Norway's Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Merida Gunn-Rita) showed once again why she is the best female mountain biker in the history of cross-country by taking her 30th World Cup victory on Sunday during Round 5 of the XCO Mountain Bike World Cup in Vallnord, Andorra. Dahle Flesjaa joins retired men's leader Julien Absalon of France as the only two riders to break the 30 World Cup win mark in XCO.
Andorra is a unique race, with the riders racing at 2,000 metres of altitude and facing some of the steepest climbs of the season. More than one rider has gone out too fast in the early laps, only to pay for it later in the race.
Jolanda Neff (Kross Racing), the world champion and World Cup leader, got off to her patented fast start, but was quickly joined by six riders - Dahle Flesjaa, Emily Batty (Trek Factory), Anne Tauber (CST Sandd American Eagle), Maja Wloszczowska (Kross Racing), Annika Langvad (Specialized) and Kate Courtney (Specialized).
By the second lap, Neff's pace had burned off everyone, but Dahle Flesjaa was staying within a handful of seconds. Batty had suffered a mechanical problem (dropped chain), and the others were struggling with the pace. Courtney and Langvad - who came into the race only 27 points down on Neff - gradually fell back for good, while Tauber and Wloszczowska chased together, followed by Batty, who had lost 15 seconds with her forced stop.
Lap four of the six lap race proved to be critical, with Dahle Flesjaa joining Neff at the front, and Batty joining Tauber and Wloszczowska in the chase, at 38 seconds. The next lap Dahle Flesjaa attacked on the first climb and Neff couldn't respond. Batty also attacked in the chase to move into third, and looked to be catching Neff. The Swiss rider recovered slightly in the last lap to hold onto second, with Batty third.
However, the story was all Dahle Flesjaa, winning at 45 years of age in her 22nd World Cup season. This is Dahle Flesjaa's 119th World Cup start, giving her a remarkable 25% win percentage.
"This is almost beyond a dream," said Dahle Flesjaa.. "Of course, I have believed for many years that it is possible, but it is still awesome. I have to dedicate this 30th World Cup win to my sponsor Merida Norway, who are celebrating their 30th year. We have worked hard for this and I have a fantastic team; my husband is the greatest coach and training partner. In altitude you can't put the gas on too much; I think I used a lot of my experience - I have some years behind me! I had confidence from doing well here in races before. I saw that she [Neff] was starting to have stiff legs and maybe she pushed too hard on some climbs."
In the overall standings after five of seven events, Neff padded her lead on Langvad, and is now at 1250 points to Langvad's 1133. The next five spots are all within 72 points, with Wloszczowska in third at 927 and Batty in eighth at 855.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Nor)||1:22:58|
|2||Jolanda Neff (Swi)||0:00:25|
|3||Emily Batty (Can)||0:00:47|
|4||Anne Tauber (Ned)||0:01:03|
|5||Maja Wloszczowska (Pol)||0:01:22|
|6||Yana Belomoina (Ukr)||0:02:15|
|7||Githa Michiels (Bel)||0:02:33|
|8||Annika Langvad (Den)||0:02:53|
|9||Kate Courtney (USA)||0:03:15|
|10||Elisabeth Brandau (Ger)||0:03:36|
|11||Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Fra)||0:04:26|
|12||Chloe Woodruff (USA)||0:04:51|
|13||Haley Smith (Can)|
|14||Ramona Forchini (Swi)||0:05:24|
|15||Barbara Benkó (Hun)||0:05:32|
|16||Tanja Žakelj (Slo)||0:05:53|
|17||Sandra Walter (Can)||0:06:01|
|18||Adelheid Morath (Ger)||0:06:38|
|19||Linda Indergand (Swi)||0:06:41|
|20||Irina Kalentyeva (Rus)||0:07:01|
|21||Mariske Strauss (RSA)||0:07:19|
|22||Lea Davison (USA)||0:07:35|
|23||Jitka Škarnitzlová (Cze)||0:07:48|
|24||Julie Bresset (Fra)||0:08:06|
|25||Eva Lechner (Ita)||0:08:31|
|26||Perrine Clauzel (Fra)||0:08:36|
|27||Karla Štepánová (Cze)||0:08:54|
|28||Alessandra Keller (Swi)||0:09:03|
|29||Katarzyna Solus-Miskowicz (Pol)||0:09:06|
|30||Raiza Goulao Henrique (Bra)||0:09:14|
|31||Sabrina Enaux (Fra)||0:09:53|
|32||Ellen Noble (USA)||0:10:08|
|33||Jovana Crnogorac (Srb)||0:10:26|
|34||Cindy Montambault (Can)||0:10:53|
|35||Elisabeth Osl (Aut)||0:10:56|
|36||Chrystelle Baumann (Swi)||0:11:01|
|37||Agustina Maria Apaza (Arg)||0:11:19|
|38||Janika Lõiv (Est)||0:11:27|
|39||Elyse Nieuwold (Can)||0:11:59|
|40||Jaqueline Mourao (Bra)||0:12:05|
|41||Claudia Galicia Cortina (Spa)||0:13:13|
|42||Marine Groccia (Swi)|
|43||Catherine Fleury (Can)|
|44||Rebecca Beaumont (Can)|
|45||Elisabeth Sveum (Nor)|
|46||Florence Darbellay (Swi)|
|47||Mª Merce Pacios Pujado (Spa)|
|48||Paula Gorycka (Pol)|
|49||Joana Monteiro (Por)|
|50||Elena Lloret Llinares (Spa)|
|51||Luciana Roland (Arg)|
|52||Sandra Santanyes Murillo (Spa)|
|53||Lara Lois Garcia (Spa)|
|54||Alba Barrau Castan (Spa)|
|55||Amparo Chapa Lloret (Spa)|
|56||Laura Michelle Kalberg (Ned)|
|DNF||Kathrin Stirnemann (Swi)|
|DNF||Maghalie Rochette (Can)|
|DNS||Annie Last (GBr)|
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