The test event for the 2012 Olympic Mountain Bike races proved to be a stunning success, with the small but select fields putting on an exciting show for some 4000-plus spectators. Catharine Pendrel (Canada) and Julien Absalon (France) proved to be the strongest riders on the day, taking solo victories in the women's and men's races, respectively.
After cool weather earlier in the week, race day dawned sunny, and the wide-open venue heated up quickly, with the heat becoming a significant factor in the latter laps of the races.
The men's race was expected to be a show down between Absalon and World Cup leader Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech Republic), who has won four of the five World Cups contested so far this season - Absalon won the other one. Absalon skipped the last two World Cups to concentrate on training for his attempt at a fifth world title, so his form was unknown.
It quickly became clear the two-time Olympic champion was in excellent condition, riding nearly 20 seconds clear of a chase group on the first lap of the seven-lap race. Kulhavy, Christoph Sauser (Switzerland) and Karl Markt (Austria) led the chase, but they were losing ground on Absalon at every checkpoint. Kulhavy started to fade, and was passed by American Jeremiah Bishop, who joined Sauser and Markt in the battle for second and third.
Absalon did not back off all race, attacking every climb and taking the fastest, most difficult routes in every rock garden, as he continued to extend his lead. Sauser dropped the other two with two laps to go to take second at 1:20, while Markt dropped Bishop in the final lap to take third.
"I am very pleased," said Absalon. "I wanted to race very hard, because I have not had as much racing lately, so it was important to see how my form was, and it is good. I think maybe because I have not raced as much as some of the others, I am maybe fresher at this point of the season.
"It was important to do good start, and I did it. The legs were good, and I did a perfect race. I'm also happy with the track, finally it's good to ride, it is a fun track and it's interesting. So, I go back to France with a good feeling."
|1||Julien Absalon (France)||1:31:48|
|2||Christoph Sauser (Switzerland)||0:01:20|
|3||Karl Markt (Austria)||0:01:46|
|4||Jeremiah Bishop (United States Of America)||0:02:19|
|5||Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech Republic)||0:02:33|
|6||Kohei Yamamoto (Japan)||0:03:27|
|7||Maxime Marotte (France)||0:04:38|
|8||Magnus Darvell (Sweden)||0:04:58|
|9||Uwe Hochenwarter (Austria)||0:05:14|
|10||Rubens Valeriano (Brazil)||0:05:46|
|11||Alexander Gehbauer (Austria)||0:06:15|
|12||Hector Leonardo Paez Leon (Colombia)||0:06:19|
|13||Gerhard Kershbaumer (Italy)||0:06:41|
|14||Erik Groen (Netherlands)||0:06:47|
|15||Tony Longo (Italy)||0:06:52|
|16||Martin Fanger (Switzerland)||0:07:10|
|17||Paul Van Der Ploeg (Australia)||0:07:37|
|18||Andrew Watson (Canada)||0:07:42|
|19||Stéphane Tempier (France)||0:08:00|
|20||Lee Williams (Great Britain)||0:08:30|
|21||Jaime Yesid Chia Amaya (Colombia)||0:08:42|
|22||Lachlan Norris (Australia)||0:09:25|
|23||Kenta Gallagher (Great Britain)||0:09:32|
|24||Henrique Avancini (Brazil)||0:10:27|
|25||Daniel McConnell (Australia)||0:10:37|
|26||Evgeniy Pechenin (Russian Federation)||0:10:55|
|27||Paul Oldham (Great Britain)||0:11:08|
|28||Patrik Gallati (Switzerland)||0:11:29|
|29||Emmanuel Valencia Guadarrama (Mexico)||-1lap|
|30||Anthony O'Boyle (Great Britain)||-2laps|
|31||Seiya Hirano (Japan)|
|32||Sebastian Batchelor (Great Britain)|
|33||Evan McNeely (Canada)|
|34||Jonathan Pybus (Great Britain)|
|35||Adrien Niyonshuti (Rwanda)|
|36||Ben Thomas (Great Britain)||-3laps|
|37||Simon Ernest (Great Britain)|
|38||Tong Weisong (People's Republic of China)|
|39||Chris Andrews (Great Britain)|
|40||Christopher Minter (Great Britain)|
|41||Tim Lemmers (Netherlands)|
|42||James Steven (Great Britain)|
|43||Sion O'Boyle (Great Britain)|
|44||John Whittington (Great Britain)|
|45||Ross Adams (Great Britain)|
|DNF||Sven Nys (Belgium)|
|DNF||David Collins (Great Britain)|
|DNF||Robin Seymour (Ireland)|
|DSQ||Rourke Croeser (South Africa)|