By Lennard Zinn
World champion Marga Fullana led from the first climb of four laps around the tough Sarentino World Cup course. The gap over her Specialized teammate and reigning World Cup champion Barbara Blatter grew steadily from a handful of seconds to over a minute by the end. American Alison Dunlap (GT) rode a steady race, maintaining third place throughout and keeping Blatter within 20-30 seconds until the final lap, when she fell over a minute behind the Swiss wearing the World Cup leader’s jersey. The other North American, Alison Sydor (Trek-Volkswagen), fell steadily back from the top five to finish 10th.
Fullana tumbled once on the course, but that was the only mishap in an otherwise dominating ride. The world champion, whose power is unquestioned but whose technical skills are a bit suspect, was aided by a last-minute course change on a steep technical downhill. She had been among a number of women complaining that the “Hölle” drop was too dangerous, and the pole was moved inward a meter, making a rather heart-stopping drop over some large rocks and roots into a straightforward slither down loose dirt.
Tissot-UCI World Cup Cross Country No. 2, Sarentino, Italy. May 12.
Marga Fullana (Sp), Specialized, 25.75km in 1:26:21 (17.89kph ave.); 2. Barbara Blatter (Swi), Specialized, at 1:14; 3. Alison Dunlap (USA), GT at 2:23; 4. Sabine Spitz (G), Merida at 2:41; 5. Annabella Stropparo (I), Be-One, at 3:10; 6. Larence Leboucher (F), France, at 3:41; 7. Mary Grigson (Aus), Subaru-Gary Fisher, at 4:06; 8. Caroline Alexander, Specialized, at 4:35; 9. Jimena Florit (Arg), RLX-Polo Sport, at 4:48; 10. Alison Sydor (Can), Trek-Volkswagen, at 4:58
11. I. Irina Kalientieva (Rus), Merida, at 5:19; 12. Regine Marunde (G), Focus, at 6:01; 13. Janet Puiggros Miranda (Sp), at 6:17; 14. Corine Dorland (Nl), Be-One, at 7:07; 15. Petra Henzi (Swi), Fischer-K2, at 7:36; 16. Birgit Braumann (A), Merida, at 8:46; 17. Anna Enocsson (S), Swedish Cycling Federation, at 9:11; 18. Chrissy Redden (Can), Subaru-Gary Fisher, at 9:28; 19. Elsbeth Vink (Nl), Specialized, at 10:14; 20. Magdalena Sadlecka (Pol), Lotto PZU, at 10:20; 24. Kelli Emett (USA), GT, at 13:04.
Overall standings after two races
1. Blatter, 450 pts.; 2. Dunlap, 370; 3. Fullana, 250; 4. Sydor, 245; 5. Spitz, 240.