Roland Green Wins Canada's First World Cup, Fullana Repeats|
Thursday, June 07, 2001
Cross-country pro Roland Green (CAN, Trek-Volkswagen) became the
first-ever male XC racer from Canada to win an elite world cup race Sunday, when he upset a large and powerful field
of competitors in the green hills of Houffalize, Belgium - taking the overall leader's jersey with him.
Marga Fullana (ESP, Specialized) was again the women's winner at this third round of the Tissot-UCI Mountain Bike
World Cup - winning her second-straight XC event of the series.
Weather was sunny and warm as tens of thousands of spectators lined the 7.7km course for four laps of women's racing
and five laps for the men - both fields finishing their events at the UCI's new optimum finishing time of two hours.
Houffalize is one of the classic events on the world cup - a favorite of riders and spectators alike, and now
features shorter laps and faster action through the Ardennes forest.
Roland Green (CAN, Trek-Volkswagen) has been riding fast this season, and finished second last week to Olympic and
World Champion Miguel Martinez (FRA, Full Dynamix) after a late-race attack saw the two battle for the finish. But
this week it was the Canadian's turn to taste victory (and an accompanying magnum of Leffe beer on the podium), as
Green became the first Canadian male to win an elite world cup XC event.
"I don't think it's sunk in yet," said Green following his win. "I've been working for this my whole life, to win a
world cup race. I didn't think it was going to happen today, because I thought I had a flat tyre early in the race,
but the tube was just a bit low." Green had tested his legs up front early, battling it out with Bas Van Dooren (NED,
Specialized) until mid-way through the third of five laps - the Dutch rider riding a loud wave of cheers from the
"I took the lead in the third lap, and was most worried about Miguel," said Green. But Martinez was chasing in fourth
position and - at the end of the third lap - Green's biggest rivals were Van Dooren and round-one winner Jose Hermida
(ESP, Bianchi Motorex). But neither could catch Green once he attacked - although they were within seconds until the
fourth lap, when Green built an insurmountable gap of a minute - improving it to 1:06 by race's end.
Two-time World Champion Marga Fullana (ESP, Specialized) was looking to repeat her win from last week in Sarentino,
riding hard in the first lap to take the lead and build a gap between her and teammate Barbara Blatter (SUI,
2000 World Cup Champion Blatter led early in the first lap, but said she was a bit nervous - crashing on a steep
drop. Fullana then went by her and - with instructions from her Team Manager Gert-Jan Theunisse - attacked the field
to build a ten second lead by mid-lap.
While top-ranked Blatter rode steadily in second position, a battle ensued for third position between Annabella
Stropparo (ITA, Be-One) and #2-ranked Alison Dunlap (USA, Team GT). First she passed Laurence Leboucher (FRA) by the
third lap's mid-point, then Dunlap set her sights on Stropparo and the points that come with third place.
Fullana's goals for this season include the World Championship - but not the world cup title - leaving the battle for
now between Blatter and Dunlap. So while Fullana built an eventual lead of a minute and 20 seconds, Dunlap eventually
passed Stropparo in a long, gradual climb of the final lap - attacking hard and coming within 27 seconds of catching
Blatter as well and taking third position for the second week in a row.
"It was a hard race and started super-fast," said Dunlap. "Every point is important, and - fortunately or
unfortunately - all it takes is one bad race to change the overall standings."
Blatter held off any attacks behind her and finished in second place - also for the second-straight week. Leboucher
held on to 5th position behind Stropparo, to round out the podium. Overall Blatter leads the world cup by 110 points
over Dunlap, Fullana 40 points behind Dunlap.
"I was nervous in the beginning," said Blatter. "I could see Marga was strong today, so I expected her to win. She's
not doing all the world cups, but I am, so I need to do well. For now it's between Alison and me for the overall, so
as long as I'm in front of her I'm OK." Fullana crossed the finish line with a smile, 1:20 ahead of the field. "I
like this course, and am so happy to win," she said. "I was behind Barbara and saw she was a bit nervous, so I took
the lead early. Ideally I would like to build at least a two minute lead, because anything can happen - like a crash
or a flat tire - even with a minute or a minute and a half lead."