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22/04/2014 - A maiden World Cup win for impressive Carpenter.

Pietermaritzburg - Madison Saracen Factory Team star Manon Carpenter produced the run of the day as she powered her way to her first ever World Cup win in the women’s Downhill at the first UCI MTB World Cup, presented by Shimano, ahead of fellow Brit and current World Champion, Rachel Atherton at the Cascades MTB Park on Saturday, ending a week of total domination of the women’s downhill competition.




With a major challenger in Emmeline Ragot picking up a puncture during her run, effectively ruling her out of contention, it was always going to be a race between the two British riders and it was the young Welshwoman that was too fast for Atherton – who was battling with illness all week.



“I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season because I was really stressed coming into this race so I am just really glad that I managed to pull it off today,” an elated Carpenter said.
"I was feeling good after practice yesterday and then it got really loose at the top and bits were getting blown out so I was nervous and I had a few moments so I said that I didn’t want to do that in my race run but I’m just glad I got a smooth run in.”
"

Having missed out on a chance at the World Championships at the same venue last year following an unfortunate crash Carpenter was determined to make up for that when she returned this week and she produced the performance of the weekend to claim the series leader’s jersey by four seconds.

“
"I really like this track, I crashed at the World Champs last year which I was gutted about because I thought that I had a chance so I was looking forward to coming back here and it is nice that it is the first race and a nice one to start on so I feel good for the rest of the season!” the Swansea resident added positively.






Having been on a drip a day before qualifying, GT Factory Racing’s Rachel Atherton bit the bullet and rode to a determined second in the women’s downhill final after she was a doubtful starter earlier in the week. 



“I was pretty sure that I wasn’t going to be able to race this weekend, the doctor here was amazing and he really sorted me out,” a satisfied Atherton explained.
“It has been a tough fight and a long weekend but I am absolutely stoked that I could come away with second place it is beyond what I imagined I could do and it completely blew my mind!”



Atherton proved her pedigree after she battled the flu during the week and only having one day of training again proved that she is a deserved World Champion after having to rely a lot on her memory of the course from the only other time she had ridden it seven months ago. 



“Having missed that first day of practice and then going into the qualifying yesterday just thinking that I have to ride the track that I know what I am doing and just kind of pretend a little bit and I remembered the course so well from World Champs last year so I just went out there and just had to do what I had to do!” she concluded proudly. 


RESULTS - 2014 UCI MTB WORLD CUP PIETERMARITZBURG, PRESENTED BY SHIMANO
DOWNHILL FINAL 

Elite women

1. Manon Carpenter (Madison Saracen Factory Team) 4:34.923

2. Rachel Atherton (GT Factory Racing) 4:38.831

3. Jill Kintner 4:44.041

4. Myriam Nicole (Commencal/Riding Addiction) 4:44.651

5. Emmeline Ragot (Lapierre Gravity Republic) 4:44.662

6. Tracey Hannah (Hutchinson UR) 4:48.045

7. Tahnee Seagrave (FMD Racing) 4:52.285

8. Morgane Charre (Evil Vengeance Tour) 4:52.400

9. Emilie Siegenthaler (GSTAAD-Scott) 4:58.117

10. Fionn Griffiths 5:00.973


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22/04/2014 - Absalon reigns supreme at Maritzburg MTB World Cup.

Pietermaritzburg – The 2014 UCI MTB World Cup, presented by Shimano, at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg came to a thrilling end with the elite men’s cross country final that saw Julien Absalon claim his maiden victory in South Africa.




BMC MTB Racing’s Absalon started slowly but soon found himself locked in a titanic tussle with Pietermaritzburg favourite and three time winner at the venue, Nino Schurter of SCOTT-Odlo MTB Racing, and the expected fascinating final two laps had the large crowd abuzz with excitement.

The contest was however dashed shortly after the midway point of the penultimate lap when Schurter punctured his rear wheel, opening the doorway for Absalon to power home unchallenged to claim the win.



“I’m really happy. It’s great to win the first World Cup, especially with it being here in South Africa where I crashed twice and broke ribs at last year’s World Champs,” Absalon after his 27th World Cup race victory.
“I wasn’t the fastest downhill and I arrived a little bit stressed after my two crashes last year. I wasn’t really feeling comfortable in the Tree House rock garden but I did a safe line, maybe not the fastest but a safe one, and the feeling and shape was good so I was happy.

“
"I used a lot of energy during the first lap to overtake about fifteen guys. Once I got up to Nino it was a nice fight though. He was very fast in some of the technical sections but then he got a flat tyre."



Smelling blood, Absalon took full advantage of the opportunity and charged ahead, knowing all too well that then third placed Manuel Fumic of Cannondale Factory Racing would soon discover Schurter’s misfortune as well.



“When I saw his flat I knew I had to go full gas. I also knew Manuel (Fumic) was not far behind and pushing hard so I only thought about going full gas to the finish line!

Schurter will miss the second leg of the World Cup series in Cairns, Australia due to a rare appears in a major road race and so Absalon’s Pietermaritzburg victory gives him a notable advantage in the race for the overall World Cup title.

“
"I will return to France tomorrow for one week’s training at home, then I go back to Australia and hopefully I can arrive back in Europe after that still with the leaders jersey!

"




After surging past a helpless Schurter, Fumic gave it his all to reel in the leader however risking losing his second place, and its all-important respective UCI points, wasn’t something the German star was willing to do.



“I thought I could win at least once here in Pietermaritzburg but there was no shame finishing behind Julien today and today I proved again that I can ride really well on the Pietermaritzburg course,” said the bubbly character.


“My tactics were to always try be more or less in the front, especially through the technical sections, because then you have the freedom of choosing your own lines."


“In the end Nino was a bit unlucky with his puncture and so I managed to get past him and then I just fought as hard as I could for my second place.

“
"I love South Africa, I spend the European winter here. I love the country and Pietermaritzburg and it was just another really a good day here for me again,” he added.



Marco Fontana of BH-Suntour-KMC put in a consistent effort throughout the contest and deservedly claimed third place while a gutsy Schurter eventually crossed the line in sixth position.



“It’s obviously disappointing, I was in a good position and I was just trying to put Julien in the hurt box after I’d recognized he was starting to have a few troubles,” said Schurter.


“Unfortunately I flatted and in quite a bad place too so I had to ride quite a far way with the flat, but that’s racing.

“
"I had quite a lot of good luck here in the last three years, this one was unfortunately the one with the bad luck!

“
"When you see guys flying past you it’s always a bad feeling but it’s happened to everyone and you have to accept it. Hopefully next time I will have better luck and be back for more podiums,” added the World Champion.

The world class course laid out by course designer Nick Floros received rave reviews from the vast majority of the riders.

There were however an unfortunate few who came unstuck, particularly in the elite men’s cross country race, with South Africa’s Tyron Bird (Quattro) being one of the casualties as he went over the handlebars and his teeth pierced his bottom lip, ironically in the newly built Red Lipped Herald stretch.

The elite men’s cross country event marked the end of the global showcase and the seven-leg circuit now shifts to Cairns, Australia in two weeks’ time.




RESULTS - 2014 UCI MTB WORLD CUP PIETERMARITZBURG, PRESENTED BY SHIMANO
CROSS-COUNTRY 

Elite Men

1.Julien Absalon (BMC MTB Racing) 1:38.05

2.Manuel Fumic (Cannondale Factory Racing) 1:38.39

3.Maxime Marotte (BH-Suntour-KMC) 1:38.59

4.Ondrek Cink (Multivan Merida Biking Team) 1:39.37

5.José Hermida Ramos (Multivan Merida Biking Team) 1:39.44

6.Nino Schurter (SCOTT-Odlo MTB Racing) 1:40.21

7.Thomas Litscher (Multivan Merida Biking Team) 1:40.24

8.Mathias Fluickiger (Stockli Pro Team) 1:40.29

9.Daniel McConnell (Trek Factory Racing) 1:40.42

10.Sergio Mantecon Gutierrez (Trek Factory Racing) 1:40.56

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22/04/2014 - U23: Sarrou & Rissveds win in hot & dusty Pietermaritzburg.

Pietermaritzburg – The under-23 men’s and women’s cross country races of the UCI MTB World Cup, presented by Shimano, season opener in Pietermaritzburg saw Jordan Sarrou and Jenny Rissveds overcame not only their fellow competitors but the hot and dusty conditions of Cascades MTB Park as well en route to their respective victories.






The under-23 women’s race was a no contest with SCOTT-Odlo MTB Racing team rider Jenny Rissveds producing a near flawless performance as she claimed victory by 36 seconds and her first ever World Cup cross country triumph.


“It feels amazing to have won!” said the 19 year old Swede.
"It is my first World Cup cross country win and so I’m really happy!"
"

Conditions were brutal throughout the clash and, despite being the first race of the day out the blocks, temperatures were already uncomfortable midway through the clash.

 It was a tough race because it was really hot and I’m very relieved we started at 9 o’clock in the morning!" said Rissveds.


"The first lap was really tough and then I tried to keep focused and cool down a bit for two laps before accelerating a bit again on the last lap. I made a big mistake in the rock garden on the last lap. I didn’t crash but I had to get off my bike and run down the whole rock garden but other than that I had a great race and didn’t make a mistake.”



The rejigged Cascades MTB Park cross country course has been well-received by the vast majority of riders and Rissveds echoed this sentiment having spent many hours out on course in training beforehand.



“I tried a lot of different lines in training, especially in the new rock garden, which I think helped me today. I like the new course, its tough, technical and fast.

“
"It was hard to keep pushing. During the middle laps I heard that the girls were catching me a little and that was tough to hear but I just looked to stay focused and keep positive and just keep pushing to the finish,” an elated Rissveds mentioned.



The race took a dramatic turn towards the back end of the encounter after third ranked rider Jovana Crnogorac (Salcano Alanya) crashed twice during her opening lap and ending her charge for the win. 

Fourth place finisher Helen Grobert (Focus XC Team) then made a costly error in the Tree House rock garden on the second to last lap, losing valuable seconds and allowing a charging Perrine Clauzel (BH-Suntour-KMC) to leapfrog both Grobert and third place finisher Lisa Rabensteiner (Focus XC Italy) to claim second place while South Africa's Candice Neethling (Velo Life/BMC-SA) finished ninth.






Shortly after the conclusion of their female counterparts it was the turn of the under-23 men and as the mercury continued to rise there was no respite for the young men.





Solo ride for Jordan Sarrou

Cannondale Factory Racing’s Anton Cooper was the quickest out the blocks to claim the hole shot but it was soon the BH-Suntour-KMC’s duo of Sarrou and Victor Koretzky who surged to the front and went about setting a blistering pace. 

Disaster struck Koretzky early in the second lap though as he broke his chain, ending his title hopes and leaving it up to Sarrou to fly the team’s flag. And fly it he did.



“I’m very happy to have won the first World Cup of the year and to take the leader’s jersey!” said Sarrou afterwards.
“I went into the lead right in the beginning and I didn’t let it go for the rest of the race!

“
"The course is even better than it was for the World Champs last year. It was very technical and with it being as warm as it was, I’m very happy I felt so good and could get the win.”



Giant Pro XC’s Michiel van der Heijden recovered from a poor start to finish in second place while betch.nl Superior Brentjens MTB Racing Team’s Grant Ferguson claimed his maiden World Cup podium as he claimed third.

The host nation’s flag also billowed proudly in the dusty breeze after Trek Racing South Africa’s James Reid got the better of Cooper in the final few hundred meters to finish fourth, equaling his 2012 PMB World Cup result.



“It’s nice to be up where I was two years ago,” said Reid.
“I’ve always believed I’ve had that kind of shape but it’s taken a full two years to get back up to where I was when I last got a fourth in Maritzburg.

“
"I’m going well at the moment but I took a bit of a knock when I went to the States recently and had my eyes opened to just how fast I actually needed to be so I came and really put my head down and worked hard in the build up to the World Cup.”



Slow off the mark meant Reid’s top three hopes were dashed early on but the local lad was still happy with the final outcome.



“Today was good. I had a poor start and was slightly off the lead group in the first few minutes which meant it was kind of decided up front already. So I got locked into a bit of a ding-dong battle with (Anton) Cooper.

“
"It was a tough position to be in because had I tried to go after third I may have gifted fifth a free ride with me.

“
"Anton and I ended up going a similar speed for much of the middle part of the race before tactics came into play in the last lap. Cooper had been getting quicker little by little so on the last lap I decided just to go for it and fortunately he couldn’t stay with me.

“
"I’m stoked to get the World Cup season off to a good start. Stoked to be in the top five, podium would have been nice but I’ll take it!”



Reid also showed his appreciation of the support he received from the home crowd at Cascades.



“I grew up about 20 minutes away from here so there were a lot of old friends here and the Maritzburg crowd really helped me enormously.

“
"It’s also really good for the South African public to see that we do have the cross country potential here in SA,” Reid concluded.




RESULTS - 2014 UCI MTB WORLD CUP PIETERMARITZBURG, PRESENTED BY SHIMANO 

Cross-Country 

Under-23 Men
1.Jordan Sarrou (BHB-Suntour-KMC) 1:22.58
2.Michiel van der Heijden (Giant Pro XC) 1:23.56
3.Grant Ferguson (betch.nl Superior Brentjens MTB Racing Team) 1:24.20
4.James Reid (Trek Factory SA) 1:24.58
5.Anton Cooper (Cannondale Factory Racing) 1:25.25
6.Victor Koretzky (BH-Suntour-KMC) 1:25.50
7.Pablo Rodriguez Guede (MMR Bikes Pro Team) 1:26.21

8.Julian Schelb (Multivan Merida Biking Team) 1:27.24

9.Julien Trarieux (Bridgestone Anchor Cycling Team) 1:28.35

10.Keegan Swenson (Cannondale Factory Racing) 1:29.10



Cross-Country Under-23 Women

1.Jenny Rissveds (SCOTT-Odlo MTB Racing Team) 1:21.30

2.Perrine Clauzel (BH-Suntour-KMC) 1:22.06

3.Lisa Rabensteiner (Focus XC Italy) 1:22.10

4.Helen Grobert (Focus XC Team) 1:22.55

5.Lisa Mittenbauer (Feenstra Felt PB Kenda Bike Team) 1:24.27

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