Posted by Editor on 07/5/98
Photos from today's race HERE.
The Full Story
Today Cadel Evans rode a race that had his rivals shaking their heads in admiration. With such a strong field in attendance (only Swiss riders Thomas Frischknecht and Lukas Stockli were missing from the top-20 World Cup men), there were no clear pre-race favourites. Luckily for the men, there was none of the morning rain that had made the descents in the womens race so treacherous yesterday. Instead, the men were treated to the best weather all week - clear, sunny and about 25 degrees Celcius. The men rode five and a half laps, down from the six originally scheduled. The half lap included the main climb of the race, and the dreaded "Chute" descent.
It was in the Chute on that first half lap that the race began to take shape. First through was Filip Meirhaeghe, the Mountain Dew-Specialized rider who won St Wendel, and who was sitting second to Evans (Volvo-Cannondale) in the World Cup standings. Slipping and sliding (and falling), the field was still together at this point, but Meirhaeghe was certainly the most confident through the section. Shortly after, a front group of 6 established a lead. In the group were Evans, Meirhaeghe, Miguel Martinez (Sunn), Bas Van Dooren (Be-One), Hubert Pallhuber (DBR) and Rune Hoydahl (Giant). Evans came off for a short time in the second lap, but soon rejoined the frontrunners.
It was in the second lap that Meirhaeghe rolled off the front, on the descent. "I had a gap, after the downhill, so I just continued at my own pace". Meirhaeghe's "pace" was enough to split up the front group within a lap. Martinez made a hard charge up to the Belgian rider, closing the 45 second gap by the start of the fourth lap. Evans was in third, but did not seem to be making any headway; steady at 20 seconds back. Hoydahl was a further 15 seconds behind, with Van Dooren 10 seconds behind Hoydahl. Pallhuber was dropping back, and was eventually passed by Luca Bramati (MT Dew-Specialized).
As the riders entered the last 10 kilometres of the race, the gap between the front duo and Evans was up to 36 seconds, and it looked to be a two man race. However, a lot can happen in two kilometres, and as the riders entered their last lap, Evans had closed to within 10 seconds of Martinez and Meirhaeghe. Less than a kilometre later, on the climb, he had joined them, and a kilometre later he dropped them. "I tried twice to catch up to him, but I could not", said Martinez.
On the descent the young Australian padded his lead, and eventually rolled into the stadium nearly 40 seconds ahead of his French rival. Meirhaeghe faded badly in the last few kilometres, finishing 1:45 down on Evans. Hoydahl took fourth, but only after a last lap scare when his chain jammed and he was passed by Van Dooren. It took a hard chase for the Norwegian to take back his spot.
Kirk Molday (Trek/VW) served notice that he is back after early season health problems, posting a fine performance that netted him 10th - top North American. Top Canadian was Chris Sheppard (Catera/Pure Energy) in 20th. Sheppard was pleased with his performance: "I haven't raced for three weeks, so I didn't know what I could do. I rode really conservatively for the first three laps, and then started to open it up at the end."
Andreas Hestler (Volvo-Cannondale) was the early lead Canadian rider, consistently remaining in the top-20 until the last lap and a half, when leg cramps hit. "I had to actually stop and get off the bike on the last hill, and then this constant stream of riders went by." Hestler ended up in 32nd place. Possibly the most amazing ride of the day was Seamus McGrath (Haro). Early on he was riding close to Sheppard, in the twenties. Then a collision with another rider resulted in no rear shifting mechanism, so he rode the rest of the race in one gear! AND the accident happened on the third lap! All other Canadian results are on a previous posting.
Canmore is the first World Cup where riders start to discard their worst results, counting the best 5 of the season. Evans remains at the top, with 3 wins; Hoydahl displaces Meirhaeghe in second, Van Dooren jumps from 6th to 4th, and Martinez goes from 12th to 5th in the overall standings. Chris sheppard is the top Canadian - 24th. (More Canadian standings in an earlier posting)
Among notable DNF's at Canmore: Christophe Dupouey (Sunn), Jerome Chiotti (GT), Tinker Juarez (Volvo-Cannondale), Gregory Vollet (Giant) and Neil Grover (Rocky Mountain), who suffered the same problem as Seamus McGrath, but in the first lap.
We will post full results, and full Canadian World Cup standings tomorrow. (The editor is off to catch a plane...)
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