The season may not be completely over for the pro racers campaigning
the Tissot-UCI Mountain Bike World Cup – but for two riders the long summer is drawing
closer to a definitive end. Defending world cup champions Anne-Caroline Chausson (FRA,
Volvo-Cannondale) and Nicolas Vouilloz (FRA, Vouilloz Racing Team)
ensured a repeat championship this weekend in Austria, when they won round seven
and put themselves out of reach in the overall points race.
Nicolas Vouilloz (FRA, Vouilloz Racing Team) may have 50 fewer
points than Chausson in the overall series with 1600 total, but his race for the
championship was even more assured than his female counterpart’s. Where Chausson
has Giove just 260 points behind her, Vouilloz leads runner-up Steve Peat
(GBR, Team GT) by a solid 365 points – even though the men’s overall race
was heated and Vouilloz has struggled several times this season.
He was determined to finish ahead of Peat today as well, after
losing the European Championships to him two weeks ago. He qualified 6th fastest
on Sunday morning, and Peat qualified 4th-fastest … setting up an exciting final
Vouilloz overtook the leader’s hotseat from Greg Minnaar
(RSA, Animal Orange) with a time of 5:34.31, then sat down frustrated and
waited for the next riders. His frustration stemmed from a less-than-spectacular
run, where he went off the course.
Steve Peat soon came down the mountain and nearly beat Vouilloz
with a time of 5:34.49 – but was one-tenth of a second slower. At that point Vouilloz
said to his girlfriend "coupe de monde," noting that the overall
championship was now assured.
But the race wasn’t quite over, as three more men remained.
David Vazquez (ESP, Subaru-Specialized) flew down the mountain and
also posted a time of 5:34, but was 0.42 of a second slower than Vouilloz. The final
two riders and top qualifiers, Mickael Pascal (FRA, Be-One) and Bas
DeBever (NED, Be-One) couldn’t match their times, making the top three
Vouilloz, Peat and Vazquez respectively.
Interestingly, all three of the top men noted that they had
problems in their final runs, each noting how they went off course and nearly crashed.
It illustrates just how close world cup downhilling is – be it on a short course
like Les Gets or a long course such as Kaprun. It proved lucky for Vouilloz. "I’m
surprised to win today honestly," he said. "I made a very bad mistake
at the top – very bad – and went off the track. But I tried to go hard after that
and do my best. To beat Steve today I knew I had to ride at the maximum without mistake.
So I’m sure he had a problem in his run also."
Peat affirmed that suspicion, waxing philosophical about his
season’s end. "I had a horrible run, and made a couple mistakes. But I pedaled
on and was doing well until the bottom, when I slid out a bit on the last hard turn.
I think that lost me the race. You look at the times and it’s amazing how close we
all are on a course this long. I wanted to win the overall this season, but I guess
that will have to wait until next year."
For Vazquez, third place was good enough, especially considering
the circumstances. "In the third turn I almost crashed. It was very bumpy
and I went off the track. But I rode hard to get a good time, and I suffered so much.
The course is so fast, and I’m very happy to finish third. I was sick last week also,
so it’s nice to do well today."
Top-qualifier Bas DeBever (NED, Be-One) finished
4th for the day, while young Greg Minnaar (RSA, Animal Orange) – "The fresh
prince of big air" – rounded out the podium in 5th place to match his best
result earlier this season in Vail.
|place||name||nom||nat||tt / gs||t||t+||points|
|VOUILLOZ||Nicolas||FRA||VOUILLOZ RACING TEAM||5:34.31|
|DE BEVER||Bas||NED||BE-ONE TEAM||5:38.07|
|CARRICK-ANDERSON||Crawford||GBR||GIANT/TOYOTA UK TEAM||5:48.35|
|BEAUMONT||Scott||GBR||TEAM KONA FORD FOCUS||6:08.70|
Anne-Caroline Chausson (FRA, Volvo-Cannondale)
and American rival Missy Giove (Foes/Azonic) have been battling
hard all season for the overall title, as Chausson has won three consecutive races
– and five of the seven thus far. Giove was the last person to beat her back at Mont
Sainte-Anne, and was hoping for some of the luck that took her to overall championships
in seasons past.
But this season Chausson seemed destined for the crystal globe
trophy, as she won Sunday’s race in Kaprun and brought her lead over Giove to 260
points – an insurmountable lead.
Giove made a good run of it to finish second this weekend,
but made perhaps one mistake too many to beat Chausson’s time in her final run. After
qualifying third-fastest, Giove posted a time of 6:23, overtaking Leigh Donovan
(USA, Schwinn/Toyota) for the hotseat by approximately five seconds after
Donovan had spent a long time waiting for someone to beat her run of 6:28.
"My run was good," Giove said "But
I hit my rear tyre so hard at one point – I was all over the course, hitting banners
and the tape. But I recovered and it was OK."
After Giove sat down in the hotseat, it was current European
Champion Tracy Moseley (GBR, Kona/Ford Focus) on course, hoping to
follow-up on a second-place semi-final run. But she lost control and crashed only
metres from the finishline, losing precious seconds and hopes of the podium as well.
Top-seeded Chausson then came flying down the mountain as the
final competitor, beating Giove’s time by nearly six seconds and winning yet another
world cup event this season.
"After the semi-final I thought to go hard again and
maintain my time – but it was so hard in the woods to have perfect lines, and I worked
on having good pedaling," said Chausson. "It was a good weekend
for sure. Especially during training, there were big jumps on the bottom of the run
and that was fun."
It’s been a long season for Chausson, who has won all four
titles this year for the first time ever. She is World Champion in downhill and dual,
and after the finals will be world cup champion in downhill and dual as well.
"It’s been a long season, and after Worlds I know I
had trouble motivating," she added. "So when I get up in the morning
before a race it’s OK – I can eat because I don’t care as much – I say it’s OK because
I’ve done my job. Everyone around me can see I’m not really stressed for this world
cup, but it works – it’s better for me."
For third place Donovan, it was a good run – considering. "I
had a couple bobbles, but I’m happy with my run," she said. "When
I saw Chausson’s time in qualifying I knew I didn’t have it in me today to do a 6:25,
so I just hoped for a 6:30. And I beat that, so that’s good."
The womens’ field was small, with just 35 women vying for 30
starting positions. They raced in perfect weather conditions on the 4.3 km Kaprun
|place||name||nom||nat||tt / gs||t||t+||points|
|DONOVAN||Leigh||USA||SCHWINN TOYOTA RAV 4||6:28.92|
|SANER||Marielle||SUI||HOT CHILI TEAM||6:33.27|
|MOSELEY||Tracy||GBR||TEAM KONA FORD FOCUS||6:35.13|
|VAN MEERBECK||Karen||GBR||GIANT TOYOTA DH||6:56.32|