Canadian Cyclist


September 16/07 10:03 am - MTB World Cup Final: XC report, photos & full results

Posted by Editoress on 09/16/07

World Cup Final Maribor, Slovenia

Men's XC
part one
part two

There were no surprises at the concluding round of the cross-country World Cup Finals on Saturday, with world champions Irina Kalentyeva (Topeak-Ergon) and Julien Absalon (Orbea) wrapping up the titles. Neither rider won their respective race, but they didn't need to: Absalon had already won outright after winning four of the previous five rounds, and Kalentyeva needed to finish only 13th or higher to take the women's award.

Held in Maribor, Slovenia for the first time, it was fitting that two first time winners took the top step of the podium. Lui Ying became only the second Chinese woman to win a World Cup, and Fredrik Kessiakoff (Cannondale-Vredestein) is the first Swede to win a World Cup.

Maribor is a new venue for the cross-country, but held a gravity World Cup for four years previously: 1999-2002. The DH World Cup was well attended in the past, attracting upwards of 25,000 spectators, and the weather was perfect - sunny and mid-20s Celcius.

The venue is to the south of Maribor, at the ski slopes of Pohorje, that face north towards the city in the valley. Maribor is in the north east corner of Slovenia next to Austria, and is the second largest urban centre in the country (after the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana). Originally an industrial centre, it is reinventing itself as an academic and cultural city.

The cross-country riders took on a circuit of just under five kilometres. Unlike the world championships last week - with groomed trails and one long climb/descent - the Pohorje course is highly technical, with lots of roots and tight, twisty turns. "This is real mountain biking" commented Absalon.

For the opening lap the riders were sent up a gravel fire road to spread them out - on the regular lap they dove into a rooty, singletrack climb for half of the main ascent, so there weren't many opportunities to pass. At the top, the riders immediately lost all the altitude they gained. The first part of the descent was technical and wooded, before moving out to open grassy slopes.

At the bottom the riders passed through the feed/tech zone and did a second short, sharp technical climb and descent, before making a slight uphill run to the finish line. The women did five laps, the men seven.


American Georgia Gould (Luna) led out on the opening climb, looking to get into the singletrack descent first. She was successful, with Sabine Spitz (Ghost), Premont and Kalentyeva right behind. Petra Henzi (Fischer-BMC), Rosara Joseph (New Zealand National) and Lui were chasing. Lui had been caught behind a crash at the start, and made an impressive surge up to the front group on the second lap; recording the fastest lap of the race in the process.

By the end of lap two the lead group was down to four - Premont, Kalentyeva, Spitz and Lui, with Gould dangling off the back. Premont took the lead on the first climb, but by the end of the lap it was Lui attacking, with the others unable to match her pace. This was an echo of the world championships a week earlier, when the Chinese rider also put in a massive attack, only to fade in the final lap and finish with the bronze medal.

This time, there was no fading, as she steadily extended her lead over Kalnetyeva and Spitz, with Premont riding the climb a little slower than the other two. However, this was just Premont conserving her energy, because on the fourth lap she went by Spitz, and then on the fifth surged again, passing Kalentyeva in the final half lap to take second.

"I wanted to save something for the last lap, because I knew that would be important," explained Premont. "I started to go harder on the first climb and then caught Irina before the second technical climb. After that I gave it everything in the final descent and the flat part to the finish."

Both Premont and Kalentyeva were collapsed over their handlebars for minutes after the race, while Lui still looked fresh enough for another lap. Her team mate Ren Chengyuan, who won the U23 title, also had a remarkable race; finishing fifth after a poor start which her back in the high teens on lap two.

Lui was slightly more animated with her win than the Chinese usually are, cracking a smile as she crossed the line (but no arms in the air, much to the chagrin of photographers). "The crash at the start made it hard for me, because there were too many riders to be able to pass quickly. Maybe I could have been better without the crash."

The question is: How much better than first do you need to be?

Gould hung on for sixth, just off the podium, with rookie World Cup sensation Catharine Pendrel (Norco) riding as high as sixth before fading slightly in the final lap to record tenth - her first ever top-ten finish.

In the women's final overall rankings, Premont took second behind Kalentyeva, followed by Ren, Spitz and Marga Fullana (Spiuk) - the latter absent in Maribor after receiving a 15 day suspension for high haematocrit at the world championships.


The men's race saw Cannondale-Vredestein take firm control of the race, with team mates Roel Paulissen, Jakob Fuglsang, Kessiakoff and Kashi Leuchs all at the front on the first descent. Joining them were Christoph Sauser (Specialized), Manuel Fumic (Fumic Brothers Racing), Jose Hermida (Multivan-Merida) and Geoff Kabush (Maxxis). Kabush was just coming off the effects of an arm injury two weeks earlier, and faded as the race went on, but the others proved to be the main race animators.

The one name missing was that of world champion and already World Cup champion Julien Absalon. Absalon admitted to having little motivation for the race and "I did it just for fun today. I had a really bad start, and it is hard to fight back when you have no goal in the race. In the middle I caught up to my team mate Inaki Lejarreta, who is fighting for a Spanish Olympic selection, so my goal became to work for him during the race."

Absalon patiently worked for Lejarreta all race, moving him up to 17th and then holding back at the line to let the Spaniard cross first.

Back at the front, the race was down to three riders by the start of lap two - Kessiakoff, Sauser and Hermida. The Swede attacked halfway up the climb, splitting the group, with Hermida immediately giving chase and Sauser deciding to play a waiting game.

"They were both too fast, and it was too early," commented Sauser. "I know Freddy blows when he goes out so hard, so I was waiting for weakness there. But this time he didn't. I caught Jose (lap five), but Freddy was out of reach."

Manuel Fumic also caught a tiring Hermida with a lap to go, to take third, with Paulissen rounding out the top-five. Adam Craig (Giant), after his patented slow start, moved up steadily through the field to finish 12th, the top North American result. "I finally got going halfway through the race; once it opened up I could pass, and catch riders on the tricky bits. I haven't been feeling super tip-top, so I'll take this result."

Kessiakoff was ecstatic with his win; riding much of the last lap with a grin on his face after the gap to Sauser went over a minute and his win seemed assured. "Finally! I've been waiting for this one for a long time. I just decided to give it everything; why hold back? It is the last important race of the season, so it was do or die for me."

Hermida took second in the final overall standings behind Absalon, with Sauser third, Paulissen fourth and Kessiakoff moving into fifth.

Race Notes

- Kalentyeva was happy to win the World Cup title, but the rainbow stripes she took last week "that means much more, because it was always my dream to win. But the World Cup is very tough to win, because you always have to be in the top-three. This year was quite different, with Gunn-Rita (Dahle-Flesjaa - Multivan-Merida) and Marga (Fullana) missing; I think next year will be more interesting!"

- While many of the top riders head off to Beijing for the test event next weekend, neither Kalentyeva or Premont will attend. For Kalentyeva it is because Russia is not ranked high enough to receive an invite ("it is finished for me this year, now I fly home to visit my parents"). For Premont it was by choice: "I am too busy with school (she is a graduate student in pharmaceutical studies) and it is a very long trip for two days. There is lots of time next year to see the course; I think I will go by myself maybe in March to see the course."

- Despite the team announcing that he would ride a full suspension bike in a World Cup for the first time, Julien Absalon ended up sticking to his usual hard tail. "I am more comfortable with it. Maybe this winter I will spend some time testing a full suspension bike."

- Catharine Pendrel was once again flirting with the podium, but had to settle for tenth - her first top-ten at a World Cup - and another result that puts her firmly in contention for the second Olympic spot (Premont has a lock on the first one). "I was going well on the first climb until another girl and I collided. Somehow it opened my rear quick release and I had to get off and fix it. So I didn't get into the woods where I wanted to. But today I wasn't as sharp in the technical stuff as I needed to be either. Once I got into that sixth to tenth group, we were all riding the climb about the same, so it wasn't possible to move up much. I'm kind of disappointed, because I really wanted it to be a podium race, be it wasn't to be today."

- Seamus McGrath (Rocky Mountain-Haywood) was the top Canadian man, finishing in a disappointing 36th place after riding as high as the low 20s. "I had bike problems early on. The front derailleur bolt was loose and it kept sliding into the crank, so I had to stop twice to fix that. Then I rode the last couple of laps in on a slow leak. I was feeling good, but mechanical problems put an end to that."

- Geoff Kabush started strong, but faded badly in the final laps to finish 45th, and looked very shaky after crossing the line. "I was surprised to be able to maintain my position on the start lap. I was riding within myself, and not struggling too much. But I don't have that base to draw on after the last couple of weeks." (He crashed badly a week before Worlds, gashing up his arm, and was unable to train for the week leading into the world championships)

"On the fifth lap it started to get painful, and the last lap ... I haven't bonked like that in years; I was happy just to make it to the finish."

1. Ying Liu * (Chn) China1:37:06
2. Marie-Helene Premont (Can) Rocky Mountain Haywoodat 0:43
3. Irina Kalentieva (Rus) Topeak0:52
4. Sabine Spitz (Ger) Ghost International Racing1:37
5. Ren Chengyuan * (Chn) China2:11
6. Georgia Gould (USA) Luna Womens MTB3:28
7. Petra Henzi (Sui) Fischer-BMC3:52
8. Rosara Joseph (NZl) New Zealand4:09
9. Elisabeth Osl * (Aut) Tonis Pro Team Kirchberg4:21
10. Catherine Pendrel (Can) Norco5:00
11. Lene Byberg (Nor) Specialized5:23
12. Jingjing Wang (Chn) China5:37
13. Katerina Nash (Cze) Luna Womens MTB Team5:43
14. Mary McConneloug (USA) Kenda Seven6:28
15. Willow Koerber (USA) Subaru-Gary Fisher6:56
16. Anna Szafraniec (Pol) Halls Professional Mtb7:06
17. Katrin Leumann (Sui)7:17
18. Magdalena Sadlecka (Pol) Halls Professional Mtb8:06
19. Kiara Bisaro (Can) Opus9:05
20. Sabrina Enaux (Fra) Team Lapierre International9:34
21. Anna Enocsson (Swe) Ghost International Racing9:41
22. Heather Irmiger (USA) Subaru-Gary Fisher9:48
23. Maroussia Rusca (Sui)9:51
24. Nina Homovec * (Slo)9:57
25. Tereza Hurikova * (Cze) Ceska Sporitelna Mtb10:11
26. Laura Turpijn (Ned)10:30
27. Bernardine Boog-Rauwerda (Ned)11:31
28. Nathalie Schneitter * (Sui)11:47
29. Janka Stevkova (Svk)11:59
30. Blaza Klemencic (Slo) Pintatim Full-Dynamix12:25
31. Cécile Rode Ravanel (Fra) Team Lapierre International12:46
32. Tanja Zakelj * (Slo)13:48
33. Ivonne Kraft (Ger)14:06
34. Arielle Van Meurs (Ned)14:12
35. Eva Lechner * (Ita)14:32
36. Sarah Koba (Sui)14:48
37. Katrin Schwing (Ger)15:32
38. Kelli Emmett (USA) Giant Mountain Bike Team16:01
39. Kaytee Boyd (NZl)16:12
40. Hanna Klein * (Ger)16:35
41. Wendy Simms (Can) Kona Les Gets17:28
42. Natalya Krompets * (Ukr)17:55
43. Liliya Zaytseua * (Ukr)18:00
44. Francisca Campos Salas * (Chi)18:07
45. Sandra Walter (Can)18:38
46. Jaqueline Mourao (Bra)19:42
47. Alexandra Engen * (Swe)20:11
48. Asa Maria Erlandsson (Swe) Subaru-Gary Fisher21:15
49. Maaris Meier (Est)21:45
50. Laurence Leboucher (Fra)22:55
51. Emma Colson (Aus)23:13
52. Darinka Bresar * (Slo)24:00
53. Tarja Owens (Irl)24:06
54. Sandra Dolcerocca (Den)25:16
55. Maddie Horton (GBr)2Laps
56. Marie Kunst (Den)2Laps
57. Ana Zupan * (Slo)2Laps
58. Theresa Richardson (USA)2Laps
DSQ. Julie Krasniak * (Fra) Team Lapierre International
DNF. Maria Osl (Aut) Tonis Pro Team Kirchberg
DNF. Evelyn Staffler (Ita)
DNF. Aleksandra Dawidowicz * (Pol) Halls Professional Mtb Team
DNF. Katherine O'Shea (Aus)
DNS. Daniela Bunzli (Chi)
DNS. Bettina Schmid * (Sui) Fischer-BMC
1. Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Cannondale-Vredestein1:53:44
2. Christoph Sauser (Sui) Specializedat 1:25
3. Manuel Fumic (Ger) Fumic.Brothers.International1:41
4. José Antonio Hermida Ramos (Esp) Multivan Merida Biking Team2:01
5. Roel Paulissen (Bel) Cannondale-Vredestein2:48
6. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Orbea3:22
7. Lado Fumic (Ger) Fumic.Brothers.International3:37
8. Jakob Fuglsang * (Den) Cannondale-Vredestein3:52
9. Kashi Leuchs (NZl) Cannondale-Vredestein4:38
10. Filip Meirhaeghe (Bel) Versluys-Landbouwkrediet4:45
11. Moritz Milatz (Ger) Multivan Merida Biking Team4:45
12. Adam Craig (USA) Giant Mountain Bike Team4:54
13. Carlos Coloma Nicolas (Esp) Spiuk-Tau Ceramica5:17
14. Cédric Ravanel (Fra) Team Lapierre International5:26
15. Christoph Soukup (Aut)5:57
16. Wolfram Kurschat (Ger)6:08
17. Inaki Lejarreta Errasti (Esp) Orbea6:33
18. Julien Absalon (Fra) Orbea6:34
19. Ralph Näf (Sui) Multivan Merida Biking Team7:04
20. Milan Spesny (Cze) Merida Biking Team7:24
21. Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (USA) Subaru-Gary Fisher7:27
22. Jürg Graf (Sui)7:34
23. Peter Riis Andersen (Den) Team Alb-Gold Mountainbike7:37
24. Jeremiah Bishop (USA) Trek-VW7:55
25. Hannes Metzler (Aut)8:14
26. Martin Gujan (Sui)8:24
27. Marti Gispert Labarta (Esp) Spiuk-Tau Ceramica8:30
28. Oliver Beckingsale (GBr)8:39
29. Ivan Alvarez Gutierrez (Esp) ASD KTM International Team8:53
30. Karl Platt (Ger) Team Bulls9:17
31. Dariusz Batek * (Pol) Halls Professional Mtb Team9:42
32. Rudi Van Houts (Ned) Dolphin Bike Team9:54
33. Alban Lakata (Aut) Trek-VW9:59
34. Stefan Sahm (Ger) Team Bulls10:00
35. Liam Killeen (GBr) Specialized10:02
36. Seamus McGrath (Can) Rocky Mountain Haywood10:14
37. Gion Manetsch (Sui)10:48
38. Thomas Frischknecht (Sui) Swisspower MTB Team10:53
39. Lukas Flückiger (Sui)10:54
40. Jochen Kass (Ger) Team Alb-Gold Mountainbike10:54
41. Marek Galinski (Pol)10:58
42. Ruben Ruzafa Cueto (Esp) Orbea11:12
43. Jiri Friedl * (Cze) Merida Biking Team11:33
44. Todd Wells GT (USA)11:38
45. Geoff Kabush (Can)12:03
46. Daniel Mcconnell * (Aus)12:29
47. Bart Brentjens (Ned) Dolphin Bike Team12:39
48. Robert Gehbauer * (Aut) Multivan Merida Biking Team12:39
49. Pierre Geoffroy Plantet (Fra) Team Lapierre International12:40
50. Silvio Bundi (Sui)12:42
51. Bjorn Brems * (Bel) Dolphin Bike Team12:43
52. Andreas Kugler (Sui) Fischer-BMC12:48
53. Sergy Kysenko (Ukr)13:18
54. Christof Bischof (Sui) Bikin'cyprus Int'l Mtb Team13:56
55. Mathieu Toulouse (Can)14:19
56. Klaus Nielsen (Den) Team Alb-Gold Mountainbike14:46
57. Balz Weber (Sui) Bikepark.Ch Tui14:51
58. Vaclav Hlavac * (Cze)14:57
59. Giuseppe Lamastra (Ita)15:02
60. Yader Zoli (Ita) ASD KTM International Team15:02
61. Robin Seymour (Irl) Dolphin Bike Team15:12
62. Michael Broderick (USA)15:30
63. Tim Wijnants * (Bel) ASD KTM International Team15:57
64. Magnus Darvell (Swe) Team Alb-Gold Mountainbike16:10
65. Ruud Rentmeester (Ned)16:19
66. Niall Davis * (Irl)16:27
67. Andrea Tiberi * (Ita)16:50
68. Tim Bohme (Ger)17:11
69. Filip Eberl (Cze)17:13
70. Stéphane Tempier * (Fra) Gewiss Bianchi17:30
71. Matous Ulman (Cze)17:41
72. Lachlan Norris * (Aus)18:54
73. Andras Parti (Hun)19:15
74. Kris Sneddon (Can) Kona Les Gets-1Lap
75. Sid Taberlay (Aus) Dolphin Bike Team-1Lap
76. Max Oste Macdonald * (Swe)-1Lap
77. Roland Plank (Aut)-1Lap
78. Max Plaxton * (Can) Rocky Mountain Haywood-1Lap
79. Lee Williams (GBr)-1Lap
80. Olaf Rochow (Ger)-1Lap
81. Oleksanar Yakymenko * (Ukr)-1Lap
82. Gilberto Simoni (Ita)-1Lap
83. Ricky Federau (Can)-1Lap
84. Uwe Hochenwarter * (Aut)-1Lap
85. Luka Mezgec * (Slo)-1Lap
86. Jan Skarnitzl * (Cze)-1Lap
87. Ian Bibby * (GBr)-1Lap
88. Ian Wilkinson (GBr)-1Lap
89. Marcus Roy (NZl)-1Lap
90. Steffen Thum (Ger) Team Mayer Stevens-1Lap
91. Luka Homovec * (Slo)-1Lap
92. Robert Kircher (Aut)-1Lap
93. Samuel Schultz * (USA) Subaru-Gary Fisher-1Lap
94. Marco Aurelio Fontana (Ita)-1Lap
95. Evguen Petchenine (Rus) Format-Udmurtia-1Lap
96. Umberto Corti * (Ita)-1Lap
97. Jakob Nimpf * (Aut)-2Laps
98. Robert Mennen * (Ger)-2Laps
99. Anze Bizjak (Slo)-2Laps
100. Luka Rakusa * (Slo)-2Laps
101. Borut Fonda * (Slo)-2Laps
102. Mitja Tancik (Slo)-2Laps
103. Szilard Buruczki (Hun)-2Laps
104. Anddry Gumenyuk * (Ukr)-2Laps
105. Kristian Hynek (Cze)-2Laps
106. Wilko Rochow * (Ger)-2Laps
107. Alexey Belokrylov (Rus) Format-Udmurtia-2Laps
108. Zsolt Szlobodnyik * (Hun)-2Laps
109. Vero Lüscher * (Ger)-2Laps
110. Jaka Tancik (Slo)-2Laps
111. Marios Athanasiades * (Cyp) Bikin'cyprus Int'l Mtb Team-3Laps
112. Florian Vogel (Sui) Swisspower MTB Team-3Laps
113. Jernej Muzga * (Slo)-3Laps
114. Samo Rauter (Slo)-3Laps
115. Dani Simcic * (Cro)-3Laps
116. David Vogrin * (Slo)-3Laps
117. Chris Jongewaard (Aus) Dolphin Bike Team-4Laps
DSQ. Matthias Flückiger * (Sui)
DNF. Nino Schurter * (Sui) Swisspower MTB Team
DNF. Bas Peters (Ned)
DNF. Jaroslav Kulhavy * (Cze)
DNF. Torsten Marx (Ger) Team Alb-Gold Mountainbike
DNF. Emil Lindgren * (Swe) Gewiss Bianchi
DNF. Till Marx (Sui) Swisspower MTB Team
DNF. Tony Longo (Ita)
DNF. Cristobal Silva (Chi)
DNF. Marc Colom * (Fra)
DNF. Conner Mcconvey * (Irl)
DNF. Andras Melts (Hun)
DNF. Carl Decker (USA) Giant Mountain Bike Team
DNF. Gerald Hauer (Aut)


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