Events

Finally: Dahle wins world title

There were no late-race flat tires, no mysterious illnesses and no bad luck Sunday for Gunn-Rita Dahle, as the Norwegian won the world championship title that’s eluded her throughout her up and down career. Following last year’s heartbreak at Vail when she flatted while leading late in the race, the popular Norwegian pulled away from 1999 world junior champion Anna Szafraniec of Poland on the third lap to seal the deal. Heavy rain turned the women’s cross-country race into a two-hour hike-a-bike and Dahle simply endured the troubles better than her rivals. "I was focusing on easy pedaling

By Andrew Hood

Dahle takes the cross country in Kaprun.

Dahle takes the cross country in Kaprun.

Photo: Jason Sumner

There were no late-race flat tires, no mysterious illnesses and no bad luck Sunday for Gunn-Rita Dahle, as the Norwegian won the world championship title that’s eluded her throughout her up and down career.

Following last year’s heartbreak at Vail when she flatted while leading late in the race, the popular Norwegian pulled away from 1999 world junior champion Anna Szafraniec of Poland on the third lap to seal the deal.

Heavy rain turned the women’s cross-country race into a two-hour hike-a-bike and Dahle simply endured the troubles better than her rivals.

Dunlap strugles up one of the slick climbs.

Dunlap strugles up one of the slick climbs.

Photo: Andrew Hood

“I was focusing on easy pedaling and small gears and not take any chances because even small crashes you can damage something on your bike,” she said. “I was riding safely up and down and I think that is why I became the best one today.”

Dahle nearly retired in 2000 after over-training for the Sydney Games wrecked her form. Her comeback last year almost had a storybook ending at Vail, but she flatted in the final lap and had to watch Alison Dunlap pass her to take the rainbow jersey.

“It’s unbelievable to get that revenge,” said Dahle, who won the European title last month in Switzerland. “I didn’t think I would win today. I didn’t go into the race feeling good like I did at the European championships. I thought it would be a hard race and I would be fighting for the top-10.”

Instead, Dahle focused on keeping her tempo and watched the field struggle in the horrendous conditions. Kaprun’s steep, demanding course was challenging enough in the dry. In the wet, several sections of the course became unrideable.

Defending champion Dunlap was in good position, just 30 seconds behind a train of five riders off the front in the second lap. Dunlap, however, broke her derailleur and did not finish. Susan Haywood overcame her own difficulties in the opening lap to finish 17th as the top American.

“A piece of metal got wrapped up around my axle and I had to end up taking my wheel off. The race was more of a race of attrition,” said Haywood, who called the race one of the most difficult in her career. “I didn’t crash hard until the last lap. It was so slick out there. The downhill sections were okay, but the off-camber sections were the hardest.”

Dahle moved up from ninth position after the first lap to get into a group of five riders that split off the front in the second lap. Joining Dahle were two-time world champion Marga Fullana of Spain, Szafraniec, Alison Sydor of Canada and Sabine Spitz of Germany.

Dahle and Szafraniec edged away in the third lap while Sydor struggled to maintain the pace. Fullana abandoned and the Canadian eventually succumbed to Spitz, who took third, while Petra Henzi of Switzerland moved up late to take fifth place.

Photo Gallery

Results

MOUNTAIN BIKE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS; KAPRUN, AUSTRIA; AUGUST 29-SEPTEMBER 1; CROSS COUNTRY; WOMEN;1. Gunn-Rita DAHLE, NOR, 2:14:05.00;
2. Anna SZAFRANIEC, POL, 2:15:28.00;
3. Sabine SPITZ, GER, 2:16:53.00;
4. Alison SYDOR, CAN, 2:17:41.00;
5. Petra HENZI, SUI, 2:22:26.00;
6. Maroussia RUSCA, SUI, 2:22:42.00;
7. Chrissy REDDEN, CAN, 2:24:02.00;
8. Kiara BISARO, CAN, 2:24:44.00;
9. Nina GOEHL, GER, 2:25:30.00;
10. Alla EPIFANOVA, RUS, 2:25:30.00;
11. Mary GRIGSON, AUS, 2:27:36.00;
12. Katrin SCHWING, GER, 2:27:37.00;
13. Caroline ALEXANDER, GBR, 2:28:02.00;
14. Helene MARCOUYRE, FRA, 2:28:12.00;
15. Petra SCHOERKMAYER, AUT, 2:28:31.00;
16. Marie-Helene PREMONT, CAN, 2:29:16.00;
17. Susan HAYWOOD, USA, 2:29:21.00;
18. Anna ENOCSSON, SWE, 2:31:00.00;
19. Sonja TRAXEL, SUI, 2:31:48.00;
20. B‰rbel JUNGMEIER, AUT, 2:32:10.00;
21. Laurence LEBOUCHER, FRA, 2:33:35.00;
22. SILVIA ROVIRA PLANAS, ESP, 2:33:57.00;
23. Willow KOERBER, USA, 2:34:29.00;
24. Hiroko NAMBU, JPN, 2:36:28.00;
25. Mary MCCONNELOUG, USA, 2:36:34.00;
26. Hildegard EMBACHER, AUT, 2:37:18.00;
27. Yvonne KRAFT, GER, 2:37:33.00;
28. Hanusova KATERINA, CZE, 2:37:35.00;
29. Dellys FRANKE, AUS, 2:39:01.00;
30. Regina MARUNDE, GER, 2:39:28.00;
31. Trish SINCLAIR, CAN, 2:39:42.00;
32. Severine HANSEN, FRA, 2:40:22.00;
33. Mette ANDERSEN, DEN, 2:41:29.00;
34. Eron CHORNEY, CAN, 2:41:34.00;
35. Mourao JAQUELINE, BRA, 2:43:45.00;
36. Janka STEVKOVA, SVK, 2:45:48.00;
37. Janet PUIGROS MIRANDA, ESP, 2:46:10.00;
38. Bernadine BOOG-RAUWERDA, NED, 2:46:24.00;
39. Valentina PAZITOVA, RUS, 2:49:49.00;
40. Bejstova JINDRISKA, CZE, 2:50:07.00;
41. Daphny VAN DE BRAND, NED, 2:51:44.00;
42. Blaza KLEMENCIC, SLO, 2:52:52.00;
43. Grete PEDMANSON, EST, -1Lap;
44. Jenny COPNALL, GBR, -1Lap;
45. Jenny SMITH, NZL, -1Lap;
46. Corine DORLAND, NED, -1Lap;
47. Tarja OWENS, IRL, -1Lap;
48. Lorenza MORFIN MACOUZE, MEX, -1Lap;
49. Viktoria KRUNCZ, HUN, -1Lap;
50. Laurie COPANS, ISR, -1Lap;
51. Saskia ELEMANS, NED, -1Lap;
52. Maris MEIER, EST, -1Lap;
53. Sandra WALTER, CAN, -1Lap;
54. Mirjam DIELEMAN, NED, -1Lap;
55. Sabina REZAR, SLO, -1Lap;
56. Natalia BOYARSKAYA, RUS, -1Lap;
57. Adriana GONZALEZ SANCHEZ, MEX, -1Lap;
58. KATERYNA YAROVA, UKR, -2Laps;
59. Elina SOPHOCLEOUS, CYP, -2Laps;
60. Ekaterina MALOMOURA, RUS, -2Laps;
61. Nadejda VLASOVA, RUS, -2Laps;
62. Hannele KOTZE, RSA, -2Laps;
63. Ivana RUSZKOWSKI, CRO, -2Laps;
. Alison DUNLAP, USA, DNF;
. Annabella STROPPARO, ITA, DNF;
. Margarita FULLANA RIERA, ESP, DNF;
. Irina KALENTIEVA, RUS, DNF;
. Sandra KLOSE, GER, DNF;
. Robyn WONG, NZL, DNF;
. Camilla BERTOSSI, ITA, DNF;
. SHONNY VANLANDINGHAM, USA, DNF;
. Marion THEVENET, FRA, DNF;
. Bublova ILONA, CZE, DNF;
. Maria OESTERGREN, SWE, DNF;
. Maja WLOSCZOWSKA, POL, DNF;
. Magdalena SADLEKA, POL, DNF;
. Havlikova PAVLA, CZE, DNF;
. Barbara BLATTER, SUI, DNS;
. Jimena FLORIT, ARG, DNS;
. Sue THOMAS, GBR, DNS