By Chris Milliman, Special to VeloNews.com
Theonly thing that came close to ending Gunn-Rita Dahle’s World Cup winningstreak was one of the Mont-Sainte-Anne course’s many tight, technical singletracksections. But Dahle (Merida) overcame a second-lap endo to crush the 87-riderfield, just like she’d done in the first two World Cup stops.
The30-year-old Dahle led from the gun, gapping the field on the first of fivelaps, her closest pursuers were her own teammates Sabine Spitz and IrinaKalentieva. On the second lap, however, Dahle went over the bars and landedon her side in the dusty singletrack.
“Iwasn’t worried about me,” said Dahle, “I was worried that I’d done somethingto my bike.”
Unfortunatelyfor the rest of the field Dahle’s bike suffered only a few dings and shewent back to work, opening her gap every subsequent lap. The defendingworld champ crossed the finish almost two minutes ahead of Spitz, whileKalentieva dropped back allowing Barbara Blatter to replace her in third.
AmericanWillow Koerber (RLX Ralph Lauren) was on the ride of her life, holdingseventh through the first three laps, when she crashed hard on one of thesteep technical descents. While not seriously hurt, Keorber banged herhead and took a few minutes to gather her wits, pushing her back to aneventual 17th place finish.
Ifthe course almost got the better of Dahle, it proved the undoingof two-time defending world champion Roland Green. Green (Trek-Volkswagen)suffered a rear flat at the end of the second lap, dislodging him fromthe lead he’d established in the first two trips around the six-kilometercourse.
Green’sflat opened the door for Julien Absalon (Bianchi-Motorex). The Frenchmandropped Christophe Sauser (Siemens-Cannondale) on the final climb and wonhis first World Cup of 2003. Green eventually chased back and caught everyoneexcept Sauser and Absalon, taking a spectacular third in front of a partisancrowd.
“Weheard [Roland] was coming back,” said Absalon. “I told [Christopher] wehad to go faster. So he attacked at the bottom of the climb and then Iattacked on the top.”
Farfrom moping about his bad luck, Green said the result, while not exactlywhat he was looking for, confirmed that his form is coming around.
Followingup the frightening crash by downhill pro Johnny Waddell yesterday. TheAussie rider reportedly remains unconscious in an area hospital, thoughteammates say he is responding to stimulus.
1.Gunn-Rita Dahle (NOR), Merida, 1:51.43
2.Sabine Spitz (GER), Merida, 1:53.31
3.Barbara Blatter (SWI), Specialized, 1:53.46
4.Irina Kalentieva (RUS), Merida, 1:54.12
5.Marie-Helene Premont (CAN), Onyx, 1:54.49
6.Jimena Florit (ARG), RLX Ralph Lauren, 1:55.19
7.Chrissy Redden (CAN), Luna, 1:55.34
8.Alison Sydor (CAN), Trek-Volkswagen, 1:56.23
9.Sue Haywood (USA), Trek-Volkswagen, 1:56.43
10.Laurence Leboucher (FRA), French Team, 1:57.18
1.Julien Absalon (FRA), Motorex-Bianchi, 1:51.20
2.Christophe Sauser (SWI), Siemens-Cannondale, 1:52.07
3.Roland Green (CAN), Trek-Volkswagen, 1:52.17
4.Jose Antonio Hermida (ESP) Motorex-Bianchi, same time
5.Lado Fumic (GER), T-Mobile, 1:52.50
6.Roel Paulisson (BEL), Siemens-Cannondale, 1:54.42
7.Christophe Dupouey (FRA), 1:54.51
8.Bart Brentjens (NED), T-Mobile, 1:55.25
9.Carsten Bresser (GER), T-Mobile, 1:55.43
10.Ryder Hesjedal (CAN), Subaru-Gary Fisher, 1:56.01