Irina Kalentieva (Ergon - Topeak) capped off her best season yet by claiming her first world championship and World Cup titles, and winning her seventh Russian National Championship. Now, the 29 year-old is relaxing with family in her hometown in Russia, while mentally preparing for the 2008 Olympic Ganes in Beijing.
Kalentieva won the World Championship race in Fort William, Scotland, by 39 seconds over European Champion Sabine Spitz. "Everyone was looking at each other, waiting for someone to do something. It got slower and slower. In the end I decided to go for it," said Kalentieva after her win. The German Spitz stayed with her, but going into the final lap a small gap appeared. "To win the Worlds is a dream come true."
One week after worlds, Kalentieva won the World Cup overall title in Maribor, Slovenia. A technical course delivered everything that the new World Champion loves to ride, with lots of roots to catch the riders off guard. All the same, she was suffering a cold following the damp of Scotland and for the first few laps didn't feel great.
Things changed on the third lap. "I felt a lot better, and I overtook [Canadian Marie Helen] Premont to take second place. But by the fifth lap I wasn't feeling great, and with my head cold biting back I let up, not wanting to make myself worse." At this point Premont showed that she had been preserving her energy, and moved up to take second, behind Lui Ying of China.
Kalentieva ended up third, "I wasn't looking for a race win here, and for me today was about the series" Irina said. "I am pleased with my third place as it was a great race. Premont was very strong too. I am delighted with winning the series. It has been the best season ever."