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."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team|
|1||Alexandra Engen (Swe) Ghost Factory Racing|
|2||Jenny Rissveds (Swe) Scott-Odlo Mtb Racing Team|
|3||Jolanda Neff (Swi) Liv Pro Xc Team|
|4||Kathrin Stirnemann (Swi) Sabine Spitz Haibike Pro Team|
|5||Eva Lechner (Ita) Team Colnago Sudtirol|
|6||Kate Courtney (USA) Specialized Racing Xc|
|7||Sabine Spitz (Ger) Sabine Spitz Haibike Pro Team|
|8||Jovana Crnogorac (Srb) Salcano Alanya|
|9||Helen Grobert (Ger) Focus Xc Team|
|10||Barbara Benko (Hun) Focus Xc Team|
|11||Emily Parkes (Aus)|
|12||Paula Gorycka (Pol) 4F Racing Team|
|13||Amber Johnston (NZl)|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Alexandra Engen (Swe) Ghost Factory Racing||60||pts|
|2||Jenny Rissveds* (Swe) Scott-Odlo MTB Racing Team||40|
|3||Jolanda Neff* (Swi) Liv Pro XC Team||30|
|4||Kathrin Stirnemann (Swi) Sabine Spitz Haibike Pro Team||25|
|5||Eva Lechner (Ita) Team Colnago Sudtirol||20|
|6||Kate Courtney* (USA) Specialized Racing XC||18|
|7||Sabine Spitz (Ger) Sabine Spitz Haibike Pro Team||16|
|8||Jovana Crnogorac* (Srb) Salcano Alanya||14|
|9||Helen Grobert* (Ger) Focus XC Team||12|
|10||Barbara Benko (Hun) Focus XC Team||10|
|11||Emily Parkes* (Aus)||8|
|12||Paula Gorycka (Pol) 4F Racing Team||6|
|13||Amber Johnston* (NZl)||4|
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