12:58|
|54 Paul Van Der Ploeg * (Aus)||13:05|
|55 Pierre Geoffroy Plantet (Fra) Team Lapierre International||13:10|
|56 Andrea Tiberi (Ita) Giant Italia Team||13:21|
|57 Lado Fumic (Ger) Fumic.Brothers.International||13:53|
|58 Michael Broderick (USA)||14:11|
|59 Jonathan Galante (Fra)||14:27|
|60 Israel Nunez Baticon (Esp) Massi||14:58|
|61 Javier Eduardo Puschel (Chi)||15:15|
|62 Guillaume Vinit * (Fra) Scott Valloire Galibier||15:39|
|63 Fabien Canal * (Fra) Team Lapierre International||-1Lap|
|64 Nicolas Vermeulen (Bel) Lingier-Versluys Team||-1Lap|
|65 Oriol Morata Abril (Esp)||-1Lap|
|66 Alexis Chenevier * (Fra)||-1Lap|
|67 FranÃƒÂ§ois Bailly Maitre (Fra) Scott Valloire Galibier||-1Lap|
|68 Sid Taberlay (Aus)||-1Lap|
|69 Marco Minnaard * (Ned) Beone Chainreaction Mountainbiketeam||-1Lap|
|70 Vivien Legastelois * (Fra) Team Lapierre International||-1Lap|
|71 Robert Gehbauer * (Aut) Multivan Merida Biking Team||-1Lap|
|72 Josef Kamler * (Cze) Ceska Sporitelna MTB||-1Lap|
|73 Lachlan Norris * (Aus)||-2Laps|
|74 Mathieu Toulouse (Can) Team Maxxis||-2Laps|
|75 Anders Hovdenes * (Nor) Team Etto Hoydahl||-2Laps|
|76 Alejandro Diaz De La Pena Lopez (Esp)||-2Laps|
|77 Lee Williams (GBr)||-2Laps|
|78 Jeremy Mounier (Fra)||-2Laps|
|79 Marc Trayter Alemany (Esp) ECP-Tau Ceramica||-2Laps|
|80 Giuseppe Lamastra (Ita)||-2Laps|
|81 Carlos Coloma Nicolas (Esp) ECP-Tau Ceramica||-2Laps|
|82 Ji Jianhua (Chn)||-2Laps|
|83 Sebastien Le Naour (Fra) Breiz Mountain||-2Laps|
|84 Matous Ulman (Cze)||-2Laps|
|85 Christof Bischof (Sui)||-2Laps|
|86 Tim Bohme (Ger) Team Alb-Gold Mountainbike||-3Laps|
|87 Kohei Yamamoto (Jpn)||-3Laps|
|88 Freddy Betremieux * (Fra) BH-SR. Suntour||-3Laps|
|89 Paul Gaillard * (Fra)||-3Laps|
|90 Ian Field * (GBr)||-3Laps|
|91 Hugo Navarian * (Fra) Team Cibf Keops||-3Laps|
|92 Luka Kodra * (Slo)||-3Laps|
|93 Ludovic Mottet (Bel) Windose Houffalize||-3Laps|
|94 Jo Thorson Nordskar * (Nor) Team Etto Hoydahl||-3Laps|
|95 Chun Hing Chan (Hkg)||-3Laps|
|96 Alexandre Geniez * (Fra)||-3Laps|
|97 BenoÃƒÂ®t Thyreault (Fra) Team Cibf Keops||-4Laps|
|98 Joel Martinez Fernandez * (And)||-4Laps|
|99 Ricardo Hazbun Velasquez * (Chi)||-4Laps|
|100 Pierre Fuseau (Fra) Team Cibf Keops||-4Laps|
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