Posted by Editoress on 06/25/05
MTB World Cup Mont-Ste-Anne, QC
Reports brought to with the support of Gestev
The thunderous applause from the forest on the last lap of the Women's World Cup XC meant only one thing. Marie-Helene Premont (Rocky Mountain Business Objects) was in the lead. The highly partisan home-town crowd just went nuts. People were streaming out of the woods in droves trying to get a spot along the finish chute to welcome Premont to the winner's circle.
With her traditional ear-to-ear smile Premont came across the line with arms in the air. She then stopped and lifted her bike in the air. The crush of media was incredible. She clearly was enjoying the win. "It is fantastic. All my friends are here. My mother, my sister, my brother. It is so wonderful. This is my first win at home. I'm really happy for this result. I really thank the crowd that was here for me. My friends over there - some of them are still crying."
Premont had only one strategy going into the race. "I knew at the first lap that I wanted to stay behind Gunn-Rita. She's strong at the beginning of a race. For the start loop there was a big cross wind so I just kept her wheel. After that I tried to keep her in sight. No more than 20 or 25 seconds back. I knew I could be strong at the end of the race because I always was in the past. I ended up passing her on one of the descents. I was attacking on the climbs and also on the first technical part. I knew I was feeling strong there so I used that to close the gap." Premont was asked if she knew Dahle was having problems. "I didn't know at first, but people told me along the course. From that I knew it was harder for her and better and better for me. I wasn't feeling very good at the beginning because of the heat, but I felt better as the race went on. Next is Brazil and I'm hoping for more success."
The key moment in the race was the 4th lap's second climb. Gunn-Rita Dahle (Multivan Merida) started to visibly wilt. "Suddenly with no warning on the second climb I lost all my power. I really considered getting off my bike and walking. I was hoping it would come back, but it didn't. The only other time this has happened to me was at the Olympics when I got the same feeling. There I got my energy back but not here." Dahle was very gracious in her defeat. "Marie-Helene was really strong. I know that feeling to win in front of a home crowd. She is a great girl. She deserved to win." Dahle lost a staggering 2:45 in the final lap.
Sabine Spitz (Specialized) rode a consistent 3rd place, but was never a factor in the race, 5:13 back of Premont. Afterwards she was extremely disappointed. "I'm unhappy. My goal was to win, but I couldn't follow those 2 girls. The temperature made it really hard today. Last week I was at altitude and maybe that was a factor."
Other Canadians in the top 20 were Kiara Bisaro (Gearsracing.com) in 9th, Trish Sinclair (Scott) in 11th, Mical Dyck in 15th, Amanda Sin 17th, Julie Sanders 18th and Catherine Pendrel in 20th.
Bisaro - "It was really, really, really hot! At Nationals I didn't feel it as much as today, but today I don't feel as sharp as I did then. I'm not sure why. Once I knew that I couldn't stay with the front people I just settled into my own pace."
Sinclair was laughing, but clearly fatigued. "I'm tired. The heat was bad. Towards the end of the race it got a bit better, so I could push a bit harder. At the beginning I knew it was all about being conservative. It's not the most fun racing, but I did have some trying to chase down Yvonne Kraft for 10th. 11th is okay. I always seem to just miss the top 10. I love the course. That was the saving grace. It was so much fun. The men are lucky that it has cooled down a bit. It could rain. That would make for a more exciting race. Then it would really divide the girls from the women in the men's race!"
The U.S. had a strong showing today, managing to put two riders on the podium. Willow Koerber (Ford) in 4th and Mary McConneloug (Kenda) took her 3rd consecutive World Cup podium in 5th, despite a crash on the first lap.
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