Posted by Editoress on 05/18/12
Round three of the Cross-country Eliminator at UCI Mountain Bike World Cup once again saw new faces on the top step of the podium. Held in the streets of the host village La Bresse, the French community embraced the event, with spectators lining the course. Switzerland's Patrick Lüthi took the men's title, while Junior rider Jenny Rissveds from Sweden won the women's.
The 725 metre course started on the main street of La Bresse, before cutting across a river via a footbridge, and over a steep bridge. From there the riders headed up a small climb to a church yard, where they hit what proved to be the biggest obstacle of the race - a set of stairs in frnt of the church that led to a number of crashes and flat tires, when riders hit the base too hard. After a few tight turns through narrow streets, the riders then went down a narrow ramp and into the town square, before circling around the end and hitting one final corner before the sprint to the line.
Jenny Rissveds wins
In the women's final, Rissveds was joined by countrywoman Alexandra Engen (Ghost), the winner of round two, Kathrin Stirnemann (Sabine Spitz Haibike) and Australia's Rowena Fry. Not making the final were favourites Anneke Beerten (Milka-Superior), who flatted while leading her semi-final race, and Great Britain's Tracy Moseley, who crashed in her semi-final. Rissveds had a very strong start in the final, hitting the turn to the footbridge first, just ahead of Engen. The two Swedish riders then held off Stirnemann to take the top spots.
The 17 year old Rissveds screamed as she crossed the finish line, ecstatic at her win. "It is awesome to win this race. It was very hard, I tried to take the lead at start because it was important to be very tough and be first through the first corner. Then it was just to to stay ahead to the finish. It is awesome to have two Swedish riders on the podium. Alexandra (Engen) means a lot to me. She has taught me very much."
Round one winner Brian Lopes was one of the strong favourites for the men's race, since the tight, technical course suited the skills of the former 4-cross world champion. Lopes qualified second, behind Miha Halzer (Energijateam.com), with Lüthi qualifying fourth. They were joined in the final by Stefan Peter (MTB Kader Zentralschweiz).
Peter got the holeshot at the first corner, when Lopes and Halzer both had poor starts. The American moved up to third, behind Lüthi, but was thwarted in his attempt to move up to second in the corner following the stair descent. However, Lüthi was successful in overtaking Peter just before the ramp descent and held on for the win ahead of Peter, with Lopes rolling in third.
Patrick Lüthi wins
"It is just unbelievable to win my first World Cup," commented Lüthi. "I never thought I would be in this place. I thought it might be difficult to qualify and now I am here ... just unbelievable. I think it is very hard, this race. The winner could have been anyone. It is just great to be the one."
"I think this was the best course of the season," commented Lopes. "I was doing well up until the semi-final, when I had to work really hard to get into second. Then, there wasn't much time to recover before the final, and I had a bad start. I managed to get into third and then tired to nudge [Lüthi] to get into second, but I guess I didn't nudge him enough ...After that, I just rode to keep third."