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2006 MTB/Trials Worlds — XC Elite Men’s Report

August 28, 2006 (Rotorua, New Zealand) – In an incredibly exciting Elite Men’s race, a victor was not determined until the climb on the last lap.

Ralph Näf, Christoph Sauser from Switzerland, Fredrick Kessiakoff (Swe), and reigning champion Julien Absalon (Fra) established themselves as the contenders as they rode away on the first lap. Geoff Kabush (Can), who felt the effects of riding the start loop in third position, finished the lap in 24th position. Kabush’s teammates, Ricky Federau, Seamus McGrath and Mathieu Toulouse did not start well and were well back.

As the lead group of Sauser, Näf, Kessiakoff and Absalon worked well together off the front, several chase groups began to form behind. Oliver Beckinsale (GBR) and Florian Vogel (Sui) were 45 seconds down while a large group containing, among others, former world champions, Bart Brentjens (Ned), Thomas Frischknecht (Sui) and Filip Meirhaeghe (Bel) was thirty seconds behind. McGrath was steadily moving forward now in 36th while Kubush maintained his position.

An attack by Sauser dropped Näf on the climb while Alsalon’s descending skills gapped Kessiakoff on the third lap. Vogel, Beckinsale, and Hector Leonardo Paez Leon (Col) chased well together 1:30 down. McGrath and Ricky Federau (Can) both worked their way forward to finish the lap in 37th, and 38th. Kabush dropped off the pace sliding back to 44th position.

Kessiakoff, climbing well, caught the leaders but Absalon again attacked the descent and dropped both he and Sauser. Näf and Paez Leon were alone in 4th and fifth position. A very strong chase group formed containing Vogel, Beckinsale, Brentjens, Meirhaeghe, Frischy, Jean Christophe Peraud (Fra) and 24hr racer Jeremiah Bishop (USA). Fans were less than cordial with Meirhaeghe with a “Dope! Dope! Dope!” chant being led by some American fans. McGrath picked up four spots to finish the lap in 33rd.

Starting lap five with a 5-second advantage on Sauser and Kessiakoff, Absalon put the power down but could not open much of a gap on an incredbly tenacious Sauser. Kessiakoff began to struggle with the pace and backed off. Absalon was clearly the smoothest through the rock garden but Sauser, nearly out of control, was not prepared to let the rainbow jersey escape him again without a fight. Näf and Leon Paez remained in “no man’s land” in fourth and fifth. Elder statesmen Frischy and Bartman Brentjens showed the young riders in their group how to descend on a mountain bike as they continued to give chase. Vogel lost contact after severly taco-ing his front wheel earlier in the descent. Top Canuck McGrath was now 31st.

Fans went exstatic when Sauser caught Absalon late on the sixth and penultimate lap. While Kessiakoff, Näf, and Leon Paez appeared content with their top five positions, a nasty battle for sixth place raged. Frischknecht, Meirhaeghe and Bishop battled their way down the descent until Bishop went over the bars in a log section. That left the two bitter rivals to battle it out to the end. After the race Frischy said “this guy made me hurt for my entire career, I realy liked hurting him today.” Note: Frischy was awarded the 1996 rainbow jersey after Jerome Chiotti admitted to using EPO. It has been widely speculated that Meirhaeghe was doping for much longer than the one instance he has admitted to.

Rolling through the start line together Absalon and Sauser heard the bell together.An attack at the base of the climb opened up a 10-second gap for Absalon which was extended to 30 seconds by the top of the climb. Absalon cruised down the descent to finish 44 seconds ahead of Sauser. “I was at 100% when he caught me, I was very worried,” he commented.

Kessiakoff was very pleased with his bronze medal performance saying, “Last year I was fourth, so this year a medal was the goal. Next year I want gold or silver.” Ralf Näf and Hector Leonardo Paez Leon rounded out the top five.

Absalon, now a legend in both France and in mountain bike history, has a fan club who chanted, “Ab-Sa-Lon Cham-Pi-On Ab-Sa-Lon Cham-Pi-On” as he exited the finish area. When asked of his thoughts on being a three time World Champion he said “I don’t mind about records, I want to keep the jersey next year.” On a potential switch to the road he said, “No, because I really love mountain biking.” With regard to Hermida not racing he said, “It’s a bad story, but we need to wait for more information.”

Sauser having come so close to the win today said “Second is good but to get beaten so close is the worst.” When asked about Absalon’s final attack he said, “I just didn’t have it any more.”

Seamus McGrath was Canada’s top finisher in 25th but was gunning for the top-five finish. “It was brutal,” he said, adding “from the first pedal strokes I knew it would not be good.” He concluded saying, “near the end I got a bit stronger.”

Ricky Federau at 35th was pleased with his race “It was a good steady race, that’s my style.”

Filip Meirhaeghe said “I made a mistake and I paid for it.” On New Zealand’s crowd he said “Only 5% of them are negative, I hope they never make a mistake because they will never be able to live with themselves.”

1996 Olympic gold medalist Bart Brentjens said “I had a good day, but it’s not my course.” Liam Killeen (GBR) who rode the fastest last lap placing him in 10th, revealed he was battling a head cold all week. Killeen said “Given my condition I’m quite happy…the last lap and a half felt good.”


Results, 41.30 kms

1 Julien Absalon (France) 2.09.08 (19.19 km/h)
2 Christoph Sauser (Switzerland) 0.43
3 Fredrik Kessiakoff (Sweden) 1.58
4 Ralph Näf (Switzerland) 4.22
5 Hector Leonardo Paez Leon (Colombia) 4.51
6 Thomas Frischknecht (Switzerland) 5.19
7 Filip Meirhaeghe (Belgium) 5.54
8 Jeremiah Bishop (USA) 6.21
9 Jean Christophe Peraud (France) 7.02
10 Liam Killeen (Great Britain) 7.13
11 Bart Brentjens (Netherlands) 7.39
12 Roel Paulissen (Belgium) 7.49
13 Jader Zoli (Italy) 8.07
14 Johann Pallhuber (Italy) 8.44
15 Marti Gispert Labarta (Spain) 8.56
16 Kashi Leuchs (New Zealand) 9.10
17 Adam Craig (USA) 9.16
18 Cédric Ravanel (France) 9.47
19 Jochen Kaess (Germany) 9.57
20 Florian Vogel (Switzerland) 10.04
21 Karl Platt (Germany) 10.14
22 Alban Lakata (Austria) 10.17
23 Martino Fruet (Italy) 10.59
24 Ludovic Dubau (France) 11.39
25 Seamus McGrath (Canada) 12.01
26 Bas Peters (Netherlands) 12.18
27 Oliver Beckingsale (Great Britain) 12.21
28 Peter Riis Andersen (Denmark) 12.42
29 Dario Acquaroli (Italy) 12.53
30 Christoph Soukup (Austria) 13.23
31 Sid Taberlay (Australia) 13.42
32 Filip Eberl (Czech Republic) 14.03
33 Carlos Coloma Nicolas (Spain) 14.31
34 Andreas Kugler (Switzerland) 14.47
35 Ricky Federau (Canada) 15.00
36 Geoff Kabush (Canada) 15.23

37 Chris Jongewaard (Australia) 15.36
38 Manuel Fumic (Germany) 15.46
39 Michael Weiss (Austria) 16.06
40 Mirko Pirazzoli (Italy) 17.16

1 Lap Behind

41 Martin Gujan (Switzerland)
42 Moritz Milatz (Germany)
43 Maxim Gogolev (Russian Federation)
44 Martin Kraler (Austria)
45 Murray Spink (Australia)
46 Balz Weber (Switzerland)
47 Barry Wicks (USA)
48 Mathieu Toulouse (Canada)
49 Milan Spesny (Czech Republic)

2 Laps Behind

50 Ricardo Pscheidt (Brazil)
51 Caspar Austa (Estonia)
52 Jelmer Pietersma (Netherlands)
53 Ovidiu Tudor Oprea (Romania)
54 Eric Drower (New Zealand)
55 Kenji Takeya (Japan)
56 Brent Miller (Australia)
57 Perren Delacour (Australia)
58 Ivan Seledkov (Russian Federation)
59 Gonzalo Aravena (Chile)
60 Stuart Houltham (New Zealand)
61 Michael Broderick (USA)
62 Edivando Cruz (Brazil)

3 Laps Behind

63 Michael Northcott (New Zealand)
64 Cristobal Silva (Chile)
65 Todd Wells (USA)
66 Shingo Shiraishi (Japan)
67 Javier Puschel (Chile)
68 Helmet Tamkorv (Estonia)
69 Wayne Hiscock (New Zealand)
70 Tim Wilding (New Zealand)

4 Laps Behind

71 Mark Leishman (New Zealand)
72 Justice Makhale (Republic of South Africa)
73 Takahiro Ogasawara (Japan)
DNF Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (USA)
DNF Marek Galinski (Poland)
DNF Ryan Trebon (USA)
DNF Marcin Karczynski (Poland)
DNF Aaron Barry Tuckerman (New Zealand)
DNS Thiago Aroeira (Brazil)

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