Leboucher Goes Wire to Wire for Victory

Posted by Editor on 9/20/98.

Franceís Laurence Leboucher led the entire race of the 1998 World Championships. In what appeared to be a near suicidal move, she sprinted hard from the start and just pounded through the Start Loop. Alison Sydor of Canada, the race favourite, followed her closely but did not appear to be too happy with this lightning fast beginning to what would turn out to be a gruelling race for the World Cup Champion.

Leboucher was incredibly strong through the first half of the first lap, and by the time the riders reached a steep drop in the woods (just jammed with spectators), she had an 11 second lead on Gunn Rita Dahle of Norway, and 40 seconds on Sydor. Rounding out the top 10 were: Margarita Fullana of Spain, Alison Dunlap of the United States, Annabella Stropparo of Italy, Chrissy Redden of Canada, Paola Pezzo of Italy, Caroline Alexander of Great Britain, and Hanneke Geysen of Australia.

The race, more or less, remained the same for the duration. Pezzo dropped out on lap 2 after dropping down to 13th place at the 2nd feed zone. She was standing and pedalling, and appeared to be in great difficulty. She blamed her retirement on back spasms and a pedal problem. Leboucher continued to strengthen her position, increasing her lead to 54 seconds on Dahle, and 2:31 on Sydor, 3:43 on Stropparo, and 4:10 on Dunlap. Dahle and Dunlap appeared to be struggling, but managed to hold on to their positions. Chrissy Redden was having a fine race, maintaining 7th position at 5:37 back. Behind Redden, Sandra Temporelli of France moved into 8th and Lesley Tomlinson of Canada into 9th.

Through the fourth lap, Dahle would gain 10-15 seconds through the technical sections of the race course, but Leboucher would put the hammer down on the wider and flatter sections. Behind Dahle, Sydor continued to lose ground, falling back to 3:05. The rest of the order remained the same, with the only tight race being between Temporelli and Tomlinson.

At the finish Leboucher came across at 2:12:40, with Dahle 1:53 back and Sydor 4:18 back. The remainder of the top 10 were: Stropparo, Dunlap, Fullana, Redden, Temporelli, Tomlinson and Alexander. Alexanderís 10th place was at the expense of Geysen, who had difficulties on the final lap, finally finishing in 12th 13:03 back.

The ride of the day went to Canadian Amber Chorney. She has previously done one World Cup in her life. The 23 year old Vancouverite just started racing as an Expert last year and moved to Elite only this season. Without any World Cup Points she started almost at the back of the pack, but gained steadily throughout the race to finish in 13th position. The fans went wild every time she came through. This kept her grinning from ear to ear for the entire race. If possible the grin got wider every lap. With a ride like this, she is sure to be a force to be reckoned with in the future and to be actively courted by the major teams this winter.

Quotes and Notes

Laurence Leboucher - ìI wanted to test my legs on the first climb, and at the same time test my opponents. I wanted to be at the front to manage the race instead of being behind chasing. I realized I was having a great day and that I could win on this course. I was expecting to have to fight with Alison and Gunn Rita for the first place.î

Alison Sydor - ìI felt a little flat today. I knew it would be a long hard race so I had to pace myself and hope the ones in front went out too strong. Iíd lie if I pretended that I wasnít disappointed, but I have to realize that the World Cup was the hardest fought in history and was only two weeks ago, so when I think about it later I wonít be too disappointed.î

Gunn Rita Dahle - ìThis is the biggest day in my career. I think I did as good a race today as two weeks ago (when she won the WC Final). I just couldnít go with Leboucher. I didnít want to blow up in the beginning. She was stronger in the climbs and the descents were too short for me.î

Chrissy Redden - ìI was alone most of the race. I tried to take advantage of this and go faster on the single track, but it is harder to push by yourself. I received word that I was catching Margarita (Fullana) at the end, but it was too little too late.î

Lesley Tomlinson - ìThe way things have gone this year, I am very happy with my result. Chrissy had the confidence to go across to the front early in the race, but I just rode more conservatively. Towards the end I would start to catch Temporelli and then drop back - it was impossible to sneak up on anybody because of the cheering!î

Amber Chorney (13th -13:51 back) - ìI was beyond intimidated by the competition! At the end I started to get into a rythmn and then it didnít hurt any more. It was a beautiful trail. I was afraid it might be too long, but it was totally fine. I was gaining time on the downhills, sometimes passing 5 or 6 people.î

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