By Sue George
Colombian Hector Leonardo Paez Leon (Gewiss Bianchi) and Swiss Petra Henzi (Fischer-BMC) won the second of the two 2008 UCI Marathon World Cups last weekend in Ornans, France. Racers battled muddy conditions after days of rain prior to the event. The race was not only the final marathon World Cup of the season, but the final one in general as the UCI has not scheduled any marathon World Cups for 2009.
Leonardo Paez Leon escaped initially with a small group of riders and then rode off the front for a solo win over the 83km of the race. Just over two minutes behind him was Lukas Buchli followed by Karl Platt (TBS), Alban Lakata (Dolphin-Trek MTB Team) and Urs Huber.
"In different places, we sank up to our hubs in mud," said Team Alb Gold's Hannes Genz, who finished ninth.
Leonardo Paez Leon's performance was good enough to give him the World Cup overall title with 390 points. Thomas Dietsch (Gewiss Bianchi), who won round one in Turkey this spring, took second with 370 points, and Lakata finished third with 350 points.
In the women's 60km race, Henzi had a similar winning margin over Esther Süss. Blaza Kelmencic (Giant Italia) finished third with Sabrina Enaux (Team Lapierre International) in fourth and Michela Benzoni in fifth.
Round one winner Pia Sundstedt was named World Cup overall champion with 380 points. Süss claimed second with 360 points and Klemencic earned third with 310 points.
By virtue of being the top-placed French racers, Dietsch and Enaux were also crowned French national marathon champions.
The race in Ornans was the last chance for marathoners to claim a World Cup win. "The UCI will discontinue World Cup Marathon for 2009," said UCI spokesperson Enrico Carpani to Cyclingnews. "The current format doesn't meet our original concept, which aimed to attract mass participation with popular and elite riders competing side by side. We are currently looking into alternative ideas which will satisfy our hopes for the future of this discipline."
Racing will continue this coming weekend in France, with the popular Roc d'Azur race October 10-12.
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the final marathon World Cup.