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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Donovan Beats Chausson, Vouilloz Still Tops in DH
Downhill #3

Maribor, Slovenia: June 3, 2000

Just one day after a French and American dual racer won the first half of this weekend's world cup race here in Maribor, the two countries — such loving allies in all facets of the world — again shared the spotlight after the downhill race. Friday it was Anne-Caroline Chausson (FRA, Volvo-Cannondale) and Brian Lopes (USA, Volvo-Cannondale) in the dual, but today it was a different pair entirely.

Leigh Donovan (USA, Schwinn/Toyota) and Nicolas Vouilloz (FRA, Vouilloz Racing Team) were the stars of Saturday's downhill event, the two veteran racers beating top-strength fields on a hot and sunny afternoon. While for Nico it was a bit of business as usual, for Donovan it was but win number two in a consistently great career — today's win is one of her brightest jewels yet.

Thousands of fans took the chair lift to the top of the course, walked into the trees, or just sat at the finish line in the sun, watching the 80 men and 30 women come down the mountain in about four minutes time. The sun was out, the sky blue and temperatures were hot. That's the good news. The bad news is that the course resembled Southern California — dry, dusty and somewhat blown out by the end of the day.

Donovan didn't seem to mind one bit, racing for her new Schwinn/Toyota team and under the tutelage of new coach Stephane Girard. Girard also coaches Vouilloz, so it seemed appropriate that the two win early in the season.

Donovan, who is also the '95 World Champ and winner of the infamous Massanutten, VA race two years ago, won world cup numero dos today by out-riding the sport's best, Anne-Caroline Chausson. She jumped up and down, hooted and hollared and got hugs all around — not because she beat the respected Chausson so much as she's a good rider who is on her form this season.

Chausson had some trouble with a pesky tree — the same one she hit on this course last year, but otherwise didn't have any catastrophic problems. Her bike may not be working the way she'd like, but it was a well-deserved win for Donovan either way...to the tune of 1.06 seconds.

Third was another American, Missy Giove (USA, Foes/Azonic) who continues to impress by finishing in the top-three in all world cup races thus far. Her foot is still injured and she crashed hard Saturday morning, so she said she was happy to do this well all things considered. She's ranked number two behind A-C.

Two GT ladies were fourth and fifth, Katja Repo (FIN, Team GT) and Sabrina Jonnier (FRA, Team GT) continuing their consistent seasons for the Santa Ana-based bike company. Marla Streb (USA, Yeti) and Elke Brutsaert (USA, Schwinn/Toyota) flew the red, white and blue next — finishing sixth and seventh.

Vouilloz also has a new team this year (and the same coach), so for him to be winning so convincingly is also a testament to his strength and speed under pressure. He's built a brand-new bike this season with collaborator Oliver Bossard that seems to be working well — especially when you look at his results. Two wins in three races and the odds-on favorite for Worlds.

Nico qualified second-fastest behind ex-teammate Mickael Pascal (FRA, Be-One), and ahead of last season's rival Steve Peat (GBR, Team GT). Peat held the leader's hotseat for a spell until Nico unseated him by five seconds, then Pascal inserted himself in to second place at the end of the race.

Pascal, also riding on a new bike this season for his new Be-One team, said he had a good run, but it was slippery in the dust. Peat nearly crashed, but held on for third place, and fourth ranking overall. Fifth was also the top American, Kirt Voreis (USA, Subaru-Specialized) who continues to impress this season and moves up two spots in the ranking to number seven overall.

The World Cup takes a well-deserved break for a couple weeks, now headed for North America and Mont Sainte-Anne's 10th year of racing — everyone on the eastern seaboard should attend! Meanwhile, tune in next week for the UCI World Championships, in Sierra Nevada, Spain.

Ari Cheren, packing up for Paella and the Alhambra in Spain - for MountainZone.com

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