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Julien Absalon (Orbea)
The last of the 2007 Mountain Bike World Cup winners have been settled following the cross country,...
The last of the 2007 Mountain Bike World Cup winners have been settled following the cross country, 4X and downhill series finales in Slovenia at the weekend. Heading into the weekend's event at the re-developed Maribor venue most of the titles were a mere formality, with the men's cross country and downhill standings already locked away.
Julien Absalon's (Orbea) successful World Cup defense in the Elite Men's cross country at the previous round in St Félicien, Canada left Spain's José Hermida (Multivan Merida) fighting Switzerland's Christoph Sauser (Specialized) for second place. "Julien wasn't much in the race because he had achieved his goal already, and he only was there to come to his team-mates' aid," admitted Orbea team manager Ixio Barandiaran.
"I wanted to win here, which unfortunately did not work out," said Hermida, who successfully defended his second place in the overall standings, despite being beaten by Sauser on the day. "But I managed to defend my second place in the World Cup's overall ranking and I'm very satisfied with that."
In the Elite Women's cross country standings Russia's Irina Kalentieva (Topeak) needed little more than a finish to wrap up the World Cup victory from Canada's Marie-Helene Premont (Rocky Mountain Haywood). The points deficit between the pair meant Premont's second place made little impression on Kalentieva's series lead, a situation not helped by the Russian's third placing in Slovenia.
It was a similar situation in the Elite Men and Elite Women's downhill standings, with the two world champions locking away their World Cup wins to add the icing to the cake. Australia's Samuel Hill (Iron Horse/Monster Energy) continued the blistering pace that earned him an unassailable series lead, taking another World Cup win to settle the gap between he and Finland's Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda) at a massive 384 points.
Hill's fellow world champion and Iron Horse/Monster Energy team-mate Sabrina Jonnier ensured the squad took home two World Cups. The French woman finished down in sixth for the event, but still claimed the Elite Women's series by 130 points over Great Britain's Tracy Moseley (Kona Les Gets).
In the Elite Men's 4X an uncharacteristic mistake that prevented Brian Lopes from making the big final did little to damage a massive lead in the World Cup standings over the Czech Republic's Michal Prokop. The American took out the series with 1010 points to Prokop's 650.
The Netherlands' Anneke Beerten claimed the round victory in the Elite Women's 4X and capitalized on a poor performance by American Jill Kintner to claim the World Cup win. Beerten turned a 40 point deficit into a 150 point advantage to take out the title.
The mentioned World Cup winners join France's Thomas Dietsch (Gewiss Bianchi) and Finland's Pia Sundstedt (Gewiss Bianchi) who claimed the Elite Men and Women Marathon World cups respectively at the last round in Verviers, Belgium last month.