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Welcome to Cyclingnews' coverage of the 2010 UCI Mountainbike World Championship. We will start off with the women's race.
Hello, and welcome. The women will be taking off shortly on this course in Mont-Sainte-Anne in Quebec, Canada. Our Sue George is on the scene, and will be providing us with live updates.
And the big news is: it is raining! Like really pouring down!
Does Mont-Saint-Anne know mountain biking? You bet! The ski resort has hosted a World Cup or World Championship every year since 1991. This is its second World Championship, with the first one having been held in 1998.
The good news is that the rain has stopped. The bad news is that everything is still very wet and the rocks and roots will be very slippery.
The course is a twisting turning one of just under 5km, with lots of ups and downs and rocks and roots and all those other things that make mountain biking so beloved.
The women are being called to the start line and introduced.
This weather could well play into the hands of top Americans mary McConneloug and Willow Koerber. They are both good in this kind of condition.
Canadian Marie Helen Premont was introduced to a huge roar. The announcer had to pause to let them finish cheering.
The week started out very hot and very humid with temperatures in the mid-90s and heavy humidity. Every day it has gotten dryer and cooler,
until today, when it's 100% humidity (raining) and cold. Yesterday, conditions were the best, pretty much perfect for U23 and junior cross
country racers and four cross racers.
Mont-Sainte-Anne is a special venue, Sue George tells us. Most racers like it and it has a real fun atmosphere. There have been parties every night.
We're at the start line and ready to go!
And they're off!
67 women take off on the wide asphalt road -- it gets narrower later.
Some of the women had to click out on the first turn, and take a few steps.
Willow Koerber (USA) is in the lead at the moment.
Lechner and Koerber are sharing the lead, actually.
Eva Lechner (Italy) leads them up the first steep climb.
Here is the weather forecast for today, and isn't it a lovely one. Showers, with risk of thunderstorms in the late afternoon. Wind, southwest, 40 km/h (27 mph) with gusts up to 60 km/h (37 mph).
They are working their way up another difficult climb.
And down they come over some rocks with a sharp turn at the bottom. Some are walking down, and some are taking another route.
SG: Katrin Leumann and Nathalie Schneitter also have good starts. The Swiss have been good off the line every race so far
Another very rocky section, with lots deciding to walk or half-walk.
Great crowds here today.
A New Zealand rider goes down on the rocks, but pops right back up.
Ah, out of the woods and into a field. An uphill field.....
SG: One spectator just shared her trick for keeping track of laps. Put pebbles in pocket. Remove one each time around.
Sabine Spitz of Germany is near the front now. Remember, she won the Olympic gold two years ago.
There is a rocky descent on the second half of the lap that's become famous at Mont-Sainte-Anne. Riders can go right down it or take a go
around, which is theoretically longer time-wise, but safer. The section is fairly straightforward to ride in the dry, but in the wet, it will be
come extremely treacherous. It's a favorite among spectators.
Looks like KOerber is leading things here, followed by Schneitter.
Last night, thousands of people came out to watch the four cross finals under the lights. They cheered and drank beer. The race didn't even
start until 9:00 pm. Caroline Buchanan (Australia) successfully defended her world title. Jared Graves (Australia) fell short by one place. He
was passed at the last possible minute by Tomas Slavic (Czech), who won his first world title.
A Chinese rider goes down and blocks the way. Oops!
Several other riders have problems at the same spot
Lechner leads the way over the finish line to end the first lap in a time of 11,05.
Lechner, Pendrel and Wloscczowska are in the lead.
SG: Canadian Catharine Pendrel looks very good. She stands up and takes lead on small climb.
A back-up at the difficult stone-covered section.
The cross country course has a lot of steep climbing and descents. There is nowhere to rest on it. There are also plenty of technical
sections and turns. What makes this course technical is the presence of rocks and roots, which become notoriously slippery when it's wet.
The three women are still leading, but they have been joined by others from behind.
4.5 laps to go now....
Pendrel is now in the lead. We have a group of seven at the front.
Pendel has taken off in a solo effort. She has quite a lead.
The other six are giving chase, but things are getting spread out.
In the chase are Maja Wloszczowska, Irina Kalentieva, Willow Koerber, Catharine Pendrel, Nathalie Schneitter and Janka Stevkova.
Of course the local women are favourites today: Catharine Pendrel (2010 World Cup overall winner and winner of two rounds, and Marie Helen Premont (local from Quebec) in her swansong race. Premont actually was going to retire then extended her career to race one last worlds at home. When she comes out to race here, the fans go wild and you can tell where she in on course by how loud and where the cheering is.
Both women could win a medal today and even the title.
Pendrel got away on that climb and is holding on to her lead, although it seems to be getting smaller. Wloszckowska is now second.
SG: Riders go thru tech zone twice each lap. It's the same zone. They pass once on each side
Pendrel has gone down now twice in the last few minutes, trying to take the easier way. Nerves?
Wloszckowska has now caught Pendrel, who is having a tough time of it.
Koerber now moves into third place.
The top US favourites are Willow Koerber and Georgia Gould (2010 US National Champion XC). Others who could do well are Mary McConneloug and Heather Irmiger, both of whom are past national champions in XC.
Pendrel is unable to drop her Polish rival. There is now a huge gap behind them. Koerber is third followed by Kalentieva.
SG: There is Chicken wire is on some wooden bridges to make them less slippery. Useful today
The two leaders approach the finish line. Pendrel leads the way. Four laps to go.
Koerber third, Wloszckowska fourth, both about 25 seconds back. Fifth is Spitz.
SG: Koerber asked USA staff for water next time she comes thru feed / tech zone
Lechner led at the end of the first lap, but is now 1.29 down.
Let's take a look at some of the sections along the way. La Beatrice is new this year, and is short but very technical. Misjudge the start of the slope at your peril, then carefully negotiate the hairpin turn across a flat rock, and you’ll come hurtling across a series of huge steps.
Heather Irmiger of the US crosses the line in ninth place, but we haven't spotted Georgia Gould yet.
La Germaine: A long, quick descent through the forest is littered with rocks, holes, and roots. The faster you go, the easier it is!
Wloszckowska now moves ahead of pendrel.
Huge gap behind Spitz, who is still in fifth.
And now it is Wloszckowska who has built up a lead and is pulling away from Pendrel, as Koerber moves up on the Canadian.
The Polish rider has built up a significant gap now.
We also have La Marmotte, a very demanding climb and a succession of 180° turns will make you sweat.
Wloszckowska leads Pendrel by about 12 seconds, then Koerber, Kalentieva and Spitz at about 20 seconds. It is beginning to look like only a five-woman race.
Sound easy enough already? How about a tricky descent? Les “S” Ecole has six technical ‘S’ turns which make for a nice descent. You’re going to need all your skills or you’ll lose a lot of time.
Premont, Osl and Irmiger are getting close to Spitz, who has dropped back from the ealier two.
SG: Maja looked fresher than Catharine when they passed. Maybe the latter started too hard?
Wloszckowska runs down the slower, rock-covered route, while the others ride down the fast way.
SG: I see US national champ Georgia Gould now. She's about half lap down. Not a great day for her
And then there's La Perdrix. This passage was already in place for the 1998 World Championships. It’s been updated to include a steep slope with a heavy fall—followed by a spectacular climb.
Osl goes down on the rocks. Her bike goes quite a way down without her. Ouch....
The women aren't alone out there. THe downhillers are training for their finals tomorrow. On a different course, naturally!
Kalentieva has fallen back slightly.
A huge gap for Wloszckowska. She crosses the finish line with a time of 49:37. Three laps to go.
Koerber second ahead of Pendrel both at 16. Kalentieva fourth at 30 seconds, and Spitz fifth at 44 seconds.
AFter Spitz there is a gigantic gap, with the next woman coming over nearly a minute later.
SG; Katie Compton (USA) is spotted in the feed zone. She's sitting down with head in hands. So disappointing for her after crash and injury earlier this week in team relay
Wloszckowska works her way up some hairpin turns in the woods, with Koerber and Pendrel in pursuit.
SG: Premont was in sixth at last sighting and looking good. She knows this course like back of her hand
SG: Heather Irmiger did a glasses hand off when she went through feed zone in an impressive 8th place.
Cyclingnews' Sue George tells us, ““I think this is going to be a pretty exciting worlds, if for no other reason than the conditions are epic (dumping rain) on a technical course. But in addition, there are many top contenders, the race is very wide open."
Pendrel and Koerber are still together.
The four chasers now have Wloszckowska in their sights.
Well, let's make that three chasers: Pendrel, Koerber and Kalentieva.
The gap has come down and the three are not at all that far back.
SG: Spitz was the only one of the top riders off her bike in uphill rock garden section
They all successfully negotiate the tricky ride down the rocks.
SG: Watch out for Irina. She's very experienced and has won twice before at worlds.
Kalnetieva runs down a tricky section.
Last year, the Worlds were held in Canberra, Australia, and the Top Ten looked like this:
1 Irina Kalentieva (Russian Federation) 1:43:20
2 Lene Byberg (Norway) 0:00:13
3 Willow Koerber (United States of America) 0:00:52
4 Sabine Spitz (Germany) 0:01:30
5 Anna Szafraniec (Poland) 0:01:37
6 Catharine Pendrel (Canada) 0:02:36
7 Cécile Rode Ravanel (France) 0:03:07
8 Esther Süss (Switzerland) 0:03:40
9 Eva Lechner (Italy) 0:03:58
10 Heather Irmiger (United States Of America) 0:04:12
Last year Irina Kalentieva (Russia) took her second career world title. Lene Byberg (Norway) had a break out performance and so did Willow
Koerber (US). They finished second and third.
SG: Irmiger still in 8th at last pass. Mcconneloug in 13th. Nice riding by US women
Kalentieva having some real problems -- perhaps something on the bike? She is ok now again, though.
It's about 20° Celsius out there, which is quite pleasant.
SG: No Byberg today. I wonder why? She podiumed last year.
Spitz and Kalentieva are now together, in fourth and fifth.
SG: Maja passes, taking a feed. She looks really good
Wloszckowska goes over the finish line in 1:08:54. Pendrel is at 0:30 and Koerber is at 0:32.
Kalentieva and Spitz were also within one minute. There are two full laps to go.
30 seconds just isn't enough to be a comfortable lead. Wloszckowska will be disappointed that she couldn't build her lead up.
Osl is sixth at 1:58. We definitely have a five-woman race here.
SG: Katerina Nash riding in 12th. She was part of medal winning Czech relay squad and also races cross.
The gap between Koerber/Pendrel and Kalentieva/Spitz seems to be increasing.
Wloszczowska continues on her solitary way. Spitz has now been dropped by Kalentieva.
A number of spectators are wearing rubber boots. That is probably an excellent idea.
Wloszczowska looks like her lead has increased..... where are the next two?
SG: Maja has a 35-second lead. Then Willow just passed Catharine. Spitz is in fourth and Irina is fifth.
Spitz and Kalentieva are together again and not that far behind Koerber and Pendre.l.
Spitz' husband is here too and just ran alongside his wife and shouted out some advice.
NOw Kalentieva has dropped Spitz.
Wloszczowska again runs down the long rocky descent.
The women are starting to sport a number of mud flecks.
Wloszczowska heads up the switchbacks.
She has to put her foot down and loses her rhythm.
Koerber now a few metres ahead of Pendrel, with Kalentieva in sight behind them.
What a difficult course and race this is!
It looks like Koerber has taken off on her own She is taking all risk, flying along.
Wloszczowska crosses the line at 1:29:29. One lap to go.
Koerber second at 37 seconds, and Pendrel third at 51 seonds. Kalentieva behind her at 55 seconds.
So Wloszczowska has finally been able to build her lead up, even if it is only by seven seconds.
Koerber looks determined, with her blond curls spilling out on to her back.
Osl fifth and Lechner sixth. Spitz has dropped to ninth.
Spitz and Premont are together at nearly 3 minutes down.
UP goes Wloszczowska over this section of the course for the last time.
ANd up a wooden ramp, covered with chicken wire.
Pendrel and Kalentieva in third and fourth in pursuit.
One of those two will be disappointed at the end of the day.
It looks like we have our first- and second-place finishers. The question now is who will take third. Will one break out from teh other or will they sprint?
Spitz moves ahead of Premont, but is much too far back to be a factor anymore.
Pendrel does all of the lead work.
Sue George has finally decided that Wloszczowska will probably take the win.
Pendrel is doing the lead work and suffering. Could be a smart move by Kalentieva.
On the other hand, Pendrel really, really wants a medal here.
Wloszczowska heads to the feed zone, about halfway through the final lap.
Wloszczowska grits her teeth as she holds on to her 37 second lead.
Pendrel leads Kalentieva up a climb.
Pendrel and Kalentieva may have moved up a bit on the two leaders. Wloszczowska again runs down the rocky descent, and slips dangerously.
She didn't go down, but lost some seconds. Must have been pretty scary, too.
KOerber went down on the wet rocks and got caught in the advertising banner. We now have a tight race for second and third.
That did allow Wloszczowska to build up her lead.
Kalentieva alone in second now. She goes down. Behind her are Pendrel and Koerber. Lots of nerves here...
Too bad there aren't four medals!
Wloszczowska now descends. Not so much further now for her!
Kalentieva now leads ahead of Pendrel and Koerber.
Wloszczowska is the new world champion! The first Polish woman to win the title!
Kalentieva has pulled away from the other two.
The Russian is second at 48 seconds, and Koerber takes bronze four seconds later after a daring final pass of Pendrel.
The winning time was 1:48.21.
Osl comes in at fifth, exactly two minutes down. Irmiger is sixth, at 2.03.
Congratuations to our three medal winners, and indeed, to all the women who took on this fearsome challenge.
Come back in an hour and join us for the men's race.