It must have been the weather or something, but the Swiss began this year’s open confrontation in the men’s XC race at the Offenburg XC World Cup. However, Julien Absalon of France came out the victor. In the women’s category, Catharine Pendrel celebrated sweet victory due to her win.
Earlier this week, the tracks of Offenburg has been drenched and there seem to be a few slippery spots, nevertheless, the burning weather and clear nights prevailed making the technical trademark obstacles like the “Wolf’s Drop”, the “North Shore”, the “World Class Drop”, and the “Snake Pit” irrelevant.
The race kicked off at 10:45 am. Georgia Gould, a Luna rider immediately took the lead in the early pre lap. At the start of the second lap, her teammate, Catharine Pendrel, the Canadian National Champ bridged the gap between them as the chase group of Elisabeth Osl, Julie Bresset, Esther Suss, Eva Lechner and the rough rider Marie-Helene Premont were soon at their heels. Pendrel slowly rode down a gap between herself and Gould. Pendrel finished with her second World Cup win. Gould persisted to make second place, 28 seconds behind Pendrel.
Loosing her footing, Willow Koerber finished 13th, handing down the leader’s jersey to Pendrel. It is still anybody’s race for the overall title for the World Cup. Mary McConneloug was the second US rider to the finish line clocking 3:44 good enough for the 10th place. Katie Compton was in the 19th while Heather Irmiger made it at the twenty-first place.
The men’s race kicked off about two hours later as two hundred and forty six men stampeded around the opening circuit as expected. The usual strong contenders of the World Cup field, Nino Schurter, Absalon and Jose Hermida were all in the key positions for an assault. It was Schurter, the reigning World Champ, zooming away first from all. Absalon was riding it easy and evaluating the Swiss rider’s move. Absalon came in almost a minute ahead of the World Champ after widening the gap on the winding longest climb in the third lap.
Geoff Kabush, the top North American rider, felt he was in good shape but got caught up on traffic on the pre-lap. “I started the first lap in fortieth position,” he said, “Not so hot but fifteenth on the day? I’ll take it. I think I passed about ten dudes on that lap, so I definitely have the legs.” The remaining North Americans didn’t fare good enough were Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski in 40th place, Todd Wells was in 60th while Sam Schultz made it at the seventy-fifth.
It was Absalon’s fourth consecutive win at Offenburg regaining the overall leader’s title at the World Cup from Schurter.