Kaprun, Austria: August 12-13, 2000
Anne-Caroline Chausson (FRA, Volvo-Cannondale) and Brian Lopes (USA, Volvo-Cannondale) picked up right where they left off last month in dual racing this weekend, when the leaders of the head-to-head series won yet another round of racing in the Tissot-UCI Mountain Bike World Cup.
Racing under warm and sunny conditions and surrounded by thousands of boisterous fans, the two V-C riders flew down a smooth grassy slope of hillside to claim their sixth victory in the eight-race series.
The mountain bike World Cup seems to feel most at home in Europe and returned to the continent this weekend for the tried and true venue of Kaprun, Austria, set in a scenic valley of the Alps. After three weeks of NORBA racing stateside, American and international racers converged on this long-time race site along with a multitude of spectators and dorffest revelers.
The dorffest is a huge street festival that tests Austrian's ability to eat massive amounts of sausage and simultaneously down huge steins of beer. They do pretty well and make a great weekend of it...watch the mountain bike races by day, party by night. The RockShox crew, just starting their workday, reported seeing revelers from the famous Baum Bar getting booted from the bar at 8am!
Racing began on Saturday with the Dual event at the end of the day, huge crowds bouncing to the techno beat of the PA and watching some sweet racing as the sun set over the glaciers of the Alps. With Lopes and Chausson holding virtual locks on the overall series, one might expect them to take it down a notch. But they didn't and won in style against their closest points chasers.
The course in Kaprun is smooth and fast, with nice berms holding the bikes on their lines between short flights over triple-jumps, table-tops and other various obstacles.
The men's brackets pitted Lopes and Gracia against each other in the finals, where they were even into the first hard left-hand turn when Gracia hit a course pole and lost some time. But he made it up and was again side-by-side with Lopes coming down a steep slope into a fast and grassy right-hand turn and that's where the Frenchman lost it. He slid out on the inside and flew across the track, as Lopes cruised to an easy victory and win.
With his sixth win in seven tries, Lopes has the series tied up now, with 315 points. Gracia holds the No. 2 spot with 161 points.
Anne-Caroline Chausson (FRA, Volvo-Cannondale) has a record similar to Lopes, as she also came into this week's race with a lock on the overall series. She has won every single dual she's entered this season, with a perfect record since beginning in round two. Chausson had the final run won soon after it began, the two women taking a hard left and a right before the course allowed them to choose their own line and race directly against each other on the same track.
She had beaten Leigh Donovan (USA, Schwinn/Toyota) and Sabrina Jonnier (FRA, Team GT) to get to the finals, while Llanes had beaten Sarah Stieger (SUI, Fiat-Rotwild) and Missy Giove (USA, Foes/Azonic). Giove was also given a red card as a result of her run against Llanes.
In the consolation round, World Champion Wade Bootes (AUS, Trek-Volkswagen) beat the winner of last year's Kaprun race, Eric Carter, to capture 3rd place in the men's round. Sarah Stieger (SUI, Fiat-Rotwild) beat Leigh Donovan (USA, Schwinn/Toyota) to settle the women's round.
Sunday brings out the semi-final and final run of the downhill race, as we will wrap up the second-to-last World Cup downhill race of the season.
Ari Cheren, headed out for the dorffest, for Mountainzone.com
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