Irina Kalentieva, the reigning World MTB Champ of the German Topeak-Ergon team won the women’s pro 36km XC race with a time of 1:54:57, 11 seconds ahead of Willow Koeber of Subaru-Gary Fisher team.
Earlier in the race, it was Heather Irmiger who led the pack. However, it was Koeber and Kalentieva who dictated the entire race. Their heart stopping neck to neck struggle throughout the span of the race kept the crowd on their toes well into the fourth lap and final stretch. At the final run, Kalentieva stole the win into the finish.
At this 2010 first World Cup Cross-Country race, women of the American based teams manifested tougher competition by bagging seven of the top ten spots at Dalby Forest in England on Sunday. While Irina Kalentieva taking the top spot at the podium and Willow Koeber at second; Katerina Nash of Luna Pro Team took the third, Georgia Gould placed fourth, Catherine Pendrel in the sixth, all of Luna Pro Team and coming in on the eighth spot was Marie-Helene Premont of Maxxis-Rocky Mountain, Heather Irmiger of Subaru-Gary Fisher placed ninth and Lene Byberg of Specialized Factory Racing in tenth, all of race on the American teams.
After the common edgy frantic kick off, Irminger paced the group at the end of the starting loop while coming in a tight front group was Koeber, closing in with Eva Lechna and Kalentieva. Just as he crowd were massing, Koeber, Irminger and Kalentieva were pulling away from the rest of the pack.
Much to the surprise of the crowd, Koerber and Kalentieva removed all doubts as they cruise over the line up to final stretch of the lap and have led half a minute over the chasing group of Nash, Irminger, Leumann, Bressett and Gould. Both riders on the lead have placed the chasing group at bay as they appeared to have managed their lead together. By this time the chasing group began to fall apart. Coming in to the final kilometer of the lap Kalentieva has pulled away from Koerber.
At the final lap, Kalentieva had a five seconds lead over Koerber, as she took the shorter route down at Worry Gill while Koerber taking the safer and longer way around. With a handful of seconds to spare over Koerber, Kalentieva stretched her lead consistently and coming into Dixon’s Hollow, sprinted for the finish. Coming in 11 seconds later was Koerber. At 28 seconds came Nash in third, while Gould took fourth, Julie Bressett an under-23 rider took out the top five at 53 seconds.
Kalentieva confirmed that she was really happy with the race. She admitted that it was a tough race to win. Likewise, Koerber was well pleased with her best World Cup race ever and was privileged to be riding with the champ.