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By Rob Jones
Marie-Helene Premont (Rocky Mountain), has accomplished the first major goal of her season by winning the fifth round of the mountain bike World Cup in Fort William, Scotland.
Premont beat the previous week’s winner, Marga Fullana (Massi), by 13 seconds on Saturday, and extended her lead in the overall standings to 60 points. Sabine Spitz (Ghost) finished third, with Lene Byberg (Specialized) and Laurence Leboucher (France) rounding out the podium. Georgia Gould and Catharine Pendrel (both Luna) finished 11th and 12th, respectively.
The phenomenal weather that has blessed the Scottish Highlands continued for the cross-country, with blue skies and temperatures in the 20s (Celsius). This suited both Premont and Fullana, who broke away from the rest of the field in the first kilometer. Fullana was driving the move, with Premont along to keep track of her rival.
“I knew that Marga was riding very well, and that the climbing on this course suited her, so I could not let her go away,” explained Premont. “I stayed with her for the first three laps, but then on the third lap she was too strong on the climb, so I had to let her take a little gap.”
The gap was a manageable 20 seconds, and gave Premont someone to chase and focus on for the final two laps. In the last lap, Premont attacked hard on the main climb, bridging up to the Spanish rider, and then dropping her in the descent and fast flatter section into the finish.
“I was sure that I could catch her, and I knew that I was descending better than she was. It was my goal to win a World Cup here, and now I know that I am on proper form for the world championships.”
Behind the lead duo, the gap was going up and the chase group getting shuffled each lap. First it was Leboucher, Gould and Blaza Klemencic (Giant Italia). Then Gould started to fade and her teammates Katerina Nash and Pendrel moved up, as did Spitz. On the fourth lap, the Luna riders dropped back slightly, with Lui Ying (China), and Byberg moving up to join Spitz, Klemencic and Leboucher. These five would fight it out in the last lap for the remaining podium spots, but over three minutes down on the two leaders.
At the front, Premont was able to cruise in ahead of Fullana, having successfully fought off the one serious challenger to her lead in World Cup as the series takes a seven-week break before resuming in Canada at the end of July.
World Cup No. 5
Fort William, Scotland
1. Marie-Helene Premont (Can), Rocky Mountain, 2:00:42
2. Margarita Fullana (Sp), Massi, at 0:13
3. Sabine Spitz (G), Central Ghost, at 3:10
4. Lene Byberg (Nor), Specialized Factory Racing, at 3:19
5. Laurence Leboucher (F), at 3:33
6. Ying Liu (Chn), Chinese National Team, at 3:53
7. Blaza Klemencic (Slo), Giant Italia Team, at 4:48
8. Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Nor), Multivan Merida, at 4:56
9. Petra Henzi (Swi), Fischer-BMC, at 4:58
10. Maroussia Rusca (Swi), at 5:19
11. Georgia Gould (USA), Luna, at 5:28
12. Catharine Pendrel (Can), Luna, at 5:56
13. Adelheid Morath (G), at 6:40
14. Katerina Nash (Cze), Luna, at 6:58
15. Elisabeth Osl (A), Team Ghost International, at 7:10
16. Tanja Zakelj (Slo), at 7:15
17. Mary McConneloug (USA), Kenda Seven, at 7:16
18. Heather Irmiger (USA), Subaru-Gary Fisher, at 7:20
19. Alexandra Engen (Swe), at 7:27
20. Lea Davison (USA), Trek-VW, at 7:30
21. Elsbeth Van Rooij-Vink (Ned), Beone Chainreaction, at 7:40
22. Maria Osl (A), Sunshine Racers ASV Nals, at 8:03
23. Katrin Leumann (Sui), at 8:20
24. Sabrina Enaux (F), Team Lapierre International, at 8:26
25. Chengyuan Ren (Chn), Chinese National Team, at 8:30
26. Ivonne Kraft (G), Joybike-MBC Bochum, at 8:43
27. Kiara Bisaro (Can), Opus, at 9:37
28. Maaike Polspoel (B), at 10:21
29. Wendy Simms (Can), Kona, at 10:58
30. Dellys Starr (Aus), at 11:18