By Paul Verkuylen in Mount Stromlo, Australia
South Africa's Greg Minnaar stole the victory from his Santa Cruz Syndicate team-mate and local Australian favourite Nathan Rennie, as he blasted down the course as the last remaining rider to take the victory by over four seconds. Gee Atherton (Animal Commencal) rounded out the podium in third just over a second behind Rennie.
Minnaar's victory was well met by the local crowd, even if they were all jeering on Rennie as he sat in the hot seat waiting for his two team-mates, who had qualified second fastest and fastest in the semi final.
"The Springboks beat the Aussies last night and today we did it again," Minnaar said while accepting a local beer from the crowd. "Sorry to rub it in but it does feel great!" Minnaar was referring to a rugby match the night before.
Rennie was happy with his second place, even if he did come oh so close to winning on home soil. "This is my best result this season, with a second. It was hard to push through the mud; it almost feels like a win," Rennie said. "A good solid result, I am happy."
Minnaar had nothing but praise for his Australian team-mate. "He has had an up and down season but today he has shown what he is really made of. He rode an awesome race."
Like Minnaar, Great Britain's Tracy Mosley (Kona) was on track to take her second World Cup win of the season. She outclassed her compatriot Rachael Atherton (Animal Commecal) in wet and slippery conditions. Moseley was the last to start after taking the fastest time in the semi finals earlier in the day.
In the end Moseley finished over four seconds ahead of Atherton, who was just 15 one-hundredths of a second faster than Sabrina Jonnier (Team Maxxis) in third.
A long flat run into the line made for a difficult finish to the demanding circuit, with many of the women complaining that it dragged on way too long. Overnight rains turned the dust to paste like mud, which sapped their legs of any remaining energy.
Moseley was the strongest coming into this section taking advantage of her strength to distance herself from the rest of the field. "That sprint to the finish was brutal in this weather," she explained. "You feel like your going somewhere and then you hit a muddy patch and it completely saps your energy. It comes down to the pedalling on this track. Having a bike that rolls really good and tyre pressure make a difference."
Atherton was disappointed, but admitted that a number of mistakes at the top of the course cost her a win. The battle for the World Cup remains close. Atherton still leads after placing second, but anything could happen at the World Cup final in two weeks.
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