Tuesday May 24, 2011

UCI XCO sees 3 new leaders after round 2

Round two of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup presented by Shimano saw new riders don the leader's jersey in each of the three cross-country races that took place on Sunday. The Dalby Forest track proved to be tougher than many riders had anticipated. However, Julie Bresset (BH-Suntour-Peisey Vallandry) and Jaroslav Kulhavy (Specialized Racing) took strong solo victories in the Elite Women and Elite Men categories, while Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (Lapierre International) rode away from the rest of the Under-23 women's field to win her event.

The five lap women's race (full replay right here) saw round one winner Ren Chengyuan (Specialized Racing) jump into an early lead after the start loop, with Bresset leading the chase. Bresset was joined by defending World Cup Champion Catharine Pendrel (Luna Pro Team), World Champion Maja Wloszczowska (CCC Polkowice), Lene Byberg (Specialized Racing) and Nathalie Schneitter (Colnago Arreghini Sudtirol).

The young French rider bridged up to Ren on the second lap, and the pair worked together to distance themselves from the chase group. Going into the last lap, Ren had a slight gap on Bresset, and appeared to be on her way to a second consecutive win. However, the Chinese rider inexplicably slowed in the final kilometres, allowing Bresset to ride away to her first World Cup victory, and the overall series lead.

"I was very surprised when Ren slowed down," agreed Bresset, "but I did not wait, I just went! It is very special to win my first World Cup, and to win the leader's jersey, and I did not expect this. I will just do my best now to keep it."

In the Under 23 women's race, Ferrand-Prevot was clearly the strongest, leading from the first lap and setting the fastest lap times every lap. Kathrin Stirnemann (Central Haibike) finished second, and Barbara Benko (Focus-MIG) took third. Benko also took the lead in the Under 23 World Cup standings, since neither of the first two riders participated in round one.

The men's six lap race (watch the full replay here) was a one man show, with Kulhavy already in the lead after the start loop. A chase group formed behind, with Marco Fontana and his Cannondale team mate Manuel Fumic doing much of the work. Round one winner Nino Schurter (Scott Swisspower MTB Racing), who won at Dalby last year, was having an uncharacteristically off day, and struggled even to stay with the group.

Julien Absalon (Orbea), after a poor start that saw him well back on the start loop, chased back to the group and immediately went to the front, but Kulhavy was gone. Absalon dropped the rest of the chase group on the second lap, and chased hard on the next two laps, but could only close to within 20 seconds of Kulhavy and, by lap four, was losing ground to the big Czech rider. Fontana outkicked Maxime Marotte (BH-Suntour-Peisey Vallandry) for third, and Fumic took the final podium spot.

"This is a course that suits me," said Kulhavy, who took the World Cup lead from Schurter, only ten points in front of Absalon. "I knew before the start that this would be a good course for me, and it was my plan to attack right from the start of the race."

The XCO World Cup resumes next weekend in Offenburg, Germany and of course you will be able to watch all the action LIVE on Freecaster, right here.

Channels: UCI MTB World Cup 2011 - Yorkshire, Dalby Forest GBR, UCI MTB World Cup XCO 2011, Mountain Bike