By VeloNews Interactive
Swiss legend Thomas Frischknecht (Ritchey-Yahoo!) did it again when he won Sunday’s cross-country World Cup in Kaprun, Austria. The Swiss legend finished nearly a minute ahead of Australian Cadel Evans (Volvo-Cannondale). Frischknecht justified his hero status in mountain biking, a status gained by racing for 11 seasons (including the first world chamionships in 1990) and winning at least one World Cup in all but one of those seasons.
The women’s cross-country race featured two other impressive figures in Spain’s Marga Fullana (Specialized) and Russian newcomer Irina Kalentieva (Merida International), who finished first and second respectively in their four-lap event, leaving their competition behind to battle for podium positions and last-chance points.
And finally, the Dual season got closer to wrapping up with round 7 on Sunday afternoon, as the dual crew put one the final show of the weekend under the warm afternoon sun. American Brian Lopes (Fox-GT) took his sixth win of the season, while Frenchwoman Sabrina Jonnier (RSP Import Intense) won her season’s first.
The term “triple event” hardly does justice to this weekend’s racing schedule in Kaprun, as the Tissot-UCI Mountain Bike World Cup took over this small mountain town for a long weekend of eight races in three disciplines. Just think if Friday’s time-trial had been held as scheduled — it would have been more like a pentathlon.
The weather cleared up at last in this scenic green valley south of Innsbruck and sun, rather than rain, poured down on the thousands of spectators who camped out, hiked up and cheered on the action – complete with annoying yellow ratchet noise-making implements courtesy of sponsor Siemens mobile.
FULLANA GETS A CHALLENGE
Women’s cross-country racing woke the venue up at nine o’clock in the morning, and Fullana was soon in her familiar position of leading the 50 riders in the women’s field. Without Laurence Leboucher to contend with this weekend, Fullana might have been looking forward to an easy ride early on. But she was to be challenged again this week, this time from a brand-new Russian face.
Irina Kalentieva rode with Merida teammate and German champion Sabine Spitz in lap one, the two pacing at fourth and fifth positions until Kalentieva showed her strength in lap two. The small Russian passed both Britain’s Caroline Alexander (Specialized) and Italy’s Annabella Stropparo (Be-One) to own second position, setting her sights on the rainbow jersey of Fullana just 45 seconds up the trail.
While she wouldn’t catch the lead, Kalentieva impressed observers with her climbing power and descending technique. This was only her fourth World Cup race ever, but is Russia’s four-time national champion and is now qualified to race at Vail next month. This week she was the only rider to keep Fullana within her sights, even if she finished two minutes, 40 seconds off the lead.
Stropparo crashed hard on the final descent before her third-place finish, 3:23 off the pace and nearly two minutes ahead of fourth-place Sabine Spitz. Swiss World Cup series leader Barbara Blatter (Specialized) finished fifth, nearly seven minutes back after a self-described mediocre day, but locked up the overall championship for the second year.
FRISCHY SHOWS HIS STRIPES
Men’s racing went off at noon, as the large 166-man field scrambled for points — especially among the top-ten — on the slick 7km course for five laps. Two men — Holland’s Bart Brentjens (Giant Bicycle) and Switzerland’s Christoph Sauser (Volvo Cannondale) — took the lead early, gaining 10 seconds on the field by the end of lap two. Behind them, Evans rode with Frischknecht, while Belgians Roel Paulissen (Team GT) and Filip Meirhaeghe (Specialized) also kept pace among the ever-changing positions.
In lap three the race gelled, as Frishy exploited the early-leaders’ ambitions and boldly attacked for the front. Sir Bart dropped to a chase group and and eventual sixth place, but Sauser hung on the lead pace for another lap — until bike problems forced him to relinquish the front and finish 17th. Evans then took up a solo chase in lap four, with Paulissen and Meirhaeghe chasing in fourth and fifth.
But Frishknecht was on a mission, and increased his lead from 25 to 51 seconds in the final lap. Evans finished strongly in second, while Paulissen parted ways with Meirhaeghe to finish third. Meirhaeghe came across in fifth place after Volvo-Cannondale’s third threat, Kashi Leuchs of New Zealand, completed an impressive push from eighth position to finish fourth.
France’s Miguel Martinez (Full Dynamix) was off the pace after winning last week, and finished a distant 22nd. He was justifiably concerned at the finish that he had lost the leader’s jersey to Spain’s Jose Hermida (Bianchi Motorex), who finished seventh. But Martinez held the lead by 58 points, setting up another close championship race at the finals in two weeks.
AND IN MORE DUAL NEWS…
Lopes qualified fastest, then did it one more time Sunday afternoon by winning his sixth dual in seven tries, further solidifying the overall series and earning his 20th World Cup victory. This week it was at the expense of France’s Mickael Deldycke (Schwinn), who was happy to be healthy and back to racing after an injury suffered in Japan’s round five.
Cedric Gracia (Volvo-Cannondale) of France finished third by winning the consolation round, beating Australian Wade Bootes (Trek-Volkswagen).
The women’s side featured a new winner in France’s Jonnier (RSP Import Intense), who beat second-ranked Katrina Miller (Jamis) of Australia and earned her career’s second World Cup dual victory. Jonnier got the lead from the start, but Miller nearly stole the show after the two hit some padding under a bridge. Jonnier got clear first, and won the heat, and the final.
Tara Llanes (Yeti/Pearl Izumi) qualified fastest, then worked her way to the consolation round to beat Leigh Donovan (Schwinn) in an all-American round, earning only 20 points for the series-leading Donovan and allowing Miller to close to within 45 points of the overall lead.
TISSOT-UCI WORLD CUP SERIES NO. 7, Kaprun, Austria. August 11-12.;
1. Thomas Frischknecht (Swi), Ritchey Yahoo, in 2:02; 2. Cadel Evans (Aus), Volvo-Cannondale) at 0:51; 3. Roel Paulissen (B), Team GT, at 2:28; 4. Kashi Leuchs (NZ), Volvo-Cannondale, at 2:48; 5. Filip Meirhaeghe (B), Specialized, at 3:11; 6. Michael Rasmussen (Dk), Haro-Lee Dungarees, at 3:22; 7. Jose Hermida (Sp), Bianchi Motorex, at 3:37; 8. Bart Brentjens (Nl), Giant Bicycle, at 4:20; 9. Rune Hoydahl (Nor), Giant Bicycles, at 4:25; 10. Ludovic Dubau (F), Team Orbea, at 4:40.;
1. Marga Fullana (ESP, Specialized) in 1:59; 2. Irina Kalentieva (Rus), Merida International, at 2:40; 3. Annabella Stropparo (I), Be-One, at 3:23; 4. Sabine Spitz (G), Merida, at 5:32; 5. Barbara Blatter (Swi), Specialized, at 6:53; 6. Anna Szafraniec (P), Lotto PZU SA, at 8:29; 7. Caroline Alexander (GB), Specialized, at 9:42; 8. Petra Henzi (Swi), Fischer K2, at 11:39; 9. Janet Puiggros Miranda (Sp), Orbea, at 13:21; 10. Corine Dorland (Nl), Be-One, at 13:33.;
Top North American:;
40. Joan Orgeldinger (USA), USA Cycling, -1 lap;
1. Martinez: 947;
2. Hermida: 895;
3. Green: 851;
4. Evans: 811;
5. Absalon: 759;
1. Blatter: 1315;
2. Fullana: 950;
3. Alexander: 815;
4. Dunlap: 800;
5. Spitz: 795;
Men’s Dual Results;
1. Brian Lopes (USA) Fox-GT;
2. Mickael Deldycke (F). Schwinn;
3. Cedric Gracia (F), Volvo-Cannondale;
4. Wade Bootes (Aus), Trek-Volkswagen;
Women’s Dual Results:;
1. Sabrina Jonnier (F), RSP Import Intense;
2. Katrina Miller (Aus), Jamis;
3. Tara Llanes (USA) Yeti/Pearl Izumi;
4. Leigh Donovan (USA), Schwinn;
Men’s Dual Overall:;
1. Lopes: 330;
2. Bootes: 175;
3. Deldycke: 161;
4. Gracia: 147;
5. Carter: 143;
Women’s Dual Overall:;
1. Donovan: 270;
2. Miller: 225;
3. Llanes: 165;
4. Jonnier: 162;
5. Chausson: 120;