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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Champs Warm Up in Italia
World Cup Cross-Country #5
Sarentino, Italy: May 13-14, 2000

With the season's second-most important race — the World Championships — just weeks away, this weekend's World Cup mountain bike race in Italy was a good preview for competitors and fans alike to begin their betting on Spain's winners. Round five, held in the lush green hills of Northern Italy, was the last international cross-country race before June's big championship and the racers were ready. Two in particular were positively unstoppable.

Marga Fullana (ESP, Subaru-Specialized) — the current World Champion and Miguel Martinez (FRA, Full Dynamix), multi-time espoir World Champ — attacked Italy's tough course with wheels of fury on Sunday, giving an estimated 14,000 fans a lopsided women's event and a thrilling men's race.

The course at Sarentino is new to the World Cup after several years as the site for Italian national races. Sitting at a scenic Sarentino, 3000 feet in elevation, the well-equipped town put on a great race for their return to XC racing after a five-year absence. The course, a six kilometer gauntlet of steep climbs and rocky descents mixed with flat (and smooth) sections, had the old-school riders licking their chops and the Euro flat-landers wondering how they'd survive.

But survive they did, and in the end the women's five-lap race and men's seven-lapper rang in the UCI's 90th cross-country World Cup event on a warm, sunny afternoon.

In the morning race it was a matter of balance — or lack thereof — that had the women's field reeling and Fullana racing like a woman possessed. Professing to be angry at the theft of her bike the night before, and at the UCI drug testing "vampires" who for the second straight week tested her team, Fullana mounted an all-out attack on the field. She wanted to test herself for the Worlds, and see what she's got. And what she's got is one fast motor.

She absolutely crushed the women's field by over five minutes, as last week's winner Barbara Blatter (SUI, Scott USA) chased hard but never had a chance. Fullana put 30 seconds on the field in lap one and kept adding a minute per lap until the race mercifully ended for her competitors.

Alison Sydor (CAN, Volvo-Cannondale), looking rejuvenated after three disappointing races here in Europe, finished a strong 3rd just 45 seconds from Blatter. Fourth place went to America's top rider, Alison Dunlap (USA, Team GT) who also keeps the Tissot leader's jersey with her strong finish.

Men's racing was a polar opposite scenario; three of the sport's fastest men distancing themselves from the field and waiting for the last lap to finally shake out a winner with an all-out effort. It was a classic mix of mountain bike handling with road racing savvy.

Martinez and Dupouey
Miguel Martinez (FRA, Full Dynamix) had been working all afternoon with ex-teammate and countryman Christophe Dupouey (FRA, Team Giant), while the '99 U-23 World Champ Marco Bui (ITA, Full Dynamix) joined in the fun as Martinez's teammate. The three of them gapped the field by 1:30 and in the 7th lap realized that someone would have to attack and end this thing.

Bui decided to test the waters on a huge, steep climb out of town. He and Miguel dropped a slowing Dupouey and headed to the top of a rocky descent in full attack mode. Martinez then counter-attacked and showed the young Bui how to put a race away by dropping the hammer and finishing the lap — and race — by 34 seconds.

A couple minutes back a pair of Swiss — young-gun Christoph Sauser (SUI, Volvo-Cannondale) and legendary Thomas Frischknecht (SUI, Ritchey-Yahoo!) — next crossed the line, three seconds apart after a heated battle. Newcomer Carsten Bresser (Focus) was next up with fellow German Lado Fumic (LSP Racing) close behind him.

The cross-country crew now have a few weeks to train and fine-tune their programs for the Worlds, while the downhill circuit at last begins its season — starting with Les Gets, France next weekend.

Ari Cheren, packing the raingear and mud boots for next week's DH season… for MountainZone.com

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