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By VeloNews Interactive
Volvo-Cannondale’s Anne-Caroline Chausson demonstrated her continuing mastery of downhill racing in Japan Sunday, when the champion made it five-for-five for the season and three-for-three at the Arai ski resort. France also came out on top in the men’s competition, as Nicolas Vouilloz (Vouilloz Racing Team), finally uncorked one in the 2001 World Cup season, and uncork one he did, winning by a huge margin of nearly seven seconds.
Arai Mountain & Snow Park celebrated the return of World Cup downhill mountain-biking for the third time since 1998, bringing out crowds by the tens of thousands in a weekend where unseasonably hot weather had souvenir fans — and real fans — waving in the hot summer sun.
Missy Giove (Global Racing Team) was the fastest women’s qualifier, determined to somehow get past Chausson this season, encouraged that the French dominator was only third-fastest in the morning session. But the finals award 200 points compared to the 50 up for grabs in qualifying, and Giove could only shave a second off her time — while Chausson lopped off nearly seven for the win, keeping Giove second on the day and the series overall.
Vouilloz wasn’t threatened by anyone Sunday, as he qualified fastest, finished fastest and became the only man this season to earn all 250 points for a round (finals and qualifying). The absence of the injured Steve Peat (Team GT), former series leader, combined with the fact that current leader Fabien Barel (Team GT) crashed out of contention, makes the 6.4 seconds separating Vouilloz from the field less remarkable than the feeling he had doing it. Barel still managed to finish 11th to remain the overall leader.
Behind Nico, Australian Sean McCarroll (Global Racing Team) surprised many with his career-best finish. The 8th-fastest qualifier sat squirming in the hot seat during the finals while rider after rider failed to oust him from the top spot.… Until, that is, Vouilloz roared across the finish. Behind Vouilloz, another Aussie, Michael Ronning (Intense), also posted his career-best in third, while South African Greg Minnaar (Global Racing Team) matched his Vancouver finish for another career-best fourtth place.
Teams packed their bags Sunday night, and got ready for one of the half-dozen shuttle buses to the airport that begin at 2 a.m. Monday morning. Meanwhile, team managers prepare to bite the bullet on huge excess baggage fees at Tokyo airport, as the traveling circus heads to Switzerland for next weekend’s World Cup triple in Leysin.
TISSOT-UCI WORLD CUP DOWNHILL SERIES NO. 5, Arai, Japan. July 29.;
Women: 1. Anne-Caroline Chausson (F), Volvo-Cannondale), 4:52; 2. Missy Giove (USA), Global Racing Team), 1.95;3. Sabrina Jonnier (F), RSP Import Intense, at 7.93; 4. Fionn Griffiths (GB), Ancillotti Zeal, at 8.01; 5. Leigh Donovan (USA), Schwinn, at 8.62; 6. Marielle Saner (Swi),Team Global Racing, at 10.24; 7. Katja Repo (Fin), Team GT, at 11.66; 8. April Lawyer (USA), Maxxis, at 26.40; 9. Kathy Pruitt (USA), Dirtworks, at 26.54; 10. Mio Suemasa (Jpn), Team GT Japan, at 27.86.;
Men: 1. Nicolas Vouilloz (F), Vouilloz Racing Team, 4:19; 2. Sean McCarroll (Aus),Global Racing Team, at 6.47; 3. Michael Ronning (AUS), Intense, at 8.55; 4. Greg Minnaar (SA), Global Racing Team, at 8.96; 5. Mickael Pascal (F), Be-One Team, at 9.02; 6. Cedric Gracia (F), Volvo-Cannondale, at 9.31; 7. Nathan Rennie (Aus), Yeti-Pearl Izumi, at 10.17; 8. Oscar Saiz (Sp), Be-One, at 11.59; 9. Eric Carter (USA), Mongoose, at 11.75; 10. Rich Houseman (USA), Tomac, at 12.07.
Women: 1. Chausson, 1220; 2. Giove, 935; 3. Griffiths, 706.’
Men: 1. Fabian Barel (F), GT, 834; 2. Vouilloz, 788; 3. Pascal, 570.