1999 World Cup Mountain Biking
Napa, California
March 27-29, 1999

Iditasport Extreme
World Cup '98
Dirt Camp
Busted at Pot Peak

Gear Reviews
The Marketplace
Letters to the Editor

Cross Country Mountain Biking

Cross Country Mountain Biking

Cross Country Mountain BikingCLICK FOR
Cross Country Mountain BikingCross Country Mountain Biking
Cross Country Mountain Biking
Dunlap, Martinez Take Opener
Napa, CA: Cross-Country #1

World Cup racing headed for this hills of Napa this weekend as the Diesel- sponsored UCI tour gave up a victory to a homegirl (Alison Dunlap) and a nod to the traditional (Miguel Martinez). Blue skies, warm sun, dancing disco fembots... what more could one ask from a race?

Miguel Martinez Miguel's Hell on Wheels
Conditions in Napa Valley were perfect on race day with sunny skies and cool breezes bringing out thousands of spectators for the season’s opening salvo. With new sponsors Diesel Jeans, Volvo and Intersport signed up for ‘99, the sport looks as healthy as ever, as the teams showed up en masse for the first of eight cross-country events around the world.

Racing began on Saturday afternoon for the women, with Dunlap spotted at the breakfast buffet at the Embassy Suites host hotel the morning of the race, saying she wished the race would begin, because she was so darn nervous. Maybe she knew she was about to uncork some hurt on the other ladies that afternoon, because she later flew off the front of her race in a Wheaties-induced power move.

Dunlap had won the previous week’s XC race at Sea Otter, and was one of the favorites for the win in Napa. But, with the world cup everyone’s top priority, prognosticators knew it wouldn’t be easy – especially against the likes of Gunn-Rita Dahle (NOR, DBS), Alison Sydor (CAN, Volvo-Cannondale) and other top-ranked women. After one lap of racing, however, it was clear that Dunlap had the goods and was determined to again take her place in world cup lore.

Alison Dunlap Dunlap pushed
"I’m so overwhelmed," she said just moments after her career’s second world cup victory, tears of joy streaming down her face. Her first win had come in 1997 on a remote track outside of Budapest, Hungary, so winning in the U.S. was much more special. Dunlap is only the second American woman to win a cross-country world cup race since 1996 – and no male has done so since 1994 when Tinker Juarez won round ten.

Dunlap won by passing Sydor after one lap and putting over 30 seconds gap on her for the next hour and a half. While Dahle eventually passed Sydor late in the race to then threaten Dunlap late in the race, the Colorado Springs resident was simply too powerful Saturday, posting 29 minute laps while everyone else simply slowed down. Sydor eventually landed in third behind Dahle, the remaining top finishers decided early in the race as little movement occurred in the top-10.

Dahle Whata Dahle
Sunday’s race was as wide open as the previous days’, no one in the pressroom willing to put cold hard cash on a who’d win – the field is just too deep this season. On the first climb it still wasn’t clear who was dominant in this season’s first outing, as Michael Rasmussen inexplicably led the first climb and later DNF’d. Other early leaders were ready for the day’s six long laps, however, and included Bas VanDooren (NED, Be One), Miguel Martinez (FRA, Full Dynamix) and last season’s champ Cadel Evans (AUS, Volvo-Cannondale) - plus Jerome Chiotti (FRA, GT).

While several early ambitions crumbled, Martinez sat in second place for a couple laps and Evans chased a few spots behind him. These two rivals soon tore off the front – the familiar site of the two in heated battle causing all sorts of cow-bell ringing and screaming among thousands of sun-baked fans.

Martinez was the hot one though, gapping Cadel to the tune of 30 seconds – the Aussie unable to catch him no matter how high he upped the ante. Meanwhile, Grégory Vollet (FRA, Bianchi) had moved up from 8th to 2nd, battling with Evans for the silver. Evans finally put down that revolt, but still couldn’t reel in little Mig. "I was trying to push the pace, but couldn’t catch him," said Evans. "I was quicker on the descents and felt I controlled the pace," countered Martinez.

By the end of the day, Martinez amassed a full minute on the now-blown Evans, and Vollet did manage 3rd, ahead of last year’s winner Rune Hoydahl (NOR, Giant) who had shifting problems all afternoon. Jerome Chiotti (FRA, GT), who had lead at one point and rode strongly in the top-five all of the race, slipped to 5th by the finish, commenting that the course didn’t really suit his style, with so many technical climbs.

Dunlap and Martinez therefore received the first-ever Diesel leader’s jerseys, theirs to lose in two weeks as the world cup tests out the new Olympic track outside Sydney, Australia. With Martinez now too old to race as a U-23 espoir, Evans took the red leader’s jersey.

[Mt Biking Home] [Season Schedule]
[Worldcup Home]