Story by Charlie Livermore

I had heard how beautiful the Sarntal Valley is from both athletes and staff who have participated in Italian Cup races here in Sarentino, Italy, but like always, you can’t really appreciate true beauty until you see it with your own eyes.
Located just north of Bolzano, Sarentino is a small village of 4,500 situated in the South Tyrol area of Italy, in a picturesque valley accessible by only one road that extends 50kms from Bolzano through the valley and continues over the 2200-meter high Pennes Pass. To give you an idea of how narrow and winding this road is, the organizing committee had to close the road so that the Giant and Full Dynamics Team could negotiate their massive Team rigs through 19 tunnels in the 18km drive from Bolzano to Sarentino.
The 6.2km course, described by most of the top riders as a “true” Mountain Bike track, consists of two sections with approximately 400 meters of climbing per lap. The first section, a tough technical loop of steep ascents and descents, includes tricky switchbacks, plenty of off-camber sections and tons of slippery roots. After you survive the first section you have to shift from the granny gear to the big ring. The course changes to an open field, flat time trial that eventually winds back toward the start finish area.

With only 400 meters of climbing per lap, no one would have predicted a pure climber as the favorite, but Subaru-Specialized’s Marga Fullana was in a different world than the rest of the 70 female competitors, and in the end she had practically enough time to shower, shave (her legs that is) and cook a paella before the second place rider, the Scott USA Swiss Miss, Barbara Blatter, came across the line at a whopping 5 minutes and 15 seconds later.
Up the first climb Marga showed her stuff and only Gary Fisher-SAAB’s Paola Pezzo would dare try to match the pace. It ended up costing Pezzo too much and by the middle of the second lap she was out of the race. Behind Marga the mere mortals were battling for the remaining 4 podium spots. Blatter and the 16 time World Cup winning rider, Volvo-Cannondale’s Alison Sydor, were seesawing between 15 and 45 seconds throughout the race with Blatter gaining on the climbs and Sydor coming back to her on the tricky descents. In the end Blatter would take the second spot 42 seconds ahead of Sydor. Behind them GT’s Alison Dunlap and Great Britain’s Caroline Alexander were riding mostly together until the end when Dunlap out sprinted her rival and came across the line for 4th place just 4 seconds ahead of Alexander.
Of special note: Volkswagen-Trek’s Ruthie Matthes, who at one point was less than 10 seconds behind Alexander, and the Koulius Zaard rider Ann Trombley finished a very respectable 6th and 7th, placing 3 American women in the top 10! Good job ladies.


1. Marga Fullana ESP Subaru-Specialized 1:53:47
2. Barbara Blatter SUI Scott USA 1:59:02
3. Alison Sydor CAN Volvo-Cannondale 1:59:44
4. Alison Dunlap USA Team GT 2:00:34
5. Caroline Alexander GBR Great Britain National 2:01:22


Alison Dunlap             USA Team GT

From the beginning until nearly the end, the Full Dynamic duo of Miguel Martinez and Marco Bui together, with the World Cup leader Christophe Dupouey from Giant rode together steadily increasing their lead over Volvo-Cannondale’s Christoph Sauser and Ritchey-Yahoo!’s Thomas Frischknecht. The race was quite tactical in the front as well as in the chase group.
Behind Sauser and Frischy a pesky group of 8 riders including Giant’s Rune Hoydahl, Volvo-Cannondale’s U-23 rider Kashi Leuchs (in his finest World Cup performance to date), the Germans Carsten Bresser and Lado Fumic, the super Be-One rider Bas Van Dooren and the U-23 World Cup Leader Jose Antonio Hermida Ramos (you?ve got to shorten your name, dude) kept coming back to the Swiss duo on the mostly flat back side of the course. After the race Sauser told me that he was irritated that the group kept catching them from behind but he was happy to see his teammate Leuchs a part of that group. Finally in the last lap Sauser and Frischy’s attack on the steep technical climbs were too much to handle and they would be alone to fight it out for the 4th and 5th spots with Sauser winning that battle.
In the front the winning move seemed to come from Marco Bui, who was riding the most effortlessly of the three leaders. On the last lap he attacked on the first steep technical ascent and quickly established a 10 second gap. It was Dupouey’s responsibility to answer, and when he didn’t Martinez, in an incredible show of strength and savvy, bridged the 10 second gap to Bui and kept right on going, eventually finishing 34 seconds ahead of his teammate for the win. You have to wonder if Bui’s lack of response was a Team order considering the fact that Martinez has a much better chance for the overall World Cup, overall title, in second place now only 11 points behind Dupouey, than his teammate Bui. But that’s just my opinion!
Another notable ride from Volvo/Cannondale’s Cadel Evans who started in 64th position and in the end just nipped Bas Van Dooren at the line for 11th place. If he hadn’t got caught up in the start climb with the group that had to dismount? Watch out for this guy at the Worlds. As Cadel’s mechanic Christophe Esayian told me after the race ” I was impressed when Cadel asked me to put a 42-tooth chainring on when the majority of the riders in the field were riding a 39!


1. Miguel Martinez FRA Full Dynamics 2:12:21
2. Marco Bui ITA Full Dynamics 2:12:55
3. Christophe Dupouey FRA Giant 2:14:28
4. Christoph Sauser SUI Volvo-Cannondale 2:15:23
5. Thomas Frischknecht SUI Ritchey-Yahoo 2:15:26


Christophe Dupouey FRA Giant


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