To the Ardennes: The third World Cup of the Season – Houffalize

The World Cup riders took to the start again this last weekend at the Belgian Houffalize circuit.  Set in the Ardenne, the race is considered a classic on the calendar.  It dominates the small town for the weekend, as the place is over-run by the World Cup circus.

The race itself didn’t go optimally for the former World Champion .  Losing a few places at the start, she found herself unable to make them back up.  “I have done five races in five weekends, and just didn’t really have the legs for it.”

At one point she managed to pull herself up to fourth position, but then slipped back to finish a respectable ninth – not what the Russian National Champion starts a race aiming to do.  “I am not pleased with my performance here today.  I will use it as motivation though.  In Madrid, I will have renewed energy and fight in me” Kalentieva said, voicing her frustration following the race.

For the men, the race was a duplicate of that in Offenburg.  Former German Champion Wolfram Kurschat started well, but lost many places on the first lap while finding his rhythm.  The chase was then on from 27th.  By the penultimate lap he was chasing the small group in positions 3, 4 and 5.  With a final attack he again pulled into second position, finishing behind four times World Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist Julian Absalon.  This is no mean feat, and Kurschat was overjoyed again.

“The plan came together once again” he beamed following the race.

Wolfram graces the World Cup Podium once again


Irina blasts down a steep descent


‘Go Sally, go’ not ‘die Sally die’

With one half of the team racing the World Cup in Belgium, the long distance specialists were at the Lake Garda Bike Festival.

Sally Bigham and Alban Lakata were the Topeak Ergon stars of the show, with the expectation on Austrian Marathon Champion Lakata and not so much on Bingham.  She is, after all, new to the sport, riding for just three years.  However, Lakata had a mechanical and lost contact with the lead group.  Sally, on the other hand, was outclassed only by Pia Sundstedt (Rocky Mountain) and Wipfli Antonia and finished third with a time of 5:24:26.  “It is amazing.  I trained hard through the winter, but that it would be good enough to mix it up with the best in the World, well that is a revelation” the Brit said following the race.  Lakata’s race finished with a sixth position – Still very respectable although he wasn’t entirely happy.  “It goes to show that winning is about performance, but also a small amount of luck”.

Also riding at the event was Ergon’s Director of R&D  and Benny Brochhagen, Team Press Officer.  They finished in places 38 and 17th respectively.

Finally, one small aside.  Throughout the race Sally reported people shouting “Dai Sally, dai”.  It motivated her, although one wonders if it was very sporting to wish such things on an athlete.  It was only later, equipped with a phrase book did she realise that they were pushing her forwards shouting ‘Go, Sally, So’.


Third place in Riva.  Sally on the Podium


The Team in Riva. Kim, Sally, Alban and Benny (right to left)


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