June 30/02 2:00 am - Mont Ste-Anne World Cup Women's XC: Story
Posted by Editoress on 06/30/02
Mont Sainte-Anne Cross Country: Women's XC Story
By Mike Badyk
After establishing a lead in the climbs of the first lap, Annabella Stropparo (Be One XC) maintained her half minute gap over Barbara Blatter (Specialized) for her first World Cup win in a good while. Stropparo was overcome with emotion as she granted interviews. She was crying and laughing and just plain full of joy. "I've waited such a long time for this. I kept worrying that something would go wrong in the last lap. That made it very hard. When I got through the last major climb it was very enjoyable. I was so happy on the last half of the final lap. I tried to be very smooth and not make any mistakes. I pushed hard on the climbs but I ran down the last descent because I didn't want to take any chances."
Stropparo built an early lead on the first of the major climbs. Her challengers in the early going were Blatter and Caroline Alexander, but she put the power on hard and opened up a 20 second gap by the end of the first lap. It shrunk a bit by the end of the 2nd lap, however she pushed it back up to around 30 seconds for the remainder of the race.
Blatter rode a steady strong race for 2nd place. "I planned my race for a strong last lap. I thought she (Stropparo) was going to die. When she was in front she goes fast and then dies, but this time she didn't. I had a good race but Stropparo was very strong."
After sitting in 4th for most of the race, World Champion Alison Dunlap (Luna Chix) poured it on in the last lap to claim 3rd at the expense of Jimena Florit. "I spent a long time on my own out there, but I generally like riding that way. I could always see Jimena just ahead of me so I planned to save something for the last lap. I really gave it and was able to pass her. I usually have a strong last lap anyways."
Florit was happy to make the podium. "Alison is the World Champion and she is fast. I felt steady the whole day but she caught me in the last section and just had better legs."
In 6th place was Regina Munde. "It was such a hard course. I liked the technical sections, but you really have to concentrate. There were very few spots where you could get any rest. On the climbs you had to use so much power as well."
You could always tell where home town favourite Marie-Helene Premont was on the course by the huge cheers from the spectators. "The cheering helped so much when I was hurting. It made forget the pain. I was practicing here for the last 2 weeks so I knew the course very well. It means so much to do well in front of my friends and family. They told me they were going to give me all their energy. I knew I was in great shape because I had good legs in training all week." Premont interupted her interviews to go and give her grandfather a big hug. Premont lives 10 minutes from the race in nearby Chateau-Richer.
Exceedingly pleased with her 9th place finish was Kiara Bisaro from Vancouver. "This was my best result ever. It was such a technical course. I had one big crash in the easy stuff which was kind of frustrating. The main thing was the climbing. My back is so sore."
By contrast Alison Sydor was very upset with her 10th place. "Obviously I was hoping for a little better finish. I had a good start and was riding with the front group, but it was too fast so I rode my own pace. I thought I was being conservative, but with a lap and a half to go I had nothing left. I've been struggling since I came back from Europe. I took a rest at home last week, but I just wasn't fast enough today."
Last year's MSA winner Chrissy Redden was forced out on the very first climb during the first lap by a mechanical problem with her rear derailleur. The broken derailleur pushed the chain up against the cassette and ended up doing more damage to the chain. She made a valiant effort to convert her bike into a single speed but she ran out of time and was lapped and forced to withdraw.