By VeloNews Interactive
And then there was one. With just one World Cup downhill now remaining on the calendar, the competition was heated on Saturday as riders scrambled for points — and slid their way down a muddy mountainside in Kaprun, Austria. It’s round seven of the Tissot-UCI Mountain Bike World Cup this weekend, and it’s a triple.
South Africa’s Greg Minnaar (Global Racing Team) had the most to celebrate, winning his — and the African continent’s — first World Cup victory ever, the highest step of his season-long podium appearances. While Anne-Caroline Chausson (Volvo-Cannondale) didn’t surprise anyone with her sixth win of the season, she showed that she is the dominator of mountain bike racing as she locked up the season with one race to spare.
Minnaar beat second-place Cedric Gracia (Volvo-Cannondale) of France by less than a second, after qualifying fastest in the semi-final and coming last down the still-slippery mountain. Gracia qualified fourth-fastest and was awaiting Minnaar’s arrival in the hotseat, wearing a skinless muscle skinsuit — made famous by Mario Cippolini at this summer’s Giro.
France’s Nicolas Vouilloz (Vouilloz Racing Team) still holds on to his World Cup series lead after finishing third, but Minnaar moves up to second overall and is just 28 points behind Vouilloz. Nico crashed during his run — as he has several times this season — creating what promises to be an exciting final round two weeks from now at Mont Sainte-Anne, Quebec.
Chausson also keeps France in the downhill championship lead, but her season is now a lock as she leads American veteran Missy Giove (Global Racing Team) by an insurmountable lead. Giove crashed on the final turn before the finish for fifth place, although she was not on pace for the win today.
Chausson won on this her least-favorite course one week after her season’s only loss in Leysin, also winning the semi-final, and then beating British power Tracy Moseley (Team Kona-Ford Focus) by a huge 9.45 seconds in the final. Moseley had qualified fourth-fastest and thus spent some time in the hot seat, which wasn’t hot at all as the women had a light rain and plenty of mud with which to contend on their way down the long, 4.3km course.
In the nighttime dual race under the lights, American Brian Lopes (Fox/GT) narrowly held off a talented newcomer Czech Republic rider named Michal Prokop (Specialized 69 Distributor) to lock up the World Cup title late into the night. Australian Katrina Miller (Jamis) beat American Leigh Donovan (Schwinn) in the women’s division, but won’t likely catch Donovan in the overall.
In consolation racing, Aussie Wade Bootes (Trek-Volkswagen) beat England’s Scott Beaumont (Kona/Ford Focus), while on the women’s side American Tara Llanes (Yeti/Pearl Izumi) winning over Finland’s Katja Repo (Team GT).
Saturday’s dual course was the longest ever seen on the World Cup, taking top-qualifier Lopes a full 51 seconds to complete. Starting way up the hill from the finish (a five-minute shuttle ride), the track featured several good turns and jumps, but also soft dirt made spongy by the rains. Riders were exhausted by the end of the final, which didn’t take place until nearly 11:00 p.m. And they weren’t through yet, as the dual riders have one more round of racing this weekend on Sunday.
TISSOT-UCI WORLD CUP NO. 7, Kaprun, Austria. August 11-12.
1. Greg Minnaar (SA), Global Racing, in 6:06; 2. Cedric Gracia (F), Volvo-Cannondale, at 0.89; 3. Nicolas Vouilloz (F), Vouilloz Racing, at 3.42; 4. Steve Peat (GB), Team GT, at 7.49; 5. Tomas Misser (Sp), Real Federacion Espanola, at 9.04; 6. Cyril Lagneau (F), Taillefer Bicycles, at 12.01; 7. David Vazquez Lopez (Sp), Giant, at 13.99; 8. Mickael Pascal (F), Be-One Team, at 16.04; 9. Michel Marosi (Cz), Author RB Skoda Auto, at 18.03; 10. Pau Misser (Sp), Real Federacion Espanola, at 18.08;
Top North Americans:;
13. Eric Carter (USA), Mongoose-Hyundai, at 20.20; 27. Kirt Voreis (USA), Haro-Lee Dungarees, at 28.61
1. Anne-Caroline Chausson (F), Volvo-Cannondale, in 7:01; 2. Tracy Moseley (GB), Team Kona-Ford Focus, at 9.45; 3. Sabrina Jonnier (F), RSP Import Intense, at 10.76; 4. Fionn Griffiths (GB), Ancillotti Zeal, at 12.29; 5. Missy Giove (USA), Global Racing Team, at 18.50; 6. Katja Repo (Fin) Team GT, at 18.71; 7. Marielle Saner (Swi), Team Global Racing, at 19.02; 8. Leigh Donovan (USA), Schwinn, at 22.65; 9. Tara Llanes (USA), Yeti-Pearl Izumi, at 30.09; 10. Sandra Walker (Swi), Switzerland, at 39.97.;
Downhill overall standings;
1. Vouilloz: 1040;
2. Minnaar: 1012;
3. Pascal: 905;
4. Barel: 834;
5. Gracia: 721;
1. Chausson: 1670;
2. Giove: 1205;
3. Repo: 972;
4. Donovan: 932;
5. Griffiths: 914;
1. Brian Lopes (USA), Fox/GT; 2. Michal Prokop (Cz), Specialized 69 Distributor; 3. Wade Bootes (Aus), Trek-Volkswagen; 4. Scott Beaumont (GB), Kona-Ford Focus;
1. Katrina Miller (Aus), Jamis; 2. Leigh Donovan (USA), Schwinn; 3. Tara Llanes (USA), Yeti-Pearl Izumi; 4. Katja Repo (Fin), Team GT;
Dual overall standings
1. Lopes: 280;
2. Bootes: 155;
3. Carter: 128;
4. Deldycke: 121;
5. Gracia: 117;
1. Donovan: 250;
2. Miller: 185;
3. Llanes: 135;
4. Chausson: 120;
5. Jonnier: 112;