By Sue George
Cross country World Champion Marga Fullana (Massi) won her second Superprestigio Massi round in Sunday in Banyoles, Spain, just one week after she took victory in the opening round. In the men's race Ivan Alvarez Gutierrez (Giant Italia) came out ahead at the end of a two-man battle with Jose Antonio Hermida (Multivan Merida).
Fullana was the favorite going into the women's race, and within the first kilometer, she was at the front with Sandra Santanyes (Cemelorca-Trek), Rocío Gamonal (Caixanova-BH), Ana Villar (Massi) and the Cecile Ravanel (Chamonix VTT) and Sabrina Enaux (BH-Suntour).
In the end, Fullana won the three-lap event in a relatively short 1:09:29.
"I felt really good," said Fullana after her win.
The men were up next with a noon-time start. On hand were Frenchman Jean Christophe Peraud, making his Massi team debut, and stars like Gutierrez, several-time Spanish champion Hermida and two time Olympic Champion Julien Absalon.
A hot, sunny day set up some favorable conditions for eventual winner Gutierrez of Spain.
An initial lead group of Alvarez Gutierrez, Hermida, Sergio Mantecon (Cemelorca-Trek), and Absalon (Team Orbea) formed. On the second lap, Hermida and Alvarez Gutierrez were alone off the front, with Absalon a few second behind.
It wasn't until the final lap that the Alvarez Gutierrez/Hermida battle would be resolved. Both took turns attacking.
"I found a place where I was stronger than Hermida," said Alvarez Gutierrez. "I concentrated my attack on a steep climb which preceded a long series of curves. I had five to 10 meters of advantage at the end of it, and this was sufficient to carry me to the win."
Hermida finished second. With one to go, Absalon was at 1:30, a gap that would hold steady until the end.
"Julien felt good in his first race with elite competition this year," said Orbea Team Manager Joseba Arizaga. "Being third behind those who never stopped racing over the winter means he's doing fine."
"This kind of training will bear fruit later in the season," said Arizaga, considering also the performances of Absalon's teammates Ruben Ruzafa and Inaki Lejarreta.
The race attracted 650 competitors from 13 countries.
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of round two of the Superprestigio Massi.