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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Brian Lopes
Downhill/Dual Season Begins
Dual #1
Les Gets, France: May 20, 2000

The sun finally shined here in Les Gets, for the first time in four years of racing here. Last year's mud-fest was quickly forgotten this weekend as the tech trucks rolled into this green alpine valley, and the Irish bar was quickly filled with fun-loving downhillers and jaded journalists. Dang if it isn't great to have the downhill season upon us!

With racing on both Saturdays and Sundays at these downhill/dual events, MountainZone.com will grace our dedicated readers with two stories per weekend. So here we go with the first event of the new season, the Tissot Dual World Series (formerly sponsored by parent company Swatch). And, although U.S. racing is also running this weekend in Big Bear, Ca. - most of the top talent is here in France, taking on the big-daddy world cup series.

Approximately 3,000 people showed up late Saturday afternoon for the dual training, qualifying and finals - treated to spectacular racing just as the sun was setting on this Haute Savoie region of the alps. The mountains are green this time of year, with snow-capped peaks higher up toward Mont Blanc - and plenty of local wine down below in the packed race venue. But we digress - how about that dual?

Racing began with 32 men and 16 women going head-to-head in the single elimination finals and, when the dust had settled Sabrina Jonnier (FRA, Team GT) and Brian Lopes (USA, Volvo-Cannondale) ruled the roost. The dual, which became an official world cup discipline two years ago, awards a world cup championship in the same way as the downhill with riders accumulating points throughout the season. And this year the sport will debut as a World Championship sport in Spain.

Jonnier, who last season missed most races due to her studies, gave her new GT sponsors a well-deserved win by edging out Sarah Stieger (SUI, Fiat-Rotwild) in the final run. Both men and women were going flat out at super-high speeds down the course, packed hard from several days of dry weather. In the previous run and consolation round, Malin Lindgren (SWE, Scott USA) beat Jo Leigh (GBR, Animal/Orange) for the third and final spot on the podium.

Current World Cup champion Katrina Miller (AUS, Jamis) crashed hard on the course's fastest section Saturday afternoon in training, and was taken to the hospital with a broken collarbone and a probable concussion. It's not too likely that she'll make it to the Worlds.

The first final men's race was the consolation round for third place between top qualifier Mickael Deldycke (FRA, Taillefer/Phaceia) and Wade Bootes (AUS, Trek-Volkswagen). Deldycke has lost his first round against Thomas Ryser (SUI, Cycle Craft), but Ryser received a red card for intentional obstruction of Deldycke and was eliminated from the race. Bootes - who won round seven last season in Bromont - faced and lost to Deldycke in the semi-final round.

That left the top two men to battle it out in the final run, Volvo-Cannondale teammates Brian Lopes (USA) and CÚdric Gracia (FRA) - who qualified 2nd and 4th fastest respectively. Both had clean starts and were within meters of each other for the entire run, but Lopes got in front of Gracia in the first critical turn, and never relented the rest of the way. This gave Lopes a good start to his season, after having injured his ankle in last season's round seven and subsequently losing the overall title.

Ari Cheren, looking for a local cheese factory and workin' it for MountainZone.com

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