May 10/09 11:38 am - UCI DH World Cup #2 Story and photos
Posted by Editor on 05/10/09
Steve Peat (Santa Cruz Syndicate) once again pulled off an incredible ride to record his 16th career victory in the Nissan UCI Mountain Bike World Cup at the second round in La Bresse, France, matching the all time record of French rider Nicolas Vouilloz. Peat also took over the lead in the World Cup standings with his win. Sabrina Jonnier (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) gave the crowd a French win in the women's category, as she decisively beat World Cup leader Tracy Moseley (Trek World Racing) by over five seconds.
Canada's Steve Smith (Evil Bikes), after qualifying 13th, finished a strong 15th in the men's race, while Micayla Gatto was 19th (went off course) and Danice Uyesugi did not finish after crashing in the women's race.
The short course required the skills of an all around rider to perform well, with fast pedaling and jumping sections at the top, followed by steep, technical and rocky sections in the lower half. Many a rider started out fast, only to lose precious seconds in the final third of the 1.2 kilometre course.
American Melissa Buhl set the first sub 2:40 time for the women at 2:38.54, and the fastest time through the speed trap of 56.89 kph. However, she was quickly overtaken by Fionn Griffiths (Norco World Team). Three riders later it was the veteran French rider Céline Gros taking another six-tenths of a second off the leading time.
Gros barely had time to realize she was in the lead before her compatriot Myriam Nicole obliterated her time by nearly three seconds. Former Junior world champion Emmeline Ragot (Suspension Center) and Japan's Mio Suemasa both came within a second of Nicole, but the young Frenchwoman was still in the lead with two riders to go - Jonnier and Moseley, who had qualified first and would ride last.
Jonnier was perfect through her ride, setting the fastest splits at both the first and second intermediate stations, recording the only sub-2:30 time of the day in the women's race, at 2:28.57 . Moseley, who had been unbeaten in competition this year up until this point managed to knock Nicole down to third, but was clearly not at the same level as her rival Jonnier today.
"I'm super happy to give Maxxis-Rocky Mountain it's first World Cup win," said Jonnier. "I dedicated my race to my mum, who's dad just passed away. Thanks to Maxxis, Rocky and the team for all their support. Even though Tracy won the qualifying, I was still very confident, and very happy to win in France. It was a very important win for because it is my first win in a year, and I wanted to show that I am still one of the best Downhillers."
The men's race had a potential upset in the making, when heavy rain swept in shortly after American Kyle Strait (Specialized Team America) grabbed the Hot Seat. Strait was 29th to start, and the track had been dry and hard until that point. Favoured Chris Kovarik (Chain Reaction/Intense) crashed shortly afterwards, showing how slippery it was getting.
Strait's time of 2:12.33 held up for over 30 riders before Justin Leov (Trek World Racing) finally managed to displace him by a mere five one hundredths of a second. Leov also settled in for an extended sit in the Hot Seat, remaining in the top spot until the final ten riders began their runs. Strait would finish 11th, just behind Leov.
Leov's team mate Andrew Neethling was the first to better Leov, dropping the leading time to below 2:12 (2:11.98). However, he was replaced immediately by Mikael Pascal (MSC Bikes). World Cup leader Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) was next to take the lead, but again it was a short lived reward, as Great Britain's Brendan Fairclough (Monster Energy-Specialized) became the first rider to go under 2:10, with a 2:09.99 run.
Fairclough hung onto the lead through Sam Blenkinsop (Yeti Fox Shox) before his team mate, and perennial favourite, Sam Hill knocked an impressive second and a half off the leading time. There were only three riders to go, and the rain continued to fall.
Michael 'Mick' Hannah (GT Bicycles) was next, and he slotted in between Hill and Fairclough, and then it was world champion Gee Atherton (Animal-Commencal), who came in behind Fairclough and ahead of Minnaar, guaranteeing himself a podium spot.
Finally, it was 'Peaty', the legendary rider from Sheffield, Yorkshire. Only 17th fastest through the speedtrap, Peat kept getting faster as the course got harder. By the first intermediate timer he was up to second, by the second intermediate station he was more than a second in front, and at the finish line he was a full 1.27 seconds ahead of Hill to record his 16th World Cup win.
"I'm very happy to win after such a long time, and happy to break Vouilloz's record" commented Peat afterwards, referring to the fact that this is his first World Cup victory since Willingen, Germany in 2006. "It's good to keep the jersey in the team," he added.
Heading into the third Downhill round of the Nissan UCI Mountain Bike World Cup next week in Vallnord, Andorra, Peat holds a 25 point lead over Hannah at 415 points, with Minnaar 62 points back in third. In the women's standings, it is Moseley still in front with 460 points, but Jonnier has moved into second, 68 points back, followed by Ragot, a distant 125 points in arrears. Claire Buchar (Chain Reaction/Intense) drops from fifth to ninth in the women's standings after not racing round two due to illness, while Gatto is 26th. Steve Smith is 16th in the men's standings, with 139 points.