Reigning World Champion Irina Kalentieva confirmed her good form with a victory at the cross country World Cup opener in Dably Forest, Great Britain, on Sunday.
Kalentieva and the others facied a demanding, technical, 6.5km course at a new World Cup venue and a top-notch field despite travel difficulties encountered by many after to the interuption of flights due to volcanic ash.
From the start, Kalentieva, clad in her rainbow striped jersey, moved into the lead group. By the second lap, she was in a two-woman race with American Willow Koerber (Subaru / Gary Fisher). The American gave nothing away to the Russian, and Kalentieva had to dig deep to pull off the victory.
At the base of the longest climb, Kalentieva attacked, and in the 3.5km that remained until the finish, she managed to take 11 seconds out of Koerber on her way to the win.
"Following my crash last week, I am very pleased to have won today," she said. "It is the best way to start the season, a World Cup win!" Kalentieva had been forced to abandon the Bundesliga - Internationale Frühjahrsklassiker race one week ago after her handlebar slammed into her stomach during a fall.
She travels next with her teammtes to Houffalize, Belgium, for the second round of the World Cup.