Lene Byberg (Specialized Factory Racing) took her first World Cup victory after a dominant ride in difficult conditions in round six of cross-country series in Bromont, Quebec. She also took over the lead in the women's overall standings from World Champion Marga Fullana (Massi).
"For the last lap, all I could think was to be careful and not to crash, so that I could take this most unbelievable victory of my career," said Byberg.
Rain that had been threatening all morning began shortly before the start of lap two in the five-lap race. It made the rocks and roots slippery and treacherous. The race had already begun to sort itself out by that point, with Byberg bridging up to the early leaders Irina Kalentieva (Topeak Ergon), Catharine Pendrel (Luna) and Willow Koerber (Subaru-Gary Fisher).
Koerber lost contact and the Kalentieva, Pendrel, Byberg trio gradually pulled away from the rest of the field. Pendrel dropped off in the next in lap three and then Kalentieva a lap later, leaving the Norwegian Byberg on her own.
"It wasn't really an attack," said Byberg. "I was riding very strongly, and felt good in the conditions, especially on the climb. I saw that I had a little gap, and then it started getting bigger and bigger."
"I maybe went too hard earlier in the race, trying to break things up. I didn't have it when the serious effort came later in the race," said Pendrel.
Marie-Helene Premont (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) had been expected to challenge the leaders in conditions that suit her, but she was not a contender and finished 13th. Premont appeared tired on the climb by the second lap and had some of the breathing difficulties that knocked her out of the Olympics last summer.
"It was very hard for me out there today," Premont admitted. "I felt dizzy a bit, and I couldn't breathe, so I had to stop at the side of the track for a while before I was able to go again. It was not a good day for me."
Kalentieva and Pendrel followed Byberg in for second and third. Round one winner Elisabeth Osl (Central Ghost) took fourth and American Mary McConneloug (Kenda-Seven-No Tubes) made a late-race surge for fifth.
Byberg holds a 25-point lead over Osl and Kalentieva in the overall standings. Former leader Fullana dropping to fourth and Pendrel in fifth. Any one of these five could take the final title depending upon what happens in the last two rounds.
Canada's Emily Batty (Toronto Trek Store) finished 15th and took her third Under-23 World Cup victory of the season. She moved into second in the standings behind Caroline Mani (Team Bikepark.ch), who finished four spots behind Batty. In the four World Cups she has entered, Batty has three firsts and a second for the Under-23 category, and has finished in the top-15 overall in all four events.
|1||Lene Byberg (Nor) Specialized Factory Racing||1:45:58|
|2||Irina Kalentieva (Rus) Topeak Ergon Racing Team||0:02:35|
|3||Catharine Pendrel (Can) Luna Pro Team||0:03:13|
|4||Elisabeth Osl (Aut) Central Ghost Pro Team||0:03:31|
|5||Mary McConneloug (USA) Kenda Seven NoTubes||0:03:50|
|6||Katherine Compton (USA)||0:04:08|
|7||Willow Koerber (USA) Subaru-Gary Fisher||0:04:41|
|8||Georgia Gould (USA) Luna Pro Team||0:05:46|
|9||Katerina Nash (Cze) Luna Pro Team||0:07:38|
|10||Cécile Rode Ravanel (Fra) Lapierre International||0:08:58|
|11||Heather Irmiger (USA) Subaru-Gary Fisher||0:09:16|
|12||Lea Davison (USA) Team Maxxis-Rocky Mountain Bicycles||0:09:50|
|13||Marie-Helene Premont (Can) Team Maxxis-Rocky Mountain Bicycles||0:11:12|
|14||Katrin Leumann (Swi)||0:12:01|
|15||Emily Batty (Can) Trek Store Toronto||0:12:07|
|16||Amanda Sin (Can) 3Rox Racing||0:13:14|
|17||Laura Metzler (Fra) Bh-Suntour||0:13:57|
|18||Sabrina Enaux (Fra) Bh-Suntour||0:14:08|
|19||Caroline Mani (Fra) Team Bikepark.Ch||0:15:01|
|20||Julie Krasniak (Fra)||0:17:57|
|DNF||Margarita Fullana Riera (Spa) Massi|