Spaniard Ivan Alvarez Gutierrez (Giant Italia) collected a win at round one of the Coupe de France VTT in St-Raphael, France, on Sunday. Gutierrez preceded two Frenchman: Jean-Christophe Péraud (Massi) in second and Alexis Vuillermoz (Lapierre International) in third.
Coming off two victories in Banyoles, Spain, and Montichiari, Italy, in recent weeks Gutierrez was the favourite going into the race even though Julien Absalon, Olympic Champion, was also present.
Orbea's Absalon led the group on the first lap, and he was followed by Gutierrez, Miguel Martinez (Felt International), Cédric Ravanel (Lapierre International) and Vuillermoz. On the second lap, Gutierrez was at the front. His win was a close one, with Peraud just six seconds behind him. Vuillermoz finished not much further back, at 13 seconds.
Wet weather conditions and the track caused several technical problems, and Absalon was among those who withdrew. He pulled out of the race on the second lap.