June 30/02 5:01 am - Men's XC Story
Posted by Editor on 06/30/02
Mont Ste Anne World Cup #3 - Men's Cross-country
by Mike Badyk
The sun came out and the war of attrition started. Racers dropped in droves as the heat and dust claimed many. It even became a strategy for some racers to simply outlast the others. The racers only gained some relief in the finish area where the wind could cool them a bit. Only the tough made it through.
The toughest today was Filip Meirhaeghe (Specialized). He rode a magnificent race finishing with a 2 minute and 13 second gap over Christophe Dupouey (Giant Global) in second. Merihaeghe was jubilant. "Already in the first lap I felt that I was strong, but so were Dupouey and Sauser. Sauser flatted, and then Dupouey was dropped, which surprised me because he was so strong. The technical nature was to my advantage on this course, but I was also climbing well on the two climbs, I thought. Last year I struggled the whole season after the Olympics and so this year I trained a lot more in the winter and it is showing. This is one of my favourite courses. In '98 I finished 3rd at the Worlds here." Unofficially it looks like he will move into the World Cup lead.
Dupouey was very pleased with his result. "I felt very good today. It has been more than a year since I've felt this good. This is my best result since St. Wendel over a year ago. I made a tactical mistake in not following Meirhaeghe more closely, but I was afraid that I was going to blow up so I rode a very secure race. It was very hot and dusty so it was hard to keep a rhythm for the whole race."
Third place went to Lado Fumic (Team T Mobile). "It was a difficult race. I didn't have enough power at the end. My fingers were very sore. It was so technical and rough. I made one mistake in the race. Roland was ahead of me and I saw him go slightly off the course. I thought something was wrong and the route had changed. Then I realized that he had mechanical and had just moved off the course to fix it."
In 5th place and the final podium spot was Victoria's Ryder Hesjedal (Subaru-Gary Fisher). "I just missed the group at the front. When they went into the woods I was in a bad position. After that I just had to stay steady and play catch up. I started picking up guys and then I came up (to the front) with Roel (Paulissen) to Bart (Brentjens) and Seamus (McGrath). I kept my pace steady and shot through them up to (Julien) Absalon. I was riding strong but he had more gas in the tank and he attacked on the last climb of the last lap. After that I just protected my podium spot."
Roland Green had a difficult time with a number of mechanical problems on his bike. "On the second lap my brakes came loose. Then on the third lap I flatted, but I had a quick change (under 2 minutes). I was a little flat today with the heat but I started to come around in the last lap. At the finish it was a dogfight for my 6th place. I attacked a few times in the last lap, short poppers to get a gap, and it was on one of those that I managed to hold to the finish." He also admitted that he didn't get enough practice time on the course. "I had one and a half laps of practice and it wasn't enough. Its a trade off between staying at home and training versus coming to the course early."
Seamus McGrath had bike problems as well. "My chain got stuck between the cogs on the third lap and I had to stop for a minute and take the wheel out. It threw me off my game a bit and I think I would have had a chance for the podium otherwise."
Another Canadian with a good ride was Mathieu Toulouse in 18th place. "It was a hard race. I was feeling very good and I tried to keep myself as cool as possible. I would drink whenever I could and I was always pouring cups of water over my head and back. I had a slow start but I kept an even pace after that. Later in the race I picked off a number of riders who blew up, probably increasing my placing by at least 3 in the last lap alone."