Pole wins women's MTB race
Maja Wloszczowska (Darren Goddard, cycho.co.za/Gameplan Media)
Cape Town - After a captivating tussle at the front end of the elite women’s cross country race of the 2012 RockyRoads UCI MTB World Cup Pietermaritzburg Maja Wloszczowska (CCC Polkowice) of Poland emerged victorious in the season opening event at Cascades MTB park.
A three way contest throughout the thrilling five lap encounter saw Wloszczowska battling it out with the two Canadians, Emily Batty (Subaru-Trek) and Catharine Pendrel (Luna Pro), and having dropped current world champion Pendrel late in the race it become a simple matter of who could hold their nerve the best over the closing kilometers.
With the lead having chopped and changed repeatedly Batty lead proceedings into the notorious Rock Garden however incredible awareness and ability to adapt to the situation saw Wloszczowska changed her line at the last minute, sail past a helpless Batty and once she had the lead there was no turning back for the Pole.
“She (Emily Batty) took my usual line in the rock garden on the last lap so I had no option but to go right so I just left off my breaks and went for it!” explained a thrilled Wloszczowska.
"I'm so proud of myself," she laughed. "I knew only the left line because my coach told me that 'that's the line you have to go', so I kept to the left line the whole race and then when I saw that Emily took the left and I had no choice. I had to try to pass her on the right, so that was my best decision in the whole race today."
Despite having come so close there was little evidence of disappointment on Batty’s face after the race, instead the Canadian star was elated with her season opening effort and full of praise for her fellow competitor.
“Maja (Wloszczowska) was keeping on the inside (through the rock garden), so I figured that if I could just take that line it would be quicker, but she still took the other side and just nicked me in the corner and she was able to slip through,” described Batty.
“If this was a little longer, I would have preferred it. A hundred feet more, but I felt so awesome out there. I can’t thank everyone for supporting me enough. You all know who you are!” she added.
World champ Pendrel gave it her all but simply didn’t quite have enough left in the tank over the closing stages and had to settle for the final step on the podium.
"I don't think the weather was that big a problem. I think we're all in the same situation. It's just as hot for everybody out there. I felt good. It's a factor, it's challenging and everybody has to deal with the same thing,” said Pendrel.
"I'm not always the most patient racer, so I'm trying to learn to be a little more patient. I'm trying to watch and see how things take shape, but maybe a little more aggression would been better on the last lap."
"I feel good. I think this is a great sport and the girls are all riding extremely well, physically, technically, and I think it is going to be an exciting year," she added.
Kseniya Kirillova of Russia was one of few who suffered at the hands of the course and left the course with a badly broken humerus and dislocated right shoulder after she hurtled over her handlebars in the switch-back section just above the Rapid Rocks rock garden at the bottom of the course.
Earlier in the day Austrian under 23 talent Alexander Gehbauer got his 2012 RockyRoads UCI MTB World Cup season off to the perfect start when he narrowly outsprinted Italian star Gerhard Kreschbaumer (TX Active Bianchi) to claim the spoils in the U23 Men’s Cross Country duel at Cascades MTB park on Saturday morning.
After a titanic three-way battle throughout the five lap contest between the top two riders and Germany’s Markus Schulte-Luenzum (Focus MIG) it came down to a last lap sprint to separate the trio and it was Gehbauer who ultimately had the legs and powered home six seconds ahead of Kreschbaumer with Schulte-Luenzum claiming third and South Africa’s James Reid (Nedbank 360Life) putting a monumental effort to claim fourth spot.
"It was my first race [of the year]. I was really excited before the race. I trained well in the winter and I am so happy. Last year I was injured two days before the European Championships and so it was unbelievable to win again; last year I won two World Cup...perfect!" said Gehbauer.
"Kreschbaumer, in second, is not such a strong sprinter and Markus (Schulte-Luenzum), in third, he's a good sprinter, but we lost him on the second uphill [of the last lap]. It was perfect for me."
"I loved the course. It's like a BMX track," he laughed. “And the rock gardens were very difficult but I had no problems. It was a perfect race for me."
Having started slowly Kearsney College old boy Reid ground his way towards the front of the pack early on and put in a stellar effort as he attempted to hunt down to leaders on his own whilst always keeping a careful eye on those trying desperately to catch him.
“It’s just incredible!” exclaimed an ecstatic Reid who, before the race, had said he was aiming for a top ten finish. “That’s definitely my best performance ever thus far and I’m just so chuffed!”
“Being part of such a supportive outfit as Nedbank 360Life team has made all the difference. I have been able to raise my game as a result of it. I had it coming and I felt I was in great form coming into this World Cup!”
“It is a confirmation of where I can go with the right guidance and support,” he added, “I’m completely over the moon!”
Whilst Reid took in his phenomenal result it was a day of disappointment for South Africa’s top U23 contender Rourke Croeser (Orange Monkey-Cannondale) who, after a great start, suffered a second lap crash and had to pick his way through the field to finish seventeenth overall.
“I just hit a stump on the second lap and it’s was really tough after that,” said a mortified Croeser shortly after crossing the finish line. “I’d really hoped for a podium finish coming into the race so it is just so so disappointing! It’s hugely frustrating!”
The Elite Men, U23 Women and Junior Women Cross Country events also take place on Saturday 17 March with the Men and Women Downhill finals taking place on Sunday 18 March. More info can be found at www.mtbworldcupsa.co.zaSummary of results:Elite women
1.Maja Wloszczowska (POL) 1:34:01
2.Emily Batty (CAN) +4
3.Catharine Pendrel (CAN) +23
4.Esther Suss (SUI) +1:03
5.Julie Bresset (FRA) +1:17
6.Katerina Nash (CZE) +1:24
7.Sabine Spitz (GER) +2:02
8.Karen Hanlen (NZL) +2:17
9.Annie Last (GBR) +2:35
10.Irina Kalentieva (RUS) +2:42U23 men
1.Alexander Gehbauer (AUT) 1:21:52
2.Gerhard Kreschbaumer (ITA) +6
3.Markus Schulte-Luenzum (GER) +38
4.James Reid (RSA) +1:13
5.Ondrej Cink (CZE) +1:43
6.Michiel van der Heijden (NED) +1:47
7.Ruben Scheire (BEL) +2:10
8.Jeff Luyten (BEL) +2:25
9.Daniele Braidot (ITA) +3:09
10.Zsolt Juhasz (HUN) +4:05U23 women
1.Ekaterina Anoshina (RUS) 1:10.29
2.Yana Belomoyna (UKR) +1:15
3.Lisa Mitterbauer (AUT) +1:59
4.Barbara Benko (HUN) +4:51
5.Kajsa Snihs (SWE) +5:55
6.Rebecca Henderson (AUS) +6:07
7.Vivienne Meyer (SUI) +6:12
8.Julie Berteaux (FRA) +6:34
9.Michelle Hediger (SUI) +6:46
10.Mona Eiberweiser (GER) +8:34Junior women
1.Hayley Smith (RSA) 59.11
2.Nicole Erasmus (RSA) +4.19
3.Savannah Vosloo(RSA) +6.23