By Kip Mikler , VeloNews Editor
Everyone knows that in World Cup cross-country racing, nothing is more important than the start. On Saturday, for the first time since 1993, a time trial was held to determine starting positions for the Tissot-UCI World Cup opener, scheduled for Sunday at Domaine Chandon winery near Napa, California.
There were winners and there were losers, and at the end of the day Italian Marco Bui and Canadian Chrissy Redden had earned the pole positions.
Bui, riding for AS Marin-Helly Hansen, is best known for being the rider who collided with Cadel Evans before the final descent at the 1999 world under-23 championships and went on to win that title in Sweden. Now, for the first time in his career, Bui will be called to the start line first on Sunday.
The 23-year-old completed one lap of the 4-mile circuit with a time of 13:39, 10 seconds faster than any of the 121 riders in the men’s field.
Joining Bui in the “surprise” category was 20-year-old Canadian Ryder Hesjedal, who finished second, 10 seconds off Bui’s time. Hesjedal, who logged heavy winter miles with fellow Canadian Roland Green, came into this race focused on making the front row. Mission accomplished. Oh, and as for Green, he finished third.
“I want to be the best in the world, you know?” said Hesjedal after beating some impressive names including Miguel Martinez, Cadel Evans, Bart Brenjens and, well…. Everyone in the world.
It was also a good day for Hesjedal’s Gary Fisher squad. All of the team’s riders rode the new Sugar, with a Manitou fork and a Cane Creek rear shock. “I’d be surprised if there’s a better riding bike out there,” Hesjedal said.
His teammate Redden agreed, saying that the full suspension – or the “full squish fish” as Redden called it – was key to a good time on the rocky course.
“It was perfect today because you could still pedal on all the rock sections,” said Redden, who squeaked by GT’s Alison Dunlap by just 0.33 seconds.
While the men’s field saw a shake-up in the typical order, the women’s start will look pretty familiar. Dunlap was followed by defending World Cup champion Barbara Blatter, sporting her new Specialized colors. Sea Otter champion Caroline Alexander was fourth.
WINNERS AND LOSERS:
CANADA: Hesjedal, Green and Haro-Lee Dungarees’ Chris Sheppard (8th) will all be on the front line at Sunday’s start. No other nation (not even France!) will have more than one.
SUBARU-GARY FISHER: Not just because they have those fast new WRX’s to drive. Redden and Hesjedal’s finishs on the rough course bode well for the new Sugar bikes.
HARO-LEE DUNGAREES: Sheppard and Michael Rasmussen (7th) will represent the only team with two men on the front row.
AMERICAN MEN: It’s not getting any better. Travis Brown (Trek-Volkswagen) earned the top spot for U.S. men by finishing 35th.
MIGUEL MARTINEZ: Defending World Cup, world and Olympic champion finished 11th and for the first time in a long time Little Mig won’t be on the front line at the start.
BAS VAN DOOREN: 2000 winner at Napa won’t be on the front line, either. The Dutchman finished 13th.
2001 TISS0T-UCI WORLD CUP SERIES NO. 1, Napa, CA. April 7-8.
Men: 1. Marco Bui (I), AS Marin-Helly Hansen, 4mi in 13:39; 2. Ryder Hesjedal (Can), Subaru-Gary Fisher, 13:49.7; 3. Roland Green (Can), Trek-Volkswagen, 13:54.0; 4. Bart Brentjens (Nl), Giant, 13:55.4; 5. Cadel Evans (Aus), Volvo-Cannondale, 13:57.8; 6. Ludovic Dubau (F), Orbea, 13:59.2; 7. Michael Rasmussen (Dk), Haro-Lee Dungaree, 14:00.0; 8. Chris Sheppard (Can), Haro-Lee Dungaree, 14:00.7; 9. Jose Antonio Hermida (Sp), Bianchi, 14:00.9; 10. Christophe Dupouey (F), Giant, 14:01.9.
Women: 1. Chrissy Redden (Can), Subaru-Gary Fisher, 4mi in 16:39.4; 2. Alison Dunlap (USA), GT, 16:39.7; 3. Barbara Blatter (Swi), Specialized, 16:52.1; 4. Caroline Alexander (GB), Specialized, 16:53.5; 5. Jimena Florit (Arg), RLX Polo Sport, 16:53.8; 6. Annabella Stropparo (I), Be One, 16:57.1; 7. Sabina Spitz (G), Merida, 16:58.7; 8. Alison Sydor (Can), Trek-Volkswagen, 17:02.2; 9. Corine Dorland (Nl), Be-One, 17:02.9; 10. Regina Marunde (G), Focus, 17:03.24