The latest round of the UCI World Cup Mountain Biking sponsored by Shimano was held this weekend at Houffalize in Belgium. Both 4 cross and cross country events were held for men and women. Rain on the night before made the cross country track tougher than normal with many competitors experiencing flats and buckled wheels before the race was finished. The 4 cross races were held at night under flood lighting by which time the track had dried out and a large crowd saw some excellent races.
Women’s 4 cross
The line-up for the women’s final was as expected: Jana Horakova, defending World Cup Champion Anneke Beerten (Suspension Centre), her new team mate Emmeline Ragot and Austrian Anita Molcik, the fastest qualifier. Molcik and Beerten were fastest out of the gate for the final, but tangled in the first corner, allowing Horakova to sneak through. Molcik managed to avoid going down and took second, followed by Ragot, with Beerten limping home in fourth.
Men’s 4 cross
Jared Graves was already untouchable in the men’s heats. He was joined in the final by Tomas Slavik (RSP 4 Cross Racing), Michal Prokop (Agang Racing) and Dutch mainstay Roger Rinderknecht. Once again, Graves got the holeshot, with the two Czech riders Slavik and Prokop bumping elbows through the first couple of corners before Slavik finally pulled ahead in the lower half of the run.
The action comes from the men’s final and is from MATTIAmtb
Women’s cross country
The women’s four lap race split up quickly with Eva Lechner, Willow Koerber, 2009 World Cup Champion Elisabeth Osl (Central Post) and defending Houffalize champion Marga Fullana (Massi Team) moving to the front. Despite a flat tire mid-race, Lechner quickly rejoined the leaders then charged to the front, with only Koerber able to match her pace. On the last lap, Koerber touched wheels with Lechner and had to stop and put her foot down, allowing Lechner to open a gap that she held to the finish line. The American came in second, followed by Osl, and the leading Under-23 rider, Julie Bresset (BH-Suntour).
Eva Lechner of Italy wins the women’s cross country race at Houffalize, Belgium
Men’s cross country
The men’s six lap race saw a series of upsets, beginning with a crash on the start line that blocked many of the top riders. Manuel Fumic (Cannondale Factory) escaped the chaos, and immediately gained more than 30 seconds on chasers Julien Absalon (Orbea), Wolfram Kurschat (Topeak-Ergon) and Under-23 rider Matthias Flückiger (Trek World Racing).
The chase received a blow when Absalon flatted late in the first lap. The defending Houffalize champion had to run for almost half a lap to the tech zone, dropping back to around 30th position before beginning an impressive chase back to finish seventh.
Fumic held his lead until Jose Antonio Hermida Ramos, making his way up the field after being caught in the crash at the start, caught the chasers and then Fumic at the beginning of the final lap. The 2007 Houffalize winner was then able to pull away from his rival to win the sixth World Cup race of his career.
The action is supplied in this video from frisskiss
The UCI World Cup for mountain bikes next visits Maribor in Slovenia on the weekend of May the 15th & 16th when there are 4 cross and downhill races.