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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Women's Start
Wicked Fast in St. Wendel
World Cup Cross-Country #4

St. Wendel, Germany: May 6-7, 2000

St. Wendel, in the southernmost corner of Germany (near Luxembourg), is a charming place to watch mountain bike racing. The fans come out in droves (25,000 this weekend), the weather has been beautiful three years running, and the racers actually go straight through a huge beer tent.

And the course is wicked fast. Once the gun goes off — at 10:30 a.m. for the women and again at 1:30 for the men — a huge pack of riders flies around this rolling green course at speeds that wear down camera batteries just like that. This weekend there were 83 women and 180 men racing, a record-setting field size.

Christophe Dupouey (FRA, Team Giant) knows a few things about these fast Euro courses, because he's won as often as anyone on them. He did it again this weekend, running his new Team Giant colors to those familiar winning results.

The weekend crowned a new winner as well, a Minnesota-based Swiss woman named Barbara Blatter (SUI, Scott USA) — winning her first World Cup with a devastating solo run off the front. Together the two races marked the season's mid way point, as different individuals have now won each of the four rounds.

Blatter's win came at the expense of American powerhouse and number-one-ranked Alison Dunlap (USA, Team GT), who put forth an impressive final lap to come within eight seconds of Blatter by the finishline. Dunlap's main objective for most of the race was simply to stay ahead of Mary Grigson (AUS, Gary Fisher/Saab), who was tied for 1st place in the overall with Dunlap.

For most of the race that worked fine, as Grigson was running outside of the top 10. But then, in the 5th lap, she made an amazing surge for the front, passing Dunlap in the process. Dunlap recovered though, burning all her biscuits to reclaim 2nd place — and the undisputed number-one ranking in the World Cup (for the second time in her career).

Until the final lap, Paola Pezzo (ITA, Gary Fisher Saab) had been working her magic in 2nd position, chasing down Blatter in the early laps and finally overtaking the lead in lap four — only to crash in the mud and lose the lead for good. She then went backward, finishing 5th as she supported teammate Grigson into the finish line.

Marga Fullana (ESP, Subaru-Specialized) was another story entirely. She had been running up front in lap one, but crashed hard on a slippery straightaway, doing enough damage to her body and psyche to lose two minute's time and that winning attitude. She nevertheless was able to work her way back up to 3rd place, making the day's second most impressive comeback.


The afternoon race was all Dupouey, even though you couldn't tell at first. He went off the front in a four-man pack, which put 20 seconds on the field within one lap. He was racing with Bas Van Dooren (NED, Be-One), Miguel Martinez (FRA, Full Dynamix) and last week's winner, Filip Meirhaeghe (BEL, Subaru-Specialized) — trading the pulling duties with Van Dooren as the two swapped leads.

Then in the fifth of seven laps, with a secondary chase group consisting of Beat Wabel (SUI) and Thomas Hochstrasser (SUI, Scott USA) bearing down on the leaders, Martinez made his move for the win and quickly put 35 seconds on the now-shattered lead group.

But Dupouey, who used to race with little Mig at Team Sunn and knows him better than anyone, was having none of it and quickly reeled in the petite prince, passing him at the end of lap six and putting on his own attack. He knew Mig didn't have the legs, and proved it when Martinez went backward two positions.

Now he only had Van Dooren to deal with, and he soon realized that the Dutch master didn't have the legs either today. So he built up a comfortable lead of 25 seconds and maintained it until the finish, where he earned yet another World Cup victory.

Dupouey and Martinez sat next to each other in the interview tent, now riding for different teams but facing the same dilemmas with countryman Jerome Chiotti's doping allegations directed squarely at them. But they admitted to racing together today, and Martinez smiled when asked about racing with Dupouey — saying it felt like three years ago at Sunn, when both were up front. We know exactly what he means.

The overall top-three standings are now identical to today's finish, with Dupouey, Van Dooren and Martinez ranked No. 1 - 3. The Tissot-UCI Mountain Bike World Cup XC series now goes to Sarentino, Italy this weekend, just outside Bolzano for round five — the final XC race before June's World Championships in Spain. There's still time to book a flight...

Ari Cheren, perplexed by German phone jacks and watching der mountainbiken, for MountainZone.com

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