Dalby Forest proves great venue for Mountain Biking's World Cup

Last week we told you the upcoming UCI World Championships for mountain biking were starting their series of races at Dalby Forest in North Yorkshire, England. In conditions that were good for mountain biking it was the past champions who were victorious in the first round of the 2010 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup.

At the end of their races both Irina Kalentieva (Topeak Ergon) and Nino Schurter (Scott Swisspower), already in possession of the World Champion rainbow jerseys, also claimed the World Cup leaders’ jerseys.

The 6.2 kilometre course won high praise from the riders, who deemed it a true mountain bike course. Spectators came out in droves to cheer on the riders.

Kalentieva won the women’s 36 kilometre, five lap race in a time of 1h 54min 57s, beating American Willow Koerber (Subaru-Gary Fisher) by 11 seconds. The Czech Katarina Nash (Luna) finished third. Kalentieva and Koerber quickly distanced themselves from the remainder of the field, while many of the top favourites struggled on the first lap.

“We were able to work together very well,” said Kalentieva. “Willow was better on the climbs, and I was better in the technical parts, and we worked together to open a bigger gap. On the final lap I was able to get in front for the longer climb, and then opened a small gap that was just enough to keep to the finish.”

Switzerland’s Schurter won the men’s 43 kilometre race in a finish very similar to last year’s World Championships, when he outsprinted Olympic Champion Julien Absalon (Orbea). Again, it came down to a sprint between the two, with Schurter winning by less than a wheel length. Burry Stander (Specialized) of South Africa took third, 14 seconds behind.

The six-lap men’s race started very fast, with eight riders initially battling it out at the front of the field. By the fourth lap this leading group had whittled down to three: Schurter, Absalon and Stander. The South African looked to be the strongest, but a mistake on the last lap allowed the other two to get away. Absalon set the pace and took the lead, but he could not shake Schurter. When they turned onto the gravel finishing straight, the Swiss rider came up alongside his French rival and pulled ahead in the final 10 metres to take the win.

As you can see in this video from frisskiss is was a very close finish.

“This is an incredible victory. To win the World Cup race and take the leader’s jersey is very special,” said Schurter. “I hoped to do well here, but there was a very, very strong field, so I was only looking to make the podium.”

The UCI Mountain Bike World Cup continues next weekend in Houffalize, Belgium, with round two of the cross-country series, and round one of the 4X series

In the video below from montriff more action from the Dalby Forest event can be seen.

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