Chausson and Barel Give France Double DH Win|
Wednesday, July 25, 2001
CLICK HERE FOR A SLIDE SHOW Photography by Karen Johanson
The Tissot-UCI Mountain Bike World Cup continued its exciting 2001 season this weekend, as a "triple" event took place on the lush green mountains above Vancouver, B.C., Canada. Overlooking the city of two million residents, Grouse Mountain played host to all world cup disciplines of mountain bike racing; downhill, dual as well as cross-country.
Saturday was reserved for downhill and dual action, and huge crowds made their way up the mountain to see the world's best gravity all-stars compete.
Fabien Barel (FRA, Team GT) won his career's second world cup Saturday afternoon, immediately dedicating his victory to injured teammate Steve Peat (GBR, Team GT), who until today wore the #1 plate but separated his shoulder in a training accident on Thursday. Barel was ranked second going into this race and, with his win, overtakes the top position after an amazingly close race.
Barel was riding injured, having cut his leg during training - an injury that required 24 stitches. "My leg is tight," he commented "But when I'm racing - forget it!". Barel rode through the pain to earn the narrowest of victories.
"I tried to pedal whenever I could and take the maximum risk, but I also wanted to be safe to protect my overall ranking. I think things are looking pretty good for the overall now."
Barel qualified second-fastest, then rode the technical 1.3km course in the finals in a quick 1:52.13 - just one-hundredth of a second faster than Chris Kovarik (AUS, Intense Cycles). Kovarik had qualified third-fastest and finished second with a time of 1:52.14. - and moves into second-place overall in the world cup rankings.
Not to be left out, Mick Hannah (AUS, Global Racing Team) posted the fastest qualifying time in the morning semi-final session, then missed the win by just 0.57 of a second to earn third place with a time of 1:52.70. The 17-year-old becomes only the fifth junior racer to make a world cup podium.
Teammate Greg Minnaar (RSA, Global Racing Team) finished 4th after a strong run that was just 1.3 seconds slower then Barel's, while multi-time champion Nicolas Vouilloz (FRA, Vouilloz Racing Team) finished fifth, dropping to 3rd overall in the world cup standings.
Conditions were great for racing, as cool weather prevailed and the rains stayed away. Meanwhile, up to ten thousand spectators lined the course - causing some riders to comment how loud the cheers were during their runs. The course was short but technical, making the close finishing times all the more impressive.
Anne-Caroline Chausson (FRA, Volvo-Cannondale) was again able to prove herself the fastest woman in the world cup on Saturday, but this time had only about two minutes in which to do it. Racing on the circuit's shortest track thus far, she bested her longtime rival Missy Giove (USA, Global Racing Team) by one and a quarter seconds, taking only two minutes, eight seconds to complete her run over slippery roots, muddy soil and huge rocks.
Chausson's qualifying run had not gone as she had hoped. "I tried to go fast in the semi, but couldn't ride fast. I was on the brakes and off the course."
"I tried to go faster in the finals by letting off my brakes," she added - describing her run in a manner that would have made the descriptive Giove proud. "I made a big mistake in the trees where I lost speed. I was on my front wheel going 'aahhh!!' in the woods."
But she put it together in the finals, shaving enough time off to remain untouchable on the day's podium - and the overall standings. "It's just a two-minute race, so one mistake is all you get."
Giove had qualified faster than Chausson in the morning's semi-final run, and hoped to shave time off of her afternoon's finals. "I thought I could go four seconds faster, and wanted to 'pump' my way through the trees," said the former champion. "But I hit a tree and nose-wheelied in the last tree section - my rear end was swapping all over the track, which made for a couple-second error." Giove's biggest problem on the track, as it turned out, was the exact same problem Chausson experienced, as the two compared notes after the race.
With her win, Chausson proves that she's the fastest on any type of course - be it a speed course in Maribor or a muddy, technical course in Vars. This 'North Shore' type course that was newly built for the world cup is short, fast and very technical - a style that the top women said they liked, although they prefer a longer course where they can utilize their fitness.
But the spectators loved it, as thousands lined the course from top to bottom as it dropped off huge boulders and wound through the trees. Tracy Moseley (GBR, Team Kona/Ford Focus) loved it as well, posting her best-ever world cup finish in third-place after qualifying 5th-fastest. Sabrina Jonnier (FRA, RSP Import Intense) posted her season's best finish for 4th place, while Katja Repo (FIN, Team GT) rounded out the podium in 5th place.