By VeloNews Interactive
Schwinn’s Leigh Donovan kept her win streak alive with a Saturday night dual win in Japan. Donovan’s third World Cup dual win allowed her to keep her leader’s jersey and stretch her lead in the overall standings. Australian world champion Wade Bootes (Trek-Volkswagen) won his first World Cup final of the season in front of massive crowds at the Arai ski area.
Thousands of spectators came out for a race that didn’t end until nearly 10:00 p.m. This week’s World Cup dual had course controversy once again, as the men’s race in particular made a heavy favorite of the first rider out of the gate.
With the hole-shot determining the winners, both Donovan and Bootes took full advantage — until their final runs. First Donovan was forced to recover from a slow start against Australian Katrina Miller (Jamis) in their final run, making it around the former champion and playing defense for the remainder of the run. When she crossed the finish-line first, Donovan had moved 70 points ahead of rival Anne-Caroline Chausson (Volvo-Cannondale).
Chausson, meanwhile, qualified fourth but didn’t race in the finals, as she continues to nurse an injured knee. She decided to save herself for Sunday’s downhill event, putting Donovan in the driver’s seat for a possible World Cup and NORBA title in her 2001 farewell tour.
The men had even tougher runs if they wanted to advance, and Bootes wanted it more than anyone. He first got past Cedric Gracia (Volvo-Cannondale) in the semi-finals, and then met another Frenchman, Mickael Deldycke (Schwinn) in the finals.
Gracia clashed with his ex-teammate Brian Lopes (Fox/GT), who had crashed out of his semi-final run against Deldycke as he looked to defend his No. 1 overall ranking. The two met up in the consolation round, where Lopes got around Gracia in the second turn and never looked back.
Bootes and Deldycke raced each other in the finals, and Deldycke got the holeshot. But Bootes got the win after an aggressive move sent Deldycke to the dirt with an injured knee. As Bootes pointed out, however, the dual is a contact sport.
TISSOT-UCI WORLD CUP DUAL No. 4, Arai, Japan. July 28.
Women: 1. Leigh Donovan (USA), Schwinn; 2. Katrina Miller (Aus), Jamis; 3. Sabrina Jonnier (F), RSP Import Intense; 4. Tai-Lee Muxlow (Aus), Dirt Works USA.
Men: 1. Wade Bootes (Aus), Trek-Volkswagen; 2. Mickael Deldycke (F), Schwinn; 3. Brian Lopes (USA), Fox-GT; 4. Cedric Gracia (F), Volvo-Cannondale.
1. Donovan, 190; 2. Anne-Caroline Chausson (F), Volvo-Cannondale, 120; 3. Tara Llanes (USA), Yeti-Pearl Izume, 90;
1. Lopes, 180; 2. Bootes, 115; 3. Deldycke, 106.