2000 Mountain Biking World Cup 2000 Mountain Biking World Cup
2000 Mountain Biking World Cup
2000 Mountain Biking World Cup 2000 Mountain Biking World Cup
2000 Mountain Biking World Cup 2000 Mountain Biking World Cup
2000 Mountain Biking World Cup

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Gracia & Amour
Rocks & Rollers in Hardcor-tina
Dual Slalom #2

Cortina, Italy: May 27, 2000

Week two of the World Cup downhill circuit got off to a solid start Saturday afternoon, when a brand-new venue took its shot at hosting the largest tour in mountain bike racing. Cortina, Italy - known as the most chi-chi ski resort in Italy and featured in the movie Cliffhanger, replaced Nevegal this year as Italy's downhill venue and has so far given the several hundred racers plenty to think about.

Towering spires of solid dolomite rock overlook an ultra-steep racecourse that drops off the edge of the mountains and quickly plunges into the small ski area below in just three and a half minutes. Saturday even featured one of the world's most famous road races - the Giro d'Italia - rolling right through downtown Cortina, as the mountain bike race took place several kms up the road.

While the past few days have seen the racers train on this fast course and work a line into the pale gray rock mountain, Saturday evening feature the first World Cup event of the weekend, the Dual event at the last 25 seconds of the course.

And when it was over and the sun set on the vertical cliffs, the world's greatest female downhiller stood next to one of dual's best male racers. Anne-Caroline Chausson (FRA, Volvo-Cannondale) added to her list of achievements by winning her first-ever dual race, while teammate Flyin' Brian Lopes (USA, Volvo-Cannondale) won his second-straight race on the men's side.

While the downhill has its specialists and the dual its own group of aficionados, one woman in particular has thus far avoided crossing over from the alpine event to the fast and furious dual race.

But when Chausson learned that they were now awarding the coveted rainbow jersey for dual racing beginning this year at Worlds, she decided to keep her perfect streak alive and go for another jersey in Spain in two weeks. And why not - with current master of the sport Katrina Miller (AUS, Jamis) out with an injury? Let's race!

The light-colored rock of these dolomite mountains flew off the knobby tires of these top riders Saturday evening, as 32 men and 16 women vied for the win on the exposed ski slopes of this famous resort. With the vertical rock cliffs of the region as their backdrop, riders went head-to-head in the single-elimination format until only two men, and two women, remained.

Chausson & Donovan
Chausson, whose bike wore the number-one plate of the fastest qualifier, won every heat from start to finish, usually beating her opponents to the first critical left-hand turn. Leigh Donovan (USA, Schwinn/Toyota) came in second, staying close to her the entire run but unable to get past on the tight, serpentine course.

The two met in the final run after Donovan beat Cheri Elliott (USA, Maxxis) and Chausson beat last week's winner, Sabrina Jonnier (FRA, Team GT). Those two then went to a consolation round to determine 3rd and 4th place. Jonnier beat Elliott in the semi-final consolation round after passing the American champion on the inside of the second turn. With her finish, Jonnier remains number-one ranked, with Chausson moving into second overall.

The course at Cortina features many sharp banked turns, double and triple-jumps and tabletop to keep racers on their toes and on the edge of control. Sometimes, particularly in the men's race, riders lost control in the loose rocks and crashed, although no one was injured.

With two riders on the course it is necessary to ride very close together, as was the case when Scott Beaumont (GBR, Kona) and Eric Carter (USA, Team GT) came together in the men's quarter-finals. Carter crashed out of the race and Beaumont advanced to the semi's against Cédric Gracia (FRA, Volvo-Cannondale). Beaumont then beat Gracia to advance to the final round.

Meanwhile Brian Lopes (USA, Volvo-Cannondale) advanced to the finals by beating Karim Amour (FRA, Vouilloz Racing Team). Amour had crashed with Steve Peat (GBR, Team GT) in round of eight, in a controversial move that had the typically mellow Peaty ready to rumble against the cheating Frenchman. Amour - who already has a reputation thanks to last season's Maribor race - was later eliminated in the semi-final against Gracia in the consolation round.

Lopes went up against Beaumont in the final run, and after a self-described "terrible start," got ahead of the Englishman by the course's mid-point and won the heat to maintain his perfect record of two wins in as many tries. Lopes, who narrowly beat teammate Gracia last week, continues to wear the Tissot leader's jersey, with Gracia ranked second and Beaumont third.

Ari Cheren, hanging with infamous journalist Guido Amarone for MountainZone.com

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