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Absalon victorious in Hadleigh Farm International

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Reigning Olympic Champion Julien Absalon (France) wins the Olympic Test Event.

Reigning Olympic Champion Julien Absalon (France) wins the Olympic Test Event.
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Christoph Sauser greets the fans

Christoph Sauser greets the fans
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Kulhavy clearly didn't have his heart in it

Kulhavy clearly didn't have his heart in it
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Karl Markt

Karl Markt
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Sven Nys had difficulties in the technical sections

Sven Nys had difficulties in the technical sections
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Julien Absalon

Julien Absalon
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Christoph Sauser

Christoph Sauser
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Karl Markt being chased by Jeremiah Bishop

Karl Markt being chased by Jeremiah Bishop
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Christoph Sauser

Christoph Sauser
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Jeremiah Bishop

Jeremiah Bishop
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Julien Absalon

Julien Absalon
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Absalon was first out of the start loop, and never looked back

Absalon was first out of the start loop, and never looked back
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Ready to start

Ready to start
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Ready to start

Ready to start
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Elite men's podium (l-r): Christoph Sauser, Julien Absalon and Karl Markt

Elite men's podium (l-r): Christoph Sauser, Julien Absalon and Karl Markt
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)

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."

Full Results
1Julien Absalon (France)1:31:48
2Christoph Sauser (Switzerland)0:01:20
3Karl Markt (Austria)0:01:46
4Jeremiah Bishop (United States Of America)0:02:19
5Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech Republic)0:02:33
6Kohei Yamamoto (Japan)0:03:27
7Maxime Marotte (France)0:04:38
8Magnus Darvell (Sweden)0:04:58
9Uwe Hochenwarter (Austria)0:05:14
10Rubens Valeriano (Brazil)0:05:46
11Alexander Gehbauer (Austria)0:06:15
12Hector Leonardo Paez Leon (Colombia)0:06:19
13Gerhard Kershbaumer (Italy)0:06:41
14Erik Groen (Netherlands)0:06:47
15Tony Longo (Italy)0:06:52
16Martin Fanger (Switzerland)0:07:10
17Paul Van Der Ploeg (Australia)0:07:37
18Andrew Watson (Canada)0:07:42
19Stéphane Tempier (France)0:08:00
20Lee Williams (Great Britain)0:08:30
21Jaime Yesid Chia Amaya (Colombia)0:08:42
22Lachlan Norris (Australia)0:09:25
23Kenta Gallagher (Great Britain)0:09:32
24Henrique Avancini (Brazil)0:10:27
25Daniel McConnell (Australia)0:10:37
26Evgeniy Pechenin (Russian Federation)0:10:55
27Paul Oldham (Great Britain)0:11:08
28Patrik Gallati (Switzerland)0:11:29
29Emmanuel Valencia Guadarrama (Mexico)-1lap
30Anthony O'Boyle (Great Britain)-2laps
31Seiya Hirano (Japan)
32Sebastian Batchelor (Great Britain)
33Evan McNeely (Canada)
34Jonathan Pybus (Great Britain)
35Adrien Niyonshuti (Rwanda)
36Ben Thomas (Great Britain)-3laps
37Simon Ernest (Great Britain)
38Tong Weisong (People's Republic of China)
39Chris Andrews (Great Britain)
40Christopher Minter (Great Britain)
41Tim Lemmers (Netherlands)
42James Steven (Great Britain)
43Sion O'Boyle (Great Britain)
44John Whittington (Great Britain)
45Ross Adams (Great Britain)
DNFSven Nys (Belgium)
DNFDavid Collins (Great Britain)
DNFRobin Seymour (Ireland)
DSQRourke Croeser (South Africa)

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