Anne-Caroline Chausson clinches double titles; Vouilloz and Lopes win theirs; and the cross-country titles come down to the wire.
In the world of mountain bike racing, its clear that we?ve been witnessing one of the most dramatic dominations of the sport in history. No one else on record can match the claims of Anne-Caroline Chausson and Nicolas Vouilloz when it comes to racing downhill. They each added another page to their resumes at the final World Cup event of the downhill season in Leysin, Switzerland, on the first weekend of September.
Meanwhile, Brian Lopes added another title to his own remarkable record.
LOPES AND CHAUSSON TAKE TITLES IN THE DUAL
Brian Lopes and Anne-Caroline Chausson claimed the victories in the finals of the World Cup Dual event in Leysin, Switzerland, ending a remarkable year for both. For Lopes it was his seventh win in eight World Cup Dual events this year, and he easily won the Dual title for the year.
The final run for Lopes was more dramatic than the title decision. Co-finalist Michael Deldycke, a relative newcomer to the World Cup circuit, crashed in the last showdown, giving Lopes the win. Cedric Gracia beat Peter Joch in the consolation round, giving Cedric a third for the day (and a second overall for the year), while Joch ended up with fourth. World Champion Wade Bootes crashed out before making the final four, but he still ended up third overall for the year.
Anne-Caroline Chausson’s win seemed as inevitable as the one by Lopes. Her first World Cup Dual race ever was at the second event of the year. Since then she dominated this event as dramatically as she has the downhill. By the time Leysin rolled around, A-C had reportedly already clinched the title. Her win over Tara Llanes in the finals on the last day was merely the last formality in the coronation.
DUAL MENS FINALS
1. Brian Lopes….Volvo/Cannondale
2. Michael Deldycke
3. Cedric Gracia…..Volvo/Cannondale
4. Peter Joch
Overall title: Brian Lopes
WOMENS DUAL FINALS
1. Anne-Caroline Chausson…Volvo/Cannondale
2. Tara Llanes…Subaru/Specialized
3. Sari Jorgensen….Tomac
4. Lisa Sher…Foes/Azonic
Overall title: Anne-Caroline Chausson
VOUILLOZ AND CHAUSSON WIN TITLES; GRACIA WINS A FINAL
Nicolas Vouilloz and Anne-Caroline Chausson extended their remarkable run of championship titles as the fast French duo clinched the World Cup downhill titles for 2000.
Surprisingly,Cedric Gracia beat Vouilloz in the final race, but couldn?t overtake him in the Anne-Caroline Chausson took the wins in the downhill finals in Leysin, Switzerland. It was a breakthrough win for Gracia, who last won a downhill World Cup in 1998, but for Anne-Caroline, it was business as usual.
The event could not change the outcome of the World Cup downhill series title chases for 2000. The year-end titles had already been won by the almost unbeatable Nicolas Vouilloz (who reportedly had troubles on his final run starting at the top of the hill, leading to a second place finish for him here) and the equally untouchable Chausson.
With heavy rain on the morning of the downhill race, and more rain continuing throughout the day, the once fast and dusty 3.9 km course turned into one of the toughest descents of the season–a mudfest full of slick rocks, slippery roots and wet grass.
Anne-Caroline’s finals performance was especially remarkable, as the next closest woman in the race, Leigh Donovan, finished some 40 seconds slower than the flying French champion. After that, every other woman finished at least a minute further back than Chausson.
American men were shut out of any podium appearances. World champion Myles Rockwell did not finish his final run, having trouble on course during the race. And for those who have wondered what happened to Brian Lopes this year, the perennial downhill ace skipped the downhill events this year to concentrate on the dual-slalom style events (a choice that apparently paid off, given his success in that arena).
The UCI then moved around the shores of Lake Geneva for the cross-country finals the following weekend, where the Word Cup XC series would finish.
Downhill Final Results:
1. Cedric Gracia (FRA) in 6:08 min.
2. Nicolas Vouilloz (FRA)…at 9:13 sec.
3. Mickael Pascal (FRA)…at 9.83
4. Kristian Eriksson (SWE) at 12.32
5. Mickael Deldycke (FRA) at 20.13
Overall title: Nicolas Vouilloz
Womens Downhill Results:
1. Anne-Caroline Chausson (FRA) in 7:05
2. Leigh Donovan (USA) at 40.8 sec.
3. Celine Gros (FRA) at 1:00
4. Missy Giove (USA) at 1:07
5. Sabrina Jonnier (FRA) at 1:13
Overall title: Anne-Caroline Chausson
MEIRHAEGHE AND FULLANA WIN CROSS-COUNTRY FINALS, BUT MARTINEZ AND BLATTER WIN THE TITLES
The 2000 World Cup season ended on a wet weekend in Lausanne, Switzerland, with rain and mud making a mess of the riders and their bikes, but the biggest race of the year still loomed ahead. With the Olympics just three weeks away, some of mountain biking’s top stars, including Alison Dunlap and Paola Pezzo, as well as American Olympic men Travis Brown and Tinker Juarez, skipped the World Cup finals to be better prepared for the Olympic events. Others showed up to race but held back their best efforts to keep from wearing themselves out too close to the final showdown in Sydney, Australia.
In the womens field, Barbara Blatter of Switzerland, said that she only planned to ride two laps and then pull out, but once the race started she quickly found herself leading the pack with world champion Margarita Fullana of Spain close behind. Barbara decided to stay in the race and go on to get the win, but the other women in the race had other plans for her. Fullana put on a serious challenge late in the race, and Blatter lost the lead. Unfortunately for her, her legs went with it, allowing three more women to get past. Fullana ended up winning the race, with Elsbeth Vink in second, Hedda Zu Putlitz in third, Sabine Spitz in fourth, and Blatter in fifth.
Blatter got the bigger prize, however, as she clinched the World Cup title for the year. Ironically, she had decided earlier in the year to not worry about the World Cup title and had even skipped the North American rounds. Alison Dunlap, Alison Sydor (who got 15th in the final race after suffering problems with her brakes), and Margarita Fullana (the other top favorites for the Olympics)– ended up second through fourth for the year in the final standings.
WOMEN’S CROSS-COUNTRY FINALS
1. Margarita Fullana….Subaru/Specialized
2. Elsbeth Vink…Subaru/Specialized
3. Hedda Zu Putlitz…Be One
4. Sabine Spitz…Germany
5. Barbara Blatter…Scott (Switzerland)
Overall title: Barbara Blatter
MENS XC FINALS
A heavy downpour in the middle of the mens finals made for a very muddy race for the men. The conditions were the kind that have historically favored Switzerlands Thomas Frischknecht, who led for a while, but Germanys Filip Meirhaeghe, another great mud rider, came on strong later in the race. The two battled back and forth, but eventually Meirhaeghe took over the lead and went on to win, and Frischknecht followed him in for second. It was the first year since the World Cup series began that he didn?t win at least one of the races, and afterwards he acknowledged his disappointment in that fact. Roel Paulissen of Belgium got third in the race, and the redoubtable Miguel Martinez of France got fourth.
Miguel’s finish was high enough to win him the World Cup title for the year. His closest rivals for the title, Bas van Dooren and Christophe Dupouey, took 20th and 37th respectively. As with the women, some of the men seemed to be saving their strength for the upcoming Olympics. Outside the mountain bike community, most people hear nothing about mountain bike racing until it shows up on the Olympic telecast. Winning a World Cup race or title is huge in the community of mountain biking, but being in the Olympics gets a racer on world-wide television with over a billion people watching. It also wins a rider a place in the history books. Perhaps with that in mind, Australian Olympic favorite Cadel Evans, the defending World Cup champion, rode to a relatively relaxed seventeenth place finish, despite having shown during the past summer that he can still annihilate the competition at the World Cup level.
Miguel Martinez, who got a bronze at the 96 Olympics and won the World Championships earlier this year, left the World Cup series as the overall champion of the year and the odds-on favorite for Olympic gold. At least in the mountain biking community, this will have to be seen as his year.
MEN’S CROSS-COUNTRY FINALS
1. Filip Meirhaeghe…Subaru/Specialized
2. Thomas Frischknecht…Ritchey/Yahoo
3. Roel Paulissen…GT
4. Miguel Martinez….Full Dynamix
5. Thomas Dietsch…Bianchi
Overall title: Miguel Martinez