The final round of the UCI World Cup concluded in Val di Sole, Italy, with Julie Bresset and Jaroslav Kulhavy claiming the overall titles in what has been an exciting year of racing.
Julie Bresset wins women’s title. Catharine Pendrel a close second
Julie Bresset claimed the women’s title, but the race to the title was a close fraught thing, as her closest rival Catharine Pendrel brought the gap right down. Bresset saw her lead in the standings drop from 190 points to 40 after three consecutive victories by Pendrel, including victory in Italy, but it was enough for the young French rider to take her first World Cup title in the Elite ranks.
Pendrel came into the final race 140 points behind Bresset, and decided to attack from the start. “I figured I had nothing to lose, so I just went hard for the whole race,” she explained.
By the start of the second lap it was just Pendrel and Bresset, and the Canadian dropped her French rival on the steep climbs. Bresset was struggling with the heat and the climbs, and first Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa Multivan Merida) bridged up and dropped her, and then world champion Maja Wloszczowska (CCC Polkowice) did the same, joining Dahle Flesjaa.
Wloszczowska, dropped Dahle Flesjaa in the final half lap, and took second place, establishing herself as a strong contender to retain her rainbow jersey, while Dahle Flesjaa, taking her second World Cup podium in two weeks with third has also moved into the ranks of possible champions.
Bresset saw her lead in the standings drop from 190 points to 40 after two consecutive victories by Pendrel, but it was enough for the young French rider to take her first World Cup title in the Elite ranks.
Irina Kalentieva (Topeak Ergon) finished third, just 20 points ahead of Marie-Helene Premont (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain), with Eva Lechner (Colnago Farbe Sudtirol) rounding out the podium.
Jaroslav Kulhavy continues dominant performance to claim overall honours
Jaroslav Kulhavy is proving to be unbeatable, as he took his fifth win in seven races at the Elite Men’s World Cup final. Kulhavy fended off a strong challenge by the Swiss duo of Nino Schurter and Florian Vogelto outsprint Schurter for the win.
In previous World Cup races this year Kulhavy had attacked early, riding away from the rest of the field. This time, he allowed Schurter and Vogel to set the pace over the six laps, content to follow them up the steep climbs, but never looking to be in difficulty.
The trio dropped Julien Absalon (Orbea) by the second lap, and the Frenchman chased in vain all race, eventually finishing fourth. Behind Absalon, a chase group formed, but this group steadily lost ground, and started shedding riders as the race wore on, with Lukas Flückiger (Trek World Racing) eventually dropping the remaining members to take the fifth and final podium spot.
In the front trio, Vogel was finally dropped on the fifth lap, leaving Schurter to try and ditch Kulhavy, without success. Kulhavy attacked in the final kilometre and easily outsprinted Schurter, popping a wheely as he crossed the line.
“He was playing with us,” commented Schurter, a little bitterly. “I tried to attack, but he just sat on, and I could not drop him. I will have to think about what I can do in the next two weeks, to be able to beat him at the Worlds, but it will be hard.”
“I am very happy to have won the World Cup,” said Kulhavy, “but I am surprised that I was able to ride so well on a course with so much climbing. This has been a perfect season for me.”
Kulhavy finishes the series with five firsts, one second and a third, for a total of 1610 points. Schurter is a distant second, with 1270 and Absalon holds onto third with 960 points. Hermida took four with 813 points, just squeaking ahead of Maxime Marotte (BH-Suntour-Peisey Vallandry) at 810.
Annie Last flies the British flag with another 10th place finish
Flying the flag for the British contenders, Annie Last confirmed her improving form this season with a second top ten result in the World Cup.
The British Cycling Olympic Academy athlete followed her fantastic 6th place at the last round of the UCI World Cup and a silver medal in the under-23 European Championships recently, with a 10th place in Italy.
The ride confirmed her status as the best young female cross-county mountain biker racer in the UK. She has shown consistent form in her first full World Cup season, and she’s still an under-23 athelete. She’s shown much promise and is a name to watch a the London 2012 Olympics.
Of the other British riders Liam Killeen ended his season with a 28th finish. Young gun Kenta Gallagher place inside the top 30 in the under-23 race, showing cracking good form for someone fresh out of the junior ranks.