Pietermaritzburg, South Africa hosted the first round of the 2011 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup presented by Shimano, with the XC, DH and 4X disciplines contested, one of the few dates on the calendar where the three sports take place over the same weekend.
With the Olympics close on the horizon the competition in the XC is expected to be intense this year as the racers prepare themselves in this final year, while some will be hoping to ensure their spot on the starting line in London.
In the men’s racing there will be renewed rivalry between France’s Julien Absalon (Orbea) and the 2010 World Cup Champion from Switzerland, Nino Schurter (Scott-Swisspower), while Spain’s Jose Hermida (Multivan Merida), who won the opening round the last time the race was in Pietermaritzburg, will wear the rainbow stripes of the World Champion through the year.
“Again, it was a great fight between Julien and me,” said Nino Schurter after the race. “We are so close, but I was a little faster in the technical section and was able to get a gap, which I could hold to the finish line. It is always special to win against Julien.”
For the women, Canada’s Catharine Pendrel (Luna) will start the year with the number one plate, however, she faces strong competition from Americans Willow Koerber (Trek World Racing) and Georgia Gould (Luna), as well as Italy’s Eva Lechner (Colnago Arreghini Sudtirol) and Russia’s Irina Kalentieva (Topeak Ergon). The XC will also introduce, for the first time, separate World Cup races for the Under-23 categories.
However, it was Chinese star Ren Chengyuan, returning to the women’s field after a nearly two season absence, who let everyone know she was back with a vengeance, sprinting up from near the back of the field to take the victory, and don the leader’s jersey. Last year’s Under 23 champion, Julie Bresset (BH-Suntour-Peisey Vallandry) clearly has made the move to the elite ranks with a silver medal performance, while Irina Kalentieva (Topeak Ergon) of Russia just beat 2010 World Cup champion Catharine Pendrel of Canada for third place.
Ren was surprised with her victory, commenting: “I did not expect to win. I started far back, and the start was very fast. It was hard to pass at the beginning, but then it began to open up and I could move forward.”
Top British finishers were Liam Killeen in 27th and Annie Last in 20th.
- 1 SCHURTER Nino SUI19860513 SCOTT-SWISSPOWER MTB-RACING 1:34:50
- 2 ABSALON Julien FRA19800816 ORBEA +00:16
- 3 KULHAVY Jaroslav CZE19850108 SPECIALIZED RACING +01:07
- 4 HERMIDA RAMOS José Antonio ESP19780824 MULTIVAN MERIDA BIKING TEAM +01:15
- 5 FONTANA Marco Aurelio ITA19841012 CANNONDALE FACTORY RACING +01:46
- 6 FUMIC Manuel GER19820330 CANNONDALE FACTORY RACING +01:48
- 7 LEJARRETA ERRASTI Inaki ESP19830901 ORBEA +01:51
- 8 TEMPIER Stéphane FRA19860305 TX ACTIVE BIANCHI +01:54
- 9 COLOMA NICOLAS Carlos ESP19810928 WILDWOLF-TREK RACING +02:33
- 10 WELLS Todd USA19751225 SPECIALIZED RACING +02:36
- 27 KILLEEN Liam GBR19820412 GIANT FACTORY OFF-ROAD TEAM +05:59
- 1 REN Chengyuan CHN19860920 SPECIALIZED RACING 1:32:36
- 2 BRESSET Julie FRA19890609 BH-SUNTOUR-PEISEY VALLANDRY +01:06
- 3 KALENTIEVA Irina RUS19771110 TOPEAK ERGON RACING TEAM +02:18
- 4 PENDREL Catharine CAN19800930 LUNA PRO TEAM +02:44
- 5 BYBERG Lene NOR19821125 SPECIALIZED RACING +03:16
- 6 SCHNEITTER Nathalie SUI19860619 COLNAGO ARREGHINI SUDTIROL +05:01
- 7 SPITZ Sabine GER19711227 CENTRAL HAIBIKE PRO TEAM +05:18
- 8 WLOSZCZOWSKA Maja POL19831109 CCC POLKOWICE +05:26
- 9 PREMONT Marie-Helene CAN19771024 TEAM MAXXIS-ROCKY MOUNTAIN +05:33
- 10 OSL Elisabeth AUT19851121 GHOST FACTORY RACING TEAM +05:57
- 20 LAST Annie GBR19900907 +08:40