Events

Sauser takes Houffalize cross country

It wasn’t the finish the cycling mad Belgian fans were hoping for, but with two riders in the top three it wasn’t a bad day either. The man spoiling the party at World Cup cross country No. 2 in Houffalize was Christoph Sauser, who bested home-country heroes Roel Paulissen and Filip Meirhaeghe in the 38.5km race on Sunday. After spending four laps dueling with a powerful lead group that also included the likes of Roland Green and Bart Brentjens, Sauser (Volvo-Cannondale) and Paulissen (Lanabau-Rainer-Wurz.com) broke away together, building a gap that hovered around 15 seconds. From there

By Jason Sumner, VeloNews Associate Editor

Sauser wins his dream race.

Sauser wins his dream race.

Photo: Jason Sumner

It wasn’t the finish the cycling mad Belgian fans were hoping for, but with two riders in the top three it wasn’t a bad day either. The man spoiling the party at World Cup cross country No. 2 in Houffalize was Christoph Sauser, who bested home-country heroes Roel Paulissen and Filip Meirhaeghe in the 38.5km race on Sunday.

After spending four laps dueling with a powerful lead group that also included the likes of Roland Green and Bart Brentjens, Sauser (Volvo-Cannondale) and Paulissen (Lanabau-Rainer-Wurz.com) broke away together, building a gap that hovered around 15 seconds. From there Sauser went on the attack, gapping Paulissen with less than half a lap to go. But the Belgian managed to pull back the time and was just 20 meters behind Sauser when the pair crossed the wooden bridge that led the riders out of the woods and back into Houffalize.

But just when it looked like the throng of fans lined five and six deep along the finish straightaway would be treated to a sprint, Paulissen crashed allowing Sauser to cross the line alone.

The first climb of the day.

The first climb of the day.

Photo: Jason Sumner

“I think I just hit a wet spot, but I’m not sure,” lamented Paulissen, who managed to quickly jump back on his bike to take second.

Sauser admitted afterward that he didn’t even know Paulissen was closing on him. “I thought I had it,” he said. “Thank god for the rain.”

Indeed, though threatening clouds hung over Houffalize for most of the day, the rain didn’t come until the last lap of the men’s race. The final gap would end up at 11 seconds, with Sauser finishing in 1:49:37. Meirhaeghe took third at 0:19, followed by Brentjens (Giant) at 0:20, then Green (Trek-Volkswagen) at 0:58. Todd Wells (Mongoose-Hyundai) was the top American finisher, placing 28th at 7:20.

The beginning of the race was marked by a blistering pace that saw 205 riders battling for position during the steep paved climb up out of town. But as soon as racing moved onto the dirt, things spread out quickly with a power group of 10 moving off the front.

That group would stay intact until the fourth lap, when Sauser, Paulissen, Brentjens and Green put 15 seconds into Meirhaeghe, Lado Fumic (T-Mobile) and Marco Bui (Lanabau-Rainer-Wurz.com). Meirhaeghe would be the only one to recover, reattaching himself during the final lap.

From there it was “just one attack after another,” Meirhaeghe said.

The Belgian fans were out in force.

The Belgian fans were out in force.

Photo: Jason Sumner

Green was the first to go, dropping the hammer on the last trip up the paved climb. But the Canadian didn’t have the legs to make it stick.

“All day I could hear him breathing very hard,” said Sauser about the 2001 world champion. “I knew he would not be the winner today.”

Sauser was the next to try something, taking a shot on the race’s second major climb, a long lungbuster that crisscrossed its way up a huge field above the town.

“Everyone was looking at each other, then Christoph attacked,” said Paulissen. “I was the only one who could close it, and from there we went back and forth the rest of the way.”

At the end it was Sauser in front, giving the 26-year-old the biggest win of his life.

“I have always dreamed about winning Houffalize,” said the now three-time World Cup winner. “It’s mountain biking’s classic.”

Race Notes
— Miguel Martinez had been part of the early lead group, but disappeared during the middle of the race, posting his second straight DNF. There was no word on the reason. Others who failed to finish included Thomas Frischknecht, American Walker Ferguson and Canadian Chris Sheppard.

— Organizers estimated that 35,000 people attended the two-day event and that wasn’t taking into the account the number of fans who managed to avoid paying the entrance fee, which was 3 euros for Saturday and 5 for Sunday.

— Brentjens retained his hold on the World Cup leader’s jersey, while Paulissen moved up one place to second. Sauser is third, then Green and Meirhaeghe.

Photo Gallery

Results

TISSOT UCI WORLD CUP; CROSS COUNTRY NO. 2; Houffalize, Belgium; May 26; Men;Position, Plate, UCI Code, Name, Nation, Age, Time, Gap;
1, 7, SUI19760313, SAUSER, Christoph, SUI, 38.5km in 1:49:37;
2, 3, BEL19760427, PAULISSEN, Roel, BEL, 1:49:48, at 11;
3, 6, BEL19710305, MEIRHAEGHE, Filip, BEL, 1:49:56, at 19;
4, 1, NED19681010, BRENTJENS, Bart, NED, 1:49:57, at 20;
5, 2, CAN19740729, GREEN, Roland, CAN, 1:50:35, at 58;
6, 10, FRA19800816, ABSALON, Julien *, FRA, 1:50:37, at 1:00;
7, 5, GER19760520, FUMIC, Lado, GER, 1:50:45, at 1:08;
8, 4, ESP19780824, HERMIDA, Jose Antonio, ESP, 1:51:10, at 1:33;
9, 9, ITA19771017, BUI, Marco, ITA, 1:51:17, at 1:40;
10, 14, FRA19731117, DUBAU, Ludovic, FRA, 1:52:01, at 2:24;
11, 65, FRA19680808, DUPOUEY, Christophe, FRA, 1:52:19, at 2:42;
12, 17, FRA19770720, POULY, Peter, FRA, 1:52:48, at 3:11;
13, 19, POL19740801, GALINSKI, Marek, POL, 1:52:54, at 3:17;
14, 11, ITA19770721, FRUET, Martino, ITA, 1:53:06, at 3:29;
15, 45, POL19780806, KARCZYNSKI, Marcin, POL, 1:53:32, at 3:55;
16, 29, CAN19801209, HESJEDAL, Ryder, CAN, 1:53:37, at 4:00;
17, 58, SUI19770213, KALBERER, Thomas, SUI, 1:53:48, at 4:11;
18, 25, GER19820330, FUMIC, Manuel *, GER, 1:53:49, at 4:12;
19, 16, POL19780503, KOWAL, Mariusz, POL, 1:54:19, at 4:42;
20, 89, ITA19750428, DE BERTOLIS, Massimo, ITA, 1:55:03, at 5:26;
21, 74, SWE19800517, KESSIAKOFF, Fredrik *, 1:55:22, at 5:45;
22, 12, FRA19740928, CHEVALLIER, Jerome, FRA, 1:55:28, at 5:51;
23, 15, NZL19780630, LEUCHS, Kashi, NZL, 1:55:29, at 5:52;
24, 20, MADRIGAL, Ziranda, MEX, 1:55:30, at 5:53;
25, 26, BARRIGA, Salvador, MEX, 1:56:34, at 6:57;
26, 49, GER19750625, MARX, Torsten, GER, 1:56:50, at 7:13;
27, 13, MCGRATH, Seamus, CAN, 1:56:52, at 7:15;
28, 27, USA19751225, WELLS, Todd, USA, 1:56:57, at 7:20;
29, 38, GER19810505, KASS, Jochen *, GER, 1:57:10, at 7:33;
30, 107, GER19780511, DILGER, Andreas, GER, 1:57:30, at 7:53;
31, 37, SUI19780613, BUNDI, Silvio, SUI, 1:57:48, at 8:11;
32, 59, AUS19751114, FLEMING, Josh, AUS, 1:57:49, at 8:12;
33, 62, ESP19810928, COLOMA, Carlos *, ESP, 1:58:02, at 8:25;
34, 31, ESP19770907, ORTIZ, Antonio, ESP, 1:58:09, at 8:32;
35, 44, NOR19780305, AUSTAD, Hakon, NOR., 1:58:25, at 8:48;
36, 47, GER19780314, PLATT, Karl, GER, 1:58:33, at 8:56;
37, 22, ESP19770425, DIAZ, Alejandro, ESP, 1:58:48, at 9:11;
38, 35, ESP19830901, LEJARRETA, Inaki *, ESP, 1:58:52, at 9:15;
39, 104, DEN19790918, POULSEN, Christian, DEN, 1:59:00, at 9:23;
40, 32, AUS19800122, TABERLAY, Sid *, AUS, 1:59:11, at 9:34;
41, 30, GBR19820412, KILLEEN, Liam *, 1:59:23, at 9:46;
42, 110, POL19731119, KAISER, Andrej, POL, 1:59:44, at 10:07;
43, 78, SUI19740702, SOLER, Daniel, SUI, 1:59:51, at 10:14;
44, 126, BEL19791223, TIELENS, Jimmy, BEL, 1:59:57, at 10:20;
45, 122, ERICSSON, Frederick, SWE, 2:00:02, at 10:25;
46, 33, NED19760514, PETERS, Bas, NED, 2:00:11, at 10:34;
47, 105, SWE19710426, PALMBERG, Magnus, SWE, 2:00:12, at 10:35;
48, 69, AUT19801011, SOUKUP, Christoph *, AUT, 2:00:12, at 10:35;
49, 87, CZE19770322, SPESNY, Milan, CZE, 2:00:13, at 10:36;
50, 53, AUS19710207, GORDON, Craig, AUS, 2:00:14, at 10:37;
51, 46, GBR19661211, CLARKE, Barrie, GBR, 2:00:29, at 10:52;
52, 159, BEL19690113, POELVOORDE, Ronny, BEL, 2:00:35, at 10:58;
53, 24, HOCHSTRASSER, Thomas, SUI, 2:00:56, at 11:19;
54, 79, AUT19770108, SCHEIDERBAUER, Jorg, AUT, 2:01:02, at 11:25;
55, 97, SUI19800712, GIRARD, Julien *, SUI, 2:01:04, at 11:27;
56, 48, ESP19701211, ADRADA, Julian, ESP, 2:01:30, at 11:53;
57, 93, SUI19740621, HELLER, Marcel, SUI, 2:01:31, at 11:54;
58, 84, GBR19690403, CRAIG, Nick, GBR, 2:01:33, at 11:56;
59, 72, ESP19760317, MARQUEZ, JosÈ, ESP, 2:01:35, at 11:58;
60, 83, GER19771130, GOLZ, Marc, GER, 2:02:04, at 12:27;
61, 94, SUI19780731, BISCHOF, Christof, SUI, 2:02:13, at 12:36;
62, 51, GER19820702, BOHME, Tim *, GER, 2:02:15, at 12:38;
63, 52, ESP19781023, GISPERT, Marti, ESP, 2:02:16, at 12:39;
64, 103, ESP19760529, GISPERT, Eloj, ESP, 2:02:30, at 12:53;
65, 191, NOR19810502, SUNDAL, Thomas, NOR, 2:02:42, at 13:05;
66, 56, DEN19770522, BONNE, Thomas, DEN, 2:02:52, at 13:15;
67, 61, GBR19760607, BECKINGSALE, Oliver, GBR, 2:02:54, at 13:17;
68, 57, AUT19810117, WEISS, Michael *, AUT, 2:03:11, at 13:34;
69, 188, DEN19800108, NIELSEN, Klaus *, DEN, 2:03:19, at 13:42;
70, 236, POL19831130, PRZYBYLA, Marcin *, POL, 2:03:24, at 13:47;
71, 147, ITA19751001, ZOLI, Yader, ITA, 2:04:03, at 14:26;
72, 156, SUI19830911, GRAF, Jurg *, SUI, 2:04:04, at 14:27;
73, 113, ZACARIAS, Armando, MEX, 2:04:16, at 14:39;
74, 101, AUT19750731, KRALER, Martin, AUT, 2:04:17, at 14:40;
75, 134, NED19710705, DE VRIES, Micha, NED, 2:04:36, at 14:59;
76, 67, HESTLER, Andreas, CAN, 2:04:40, at 15:03;
77, 132, NOR19770103, STORMO, Frederik, NOR, 2:04:49, at 15:12;
78, 242, GER19811116, GENZE, Hannes *, GER, 2:04:49, at 15:12;
79, 91, RAMETSTEINER, Roman, AUT, 2:04:58, at 15:21;
80, 167, FRA19780306, BOMBARDO, Gregory, FRA, 2:05:09, at 15:32;
81, 157, SWE19820602, DARVELL, Magnus *, SWE, 2:05:13, at 15:36;
82, 118, GBR19800216, DIXON, Phil *, GBR, 2:05:15, at 15:38;
83, 146, GBR19800712, MORLEY, Tim *, GBR, 2:05:16, at 15:39;
84, 106, BEL19820722, BYNENS, Damien *, BEL, 2:05:33, at 15:56;
85, 77, NAM19710714, HEYMANS, Mannie, NAM, 2:05:36, at 15:59;
86, 238, ESP19840909, RUZAFA, Ruben, ESP, 2:05:41, at 16:04;
87, 75, COL19720630, GARAVITO, Javier, COL, 2:05:42, at 16:05;
88, 99, NED19791010, BAKKER, Erwin, NED, 2:06:02, at 16:25;
89, 178, GROSDIDIER, Remy *, FRA, 2:06:38, at 17:01;
90, 227, CHN19780509, FUYU, Li, CHN, 2:06:45, at 17:08;
91, 139, JORGENSEN, Petter *, NOR, 2:06:46, at 17:09;
92, 145, REUVERS, Rob *, NED, 2:06:47, at 17:10;
93, 201, MICHAELSEN, Frode, NOR, 2:06:54, at 17:17;
94, 161, SUI19800827, RICHLI, Simon *, SUI, 2:06:57, at 17:20;
95, 125, GBR19800804, CRAWFORTH, Jody *, GBR, 2:06:58, at 17:21;
96, 155, SCHMUDE, Friedeman *, GER, 2:07:17, at 17:40;
97, 112, POL19820531, FORMICKI, Piotr *, POL, 2:07:56, at 18:19;
98, 92, GER19780221, ESCHENBACH, Florian, GER, 2:08:02, at 18:25;
99, 109, AUT19731010, KNAUBERT, Matthias, AUT, 2:08:07, at 18:30;
100, 193, NED19760114, HEEMSKERK, Tim, NED, 2:08:15, at 18:38;
101, 239, ESP19791201, AREVALO, Jose, ESP, 2:08:32, at 18:55;
102, 163, POR19791211, SIMAO, Nelio, POR, 2:08:39, at 19:02;
103, 154, SUI19750425, BENOIT, Stephane, SUI, 2:09:03, at 19:26;
104, 244, HELNING, Christian, GER, 2:09:15, at 19:38;
105, 229, CHN19760312, YONGBIA, Zhu, CHN, 2:09:16, at 19:39;
106, 183, GATTERER, Alexander, AUT, 2:09:20, at 19:43;
107, 169, NED19750424, DIJKHUIS, Atze, NED, 2:10:10, at 20:33;
108, 217, GBR19801209, FARMER, Steve *, GBR, 2:10:44, at 21:07;
109, 98, EST19720916, KUKK, Sigvard, EST, 2:10:51, at 21:14;
110, 189, ERIKSSON, Daniel, SWE, 2:10:58, at 21:21;
111, 137, GBR19790702, TOOGOOD, Zak, GBR, 2:11:06, at 21:29;
112, 185, GER19820428, BINDER, Ludwig *, GER, 2:11:13, at 21:36;
113, 128, AUS19731205, LEIS, Mark, AUS, 2:11:31, at 21:54;
114, 141, CHI19791012, SILVA, Cristobal, CHI, 2:11:37, at 22:00;
115, 215, GBR19830719, SPENCER, Philip *, GBR, 2:12:07, at 22:30;
116, 198, DEN19810331, NIELSEN, Tommy *, DEN, 2:12:29, at 22:52;
117, 168, AUT19760101, EILER, Alexander, AUT, 2:13:22, at 23:45;
118, 204, SWE19810409, FRIBERG, Calle *, SWE, 2:13:28, at 23:51;
119, 148, AUT19711123, HAUER, Gerald, AUT, – 1 lap;
120, 213, NED19820911, WAGENAAR, Mathijs *, NED, – 1 lap;
121, 228, AUS19830308, LEFMANN, Aiden *, AUS, – 1 lap;
122, 208, FRA19820327, BOURLY, Fabien *, FRA, – 1 lap;
123, 233, BEL19800425, JACOBS, Gody *, BEL, – 1 lap;
124, 144, SUI19741105, MUELLER, Lukas, SUI, – 1 lap;
125, 196, GBR19750429, GARDNER, Sam, GBR, – 1 lap;
126, 234, BEL19770124, APPERMANS, Steve, BEL, – 1 lap;
127, 177, NED19751225, DONA, Simon, NED, – 1 lap;
128, 123, NED19771105, TJALLINGII, Marten, NED, – 1 lap;
129, 252, SUI19800301, MULLER, Roland *, SUI, – 1 lap;
130, 248, GER19830820, FELKEL, Thomas *, GER, – 1 lap;
131, 223, FRA19640212, TOLLITTE, Frederic, FRA, – 1 lap;
132, 243, AUT19780621, PLANK, Roland, AUT, – 1 lap;
133, 206, AUT19820806, THALER, Guido *, AUT, – 1 lap;
134, 176, GER19770620, PRIGGE, Sascha, GER, – 1 lap;
135, 130, GER19750517, KURSCHAT, Wolfram, GER, – 1 lap;
136, 231, NED19770212, VAN BUSSEL, Pascal, NED, – 1 lap;
137, 218, NED19810216, ROELEFS, Martijn *, NED, – 1 lap;
138, 221, BEL19780614, BROEKMANS, Arne, BEL, – 1 lap;
139, 172, BEL19771101, HENDERIECKX, Kris, BEL, – 1 lap;
140, 216, GBR19781019, DUNFORD, Tim, GBR, – 1 lap;
141, 222, VAN DE WALLE, Dirk, NED, – 1 lap;
142, 195, GBR19760711, COOPER, Philip, GBR, – 1 lap;
143, 250, BEL19720205, FAORO, Franck, BEL, – 1 lap;
144, 174, SLO19741002, GRKMAN, Primoz, SLO, – 1 lap;
145, 179, NED19791115, REIJNHOUT, Onno, NED, – 1 lap;
146, 219, AUS19830804, CRAWFORD, Jai *, AUS, – 1 lap;
147, 119, RSA19760702, SWANEPOEL, Ben Melt, RSA, – 1 lap;
148, 225, NED19760225, GILISSEN, Dion, NED, – 2 laps;
149, 226, NOR19800412, SEFLAND, Havard *, NOR, – 2 laps;
150, 143, GRE19830101, KASKANIS, Konstantinos *, GRE, – 2 laps;
151, 247, BEL19820315, MASSAER, Joris *, BEL, – 2 laps;
152, 194, BEL19750528, DE SCHOESITTER, Steve, BEL, – 2 laps;
, 8, ITA19750310, ACQUAROLI, Dario, ITA, DNF;
, 18, SWE19750603, TAVELL, Philip, SWE, DNF;
, 21, GER19700904, BRESSER, Carsten, GER, DNF;
, 23, FRA19811021, FILIPPI, Nicolas *, FRA, DNF;
, 28, CAN19730419, SHEPPARD, Chris, CAN, DNF;
, 34, DEN19800725, ANDERSEN, Peter Riis *, DEN, DNF;
, 36, AUT19760923, BAUER, Siegfried, AUT, DNF;
, 39, NOR19691210, HOYDAHL, Rune, NOR, DNF;
, 40, BEL19800402, COENEN, Davy *, BEL, DNF;
, 42, SUI19700217, FRISCHKNECHT, Thomas, SUI, DNF;
, 50, FRA19760117, MARTINEZ, Miguel, FRA, DNF;
, 54, FRA19781126, RAVANEL, Cedric, FRA, DNF;
, 55, AUT19780617, PRESSLAUER, Peter, AUT, DNF;
, 63, GER19740627, HANISCH, Marc, GER, DNF;
, 64, NED19800616, AL, Thys *, NED, DNF;
, 71, SUI19800312, MANETSCH, Reto *, SUI, DNF;
, 81, IRL19710406, SEYMOUR, Robin, IRL, DNF;
, 82, CZE19731201, KORINEK, Radim, CZE, DNF;
, 85, USA19820226, FERGUSON, Walker *, USA, DNF;
, 86, BEL19790218, TREVISAN, Patrick, BEL, DNF;
, 88, ITA19740206, PALLHUBER, Johann, ITA, DNF;
, 100, GER19820318, SICKMUELLER, Johannes *, GER, DNF;
, 102, SUI19800510, NAF, Ralph *, SUI, DNF;
, 108, SUI19800712, GIRARD, Valentin *, SUI, DNF;
, 114, BEL19750321, GALLE, David, BEL, DNF;
, 115, SUI19810120, WEBER, Balz *, SUI, DNF;
, 121, FRA19781206, LEBRETON, Pierre, FRA, DNF;
, 127, GRE19780802, SIMELIDIS, Kostas, GRE, DNF;
, 129, NOR19800401, STORMO, Lars Petter *, NOR, DNF;
, 131, GRE19780403, KOTOULAS, Emmanouil, GRE, DNF;
, 133, GBR19760723, COLLINS, Dave, GBR, DNF;
, 135, BEL19761101, HANKART, David, BEL, DNF;
, 136, NOR19801005, HOLE, Jostein *, NOR, DNF;
, 138, CZE19780617, DOLEZAL, Tomas, CZE, DNF;
, 151, NOR19840514, NORDHAUG, Lars Petter *, NOR, DNF;
, 153, SWE19750321, SPARR, Henrik, SWE, DNF;
, 158, SUI19820416, GUJAN, Martin *, SUI, DNF;
, 162, BEL19690913, VEN, Peter, BEL, DNF;
, 164, NOR19781026, BOLSTAD, Jorn Espen, NOR, DNF;
, 166, DEN19760214, VESTERLUND, Klaus, DEN, DNF;
, 173, AUT19780411, HAMBERGER, Hannes, AUT, DNF;
, 175, BEL19820513, WIJNANTS, Maarten *, BEL, DNF;
, 184, NED19820515, PIETERSMA, Jelmer *, NED, DNF;
, 186, GBR19770705, LANSLEY, Adrian, GBR, DNF;
, 199, GER19800219, HUG, Marc *, GER, DNF;
, 202, GER19811004, JOERGES, Benjamin *, GER, DNF;
, 203, IRL19750929, MASON, John, IRL, DNF;
, 205, GER19800924, LOSCH, Stefan *, GER, DNF;
, 214, BEL19770309, GAUDY, Patrick, BEL, DNF;
, 224, GAASTRA, RenÈ, NED, DNF;
, 241, ESP19830916, ESTEBAN, Ismael *, ESP, DNF;
, 246, GER19770815, KESSLER, Frank, GER, DNF;
, 197, DEN19820203, KJELDSEN, Jakob *, DEN, DSQ;
, 41, AUT19770630, KIRCHER, Robert, AUT, DNS;
, 117, SUI19770707, FAHRNI, Ludovic, SUI, DNS;
, 192, GBR19770905, OLDHAM, Paul, GBR, DNS;
, 249, BEL19840713, CARION, Arnaud *, BEL, DNS

World Cup Overall Standings; After 2 of 5 events; 1. Brentjens, 400 points; 2. Paulissen, 370; 3. Sauser, 340; 4. Green, 330; 5. Meirhaeghe, 265; 6. Hermida, 235; 7. Fumic, 220; 8. Absalon, 170; 9. Dubau, 137; 10. Fruet, 133; Other North Americans; 15. McGrath, 112; 17. Madrigal, 108; 18. Hesjedal, 107; 19. Barriga, 101; 20. Wells, 97; 49. Sheppard, 48; 78. Zacarias, 21