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Engen wins women's eliminator title at Cairns World Cup

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World Cup leader Alexandra Engen

World Cup leader Alexandra Engen
(Image credit: Marius Maasewerd)
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Jolanda Neff (Liv Pro XC Team)

Jolanda Neff (Liv Pro XC Team)
(Image credit: Marius Maasewerd)
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Alexandra Engen (Ghost Factory Racing) out front

Alexandra Engen (Ghost Factory Racing) out front
(Image credit: Marius Maasewerd)
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Alexandra Engen (Ghost Factory Racing) over a slippery berm

Alexandra Engen (Ghost Factory Racing) over a slippery berm
(Image credit: Marius Maasewerd)
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World Champ Alexandra Engen (Ghost Factory Racing)

World Champ Alexandra Engen (Ghost Factory Racing)
(Image credit: Marius Maasewerd)
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Kate Courtney (Specialized Racing XC) finished a respectable 6th

Kate Courtney (Specialized Racing XC) finished a respectable 6th
(Image credit: Marius Maasewerd)
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Alexandra Engen (Ghost Factory Racing)

Alexandra Engen (Ghost Factory Racing)
(Image credit: Marius Maasewerd)
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Alexandra Engen (Ghost Factory Racing) takes the win in front of Jenny Rissveds (Scott-Odlo MTB Racing Team)

Alexandra Engen (Ghost Factory Racing) takes the win in front of Jenny Rissveds (Scott-Odlo MTB Racing Team)
(Image credit: Marius Maasewerd)
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Podium: Kathrin Stirnemann, Jenny Rissveds, Alexandra Engen, Jolanda Neff, Eva Lechner

Podium: Kathrin Stirnemann, Jenny Rissveds, Alexandra Engen, Jolanda Neff, Eva Lechner
(Image credit: Marius Maasewerd)

Rain and mud did not slow riders down for the first round of the eliminator in the 2014 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, in Cairns, Australia. World champion Alexandra Engen (Ghost Factory Racing) took the women's title to don the leader's jersey in the eliminator competition.

The technical 813-metre circuit was made even more difficult by the wet conditions, with riders sliding out in corners and on the roots as they desperately attempted to gain traction. The winning tactic proved to be getting the hole shot into the first corner before the climb. From there, it was a matter of avoiding mistakes in the downhill and keeping up the speed into the final long straightaway.

Sweden dominated the women's qualifying, with European champion Jenny Rissveds (Scott-Odlo) qualifying first and Engen second. Rissveds survived a scare in the first round, when she tangled with Sabine Spitz (Sabine Spitz Haibike), shearing spokes in her front wheel, but managing to hold on to make it to the final round. Engen rode conservatively in the first two rounds, easing up in the final sprint each time to qualify second, and saving her energy for the final.

Engen and Rissveds were joined in the final by Jolanda Neff (Liv Pro XC) and Kathrin Stirnemann (Sabine Spitz Haibike), but it was all Engen in the podium race. The world champion exploded out of the start, easily taking the holeshot to lead into the climb, then extending her lead to cruise across the line in first place. Stirnemann crashed early, putting her out of contention, while Neff slid out on the descent, ending a possible battle with Rissveds for second.

"It's always nerve wracking in the first World Cup of the season," said Engen, "because you don't know where everyone is in their fitness. I'm just so relieved and happy it worked out so well. I love it! As a kid I always wanted to be mud wrestling and out in the rain, so I kind of enjoyed it today."

Results

Women
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Alexandra Engen (Swe) Ghost Factory Racing
2Jenny Rissveds (Swe) Scott-Odlo Mtb Racing Team
3Jolanda Neff (Swi) Liv Pro Xc Team
4Kathrin Stirnemann (Swi) Sabine Spitz Haibike Pro Team
5Eva Lechner (Ita) Team Colnago Sudtirol
6Kate Courtney (USA) Specialized Racing Xc
7Sabine Spitz (Ger) Sabine Spitz Haibike Pro Team
8Jovana Crnogorac (Srb) Salcano Alanya
9Helen Grobert (Ger) Focus Xc Team
10Barbara Benko (Hun) Focus Xc Team
11Emily Parkes (Aus)
12Paula Gorycka (Pol) 4F Racing Team
13Amber Johnston (NZl)

Elite women eliminator World Cup standings after round 2
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Alexandra Engen (Swe) Ghost Factory Racing60pts
2Jenny Rissveds* (Swe) Scott-Odlo MTB Racing Team40
3Jolanda Neff* (Swi) Liv Pro XC Team30
4Kathrin Stirnemann (Swi) Sabine Spitz Haibike Pro Team25
5Eva Lechner (Ita) Team Colnago Sudtirol20
6Kate Courtney* (USA) Specialized Racing XC18
7Sabine Spitz (Ger) Sabine Spitz Haibike Pro Team16
8Jovana Crnogorac* (Srb) Salcano Alanya14
9Helen Grobert* (Ger) Focus XC Team12
10Barbara Benko (Hun) Focus XC Team10
11Emily Parkes* (Aus)8
12Paula Gorycka (Pol) 4F Racing Team6
13Amber Johnston* (NZl)4

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