May 19/02 8:08 am - Madrid Women's XC Story
Posted by Editor on 05/19/02
World Cup MTB #1 - Women's Race
This report made possible through the sponsorship of FACT Canada & Schwalbe Tires
Marg Fullana (Orbea) took a very popular win in front of her home crowd, successfully holding off a last lap challenge by world champion Alison Dunlap (Luna). Alison Sydor (Trek-VW) was the top Canadian, finishing 5th.
Fullana was an unknown quantity, not having raced against other contenders this spring, but she is always tough, and she threw down the gauntlet early, attacking in the start loop.
"I wanted to attack at the beginning, and go as hard as I could. I knew it would be a difficult race, so I wanted to create a gap and make the others chase."
Alison Sydor and Gunn-Rita Dahle (Merida) were the first to answer the call, and by the end of the first lap were 30 seconds down on Fullana and 15 seconds ahead of a group of chasers that included Dunlap, Sabine Spitz (Merida) and Caroline Alexander (Great Britain).
"I felt really good in the first lap, and I was happy to have Gunn-Rita with me chasing." said Sydor "After last season, when I lost so much confidence, I was just happy to be back, and to know that I can be at the front."
Sydor and Dahle were joined on the third lap by Dunlap, Spitz, Alexander and Irina Kalentieva (Merida) and the train began to pull back Fullana, who was now a minute up. On a steep climb towards the end of the third lap, Dunlap attacked, and set off in pursuit, followed by Spitz and Alexander, and then Sydor on her own.
"I had seen on the climb that it was a good place to attack", explained Dunlap, "when I saw I had a gap I really pushed it. I heard that the gap went down as low as 20 seconds, but then Marga picked it up. I always try for the win, but she is so strong, and racing in her home country. I think we were all just racing for second."
Sydor tried to chase up to Dunlap, but "I wasn't fast enough to get up. Caroline was the first to react, and then Sabine. I just rode my own race."
Spitz would drop Alexander in the final lap, and begin to make up time on Dunlap. The German has been impressive all spring andhad the bad luck to be "at the back of the group when Alison attacked. I could not get by the others right away, but once I did I was riding well. Maybe with a half a lap more I could have caught Alison."
Other Canadians did not fare so well. Chrissy Redden (Subaru-Gary Fisher), after a strong start, that saw her in fifth by the end of the start loop would gradually fall back to 20th, passsing one rider in the final lap to finish 19th.
"It was definitely not the race I wanted. It was super aggressive at the beginning. I got knocked off a couple of wheels as we entered the single track, and came out in 10th. Then there were a couple of problems on the climbs, some girl's pedal caught in my spoke, stuff like that, and before I knew it I was back in 20th. I guess I've got some work to do."
Marie-Helene Premont (Oryx) started slow, but came on stronger through the race, eventually catching and passing Kiara Bisaro (Gears Racing) to finish 29th, with Bisaro falling to 39th. TrisH Sinclair (Gears Racing), still bearing the scars of her crash at Big Bear last week, started well back on the grid, and could not move up, ending up 45th.
- All riders commented very favourably on the course, calling it one of the hardest and most fun they have done. Alison Dunlap pointed out that there were 11 climbs per lap, for a total of 55 climbs in the race. All said that having it the middle of the city was great idea.
- Fullana is expected to go to Houffalize, but not Canada for rounds 3 and 4. This puts Dunlap in good position to take over the lead after Mont Ste Anne if she continues to race well. "But first I want to wear my (rainbow jersey) for a while!" she said with a grin.
- This is Kiara Bisaro's first trip to Europe, and she looked a little overwhelmed before the race, and shellshocked afterwards. "That was probably the hardest race of my life! It's insane, it's so hard." She can hardly wait for next week...