Carter Snatches Dual World Series!
The women's Dual World Series win was a walkover for Katrina Miller (AUS), but the men's title was unexpectedly taken by Eric Carter (USA) with series leader Brian Lopes (USA) on the sidelines, kept out by an ankle injury sustained last week at Bromont.
The final heat men's of the 1999 Swatch-UCI Dual World Series was not quite what would have been expected. Eric Carter, 29, was lined up against longtime friend and rival Mike King (USA). Series leader Brian Lopes (USA) stood on the sidelines wondering how it had all gone wrong. Two rounds ago, at Mont-Sainte-Anne, despite a bad race he had ended the weekend with a comfortable series lead of 65 points over Carter.
But Carter got on a roll with his win at Mont-Sainte-Anne. He then finished second at Bromont the week later, when Lopes collected only 5 series points, and at Kaprun he needed to finish third or better to pass Lopes and win his first world title. This weekend the pressure was on, and Carter explained, "I was really nervous in the start house. There was this crying baby and it was getting on my nerves. But I just blocked it out. I came through in the clutch," he said.
Carter injured his ankle at round 2, at Maribor, Slovenia, but then recovered sufficiently to find form in the second half of the 1999 dual series. Despite racing with a heavily strapped ankle, which would not receive the full medical treatment it needed until the end of the season, he finished second or won in the closing five rounds of the eight-round series. His consistency paid off with a big win Saturday in front of 5,000 cheerin fans and one crying baby at Kaprun, in the centre of Austria. "My good riding is what won the World Cup," said Carter. "It sucks for Brian (Lopes), but someone's got to capitalize on it. I've had my own injuries and I just wrote the first part of the season off. I don't think I made a mistake all day."
Carter faced a relativey easy field in Saturday's dual finals. Many of the top riders skipped the event to save their energy for Sunday's downhill final. With Lopes out of the action, still recovering from an ankle injury suffered during training in Bromont, Carter posted the fastest qualifying time. He easily beat Javier Echevarria, Andy Bueler and Robin Kitchin en-route to a semi-finals showdown with Cedric Gracia, a Frenchman riding on Lopes' Volvo-Cannondale team.
Gracia was smooth and fast, but Carter edged the flambouyant Frenchman to move up to the finals while Gracia later won the consolation round. "Cedric kept it clean. There are a couple of guys that you know you've got a bull's eye on your ass. But we know who they are. I got out of the gate and got through that first turn. There was no way there was going to be anyone who was going to beat me to that line. If they were going to pass me, they were going to have to pass me on the bottom," Carter said.
Although the final rounds were clean and smooth, earlier in the evening there was some wild action on the tight, technical course. Michel Joseph (SUI) and Glynn O'Brien got their bikes tangled in an early round and Tim Ponting (GBR) got past Claudio Caluori (ITA) after a similar crash left Caluori's handlebars bent. Czech rider Michal Marosi had some great rounds, edging Karim Amour (FRA) by a hair in the quarter finals.
In the semis against King, Marosi dramatically passed the American on the lower section of the course. But King had the right gear selection and squirted by Marosi in a sprint.
In the women's draw, it was all Katrina Miller (AUS), who won her second-straight dual over Leigh Donovan (USA) in the finals to win her seventh round of the season. It most likely would have been eight out of eight for the 23 years-old from Sydney, but when training for the downhill in Round 5 at Squaw Valley, USA, she injured her ankle and could not compete in the dual. The win at Kaprun was icing on the cake because the Australian had already sewn up her second straight Dual World Cup title before coming into the final round. "You never know what's going to happen on a course like this. I just pedaled my bum off to reach the finish," said Miller.
Miller used her trademark aerial skills to fly past Donovan high on the course. Donovan got the inside line but Miller, a former BMX champion, simply flew past her and held the lead to the bottom. "I backed off a bit because Leigh had taken my berm and I wanted a clean look at the line. I have enough confidence to know I'm going to pull something like that off," Miller said. "It was extra special to win. I had a little bit of a cold today."
There had been some rumour that the French downhill star Anne- Caroline Chausson might compete in the Kaprun dual, but she opted not to in order to focus on the donwhill final.