IRINA WINS FIRST WORLD CUP

A clear win underlines Russian Kalentieva’s top form and secures the team a further notable success.

The reigning World Champion Irina Kalentieva confirmed her form at the World Cup in Dably Forest, Great Britain. Wolfram Kurschat and Robert Mennen also put in good performances, while Alban Lakata unfortunately had to drop out due to a mechanical.

In the English forest this past weekend, the first XC World Cup took place. The demanding and technical course was 6.5km long, and despite the difficulties travelling to the event caused by the volcanic ash problem across Europe, the field was still very well contested.

Irina Kalentieva was the first to start wearing team colours in the women’s race. Her colours, of course, dominated by the World Champion’s stripes. From the off, she was in the lead pack, and took the time to weigh up her competitors. The second lap saw the start of a one on one race between IRA and Subaru-Gary Fisher’s rider Willow Korber. The American was giving nothing away to the Russian, and Kalentieva really had to dig deep to pull the victory out of the bag. At the base of the longest climb, Irina attacked, and in the 3.5 km that remained until the finish, she managed to take 11 seconds out of Willow to win. “Following my crash last week, I am very pleased to have won today. It is the best way to start the season, a World Cup win!”

The Elite men’s race, Alban Lakata, Wolfram Kurschat and Robert Mennen lined up, expecting a good performance. The evening prior Wolfram said “World Cups are like wars. It has that much meaning, and the riding can be brutal.” From the start it was obvious how difficult it would be, as Kurschat lost a few places, however the first few laps saw him pull these back in, and it looked good for a place in the top twenty. In the end, there were too many others also hoping for this, and he crossed the line in 24th. Robert Mennen, Team Topeak Ergon’s 23 year old German rider was again showing his class. At the end of the six laps he was in 35th position and the 4th best performing German. “It was a good day for me. I am young and learning, and the race was so unbelievably fast. I am more than happy” Mennen said of his day. It was only Lakata who left disappointed. He had a mechanical on the third lap and had to drop out.

The team is now heading home, or perhaps more accurately, heading to Belgium and Houffalize. This coming weekend see the second round of the World Cup. The marathon riders, meanwhile, will be at the Bike Festival at Riva del Garda in Italy.

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