Wolfram Kurschat fights for the lead at the Houffalize World Cup.

At the Belgian stage of the World Cup Series Kurschat was fighting for the win, Robert Mennen just missed out on the Top 30, and World Champion Irina Kalentieva finished a difficult race in 13th position.

The World Cup at Houffalize is a classic. Known to be a long and demanding course, it was a new chapter this year, with the course itself shortened to 5.4km. The demands were not minimised though, with the Belgian rain making things difficult.

In the men’s elite race, Wolfram Kurschat got off to a clean start, and quickly moved up from 24th place up to 2nd place to begin a one on one with Manuel Fumic (Cannondale) for the win. In the second from final lap, the German National Champion missed the ‘grab’ for his spare set of glasses, having lost his ones and had to ride the down hills with impaired vision. All the same it was the final lap that decided the race.

Kurschat and Fumic weren’t the only riders with their sights set on the win, and the final lap saw the Spaniard José Antonio Hemida (Merida Biking Team) close on the pair, and ride off the front. Fumic took second and Kurschat completed the podium in third. As Kurschat said following the race, “I had a great start, and was in 2nd place going into the first bit of singletrack. Losing my glasses made it difficult, but even so, I wouldn’t have been able to catch Hermida today. I am very pleased with third though”.

Robert Mennen also found his legs on the day, and got off to a perfect start. His time splits throughout showed the 25 year old to be going well, and in the main group in 26th. The final descent saw Mennen take a tumble and his eventual finish was in 31st place, just 4 seconds outside of the top 30.

Irina Kalentieva’s race meanwhile was anything but ideal. The World Champion found herself in 24th place at the end of the first lap, and fighting her way forwards saw her finish in 13th position. Kalentieva explained following the race, “I found things hard going today, and I could still feel the efforts from last week in my legs. They were still empty today.”

Following the last few weeks with the plethora of races, there is now a 2 week pause in racing, then it is back to it in Heubach, Germany for the Bundesliga. It is here that Kurschat is hoping to repeat his win from last year.


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