September 15, 2007 (Maribor, Slovenia) – The Elite Men’s race has started. They will be completing 7 laps of the 4.5km course with a modified first lap that cuts out a section of singletrack and replaces it with a long fire road climb. Temperatures are in the mid 20s, it’s sunny and, despite a shower overnight, the course is in good condition.
Near the end of Lap 1, Jose Antonio Hermida (Esp) Merida leads Christoph Sauser (Sui) Specialized, Manuel Fumic (Ger) Fumic Bros. Racing, and Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Cannondale-Vredestein. Gaps are very small, as it’s still the first lap. Canada’s Geoff Kabush (Can) Maxxis is in 11th, Seamus McGrath (Can) Rocky Mountain-Haywood is 14th, Max Plaxton (Can) Rocky Mountain-Haywood is 36th, Ricky Federau (Can) Trek-Wenting’s is 50th, Mathieu Toulouse (Can) Maxxis is 76th and Kris Sneddon (Can) Kona-Les Gets is 112th. World Cup leader Julien Absalon (Fra) Orbea is back in 28th.
Near the end of Lap 2, on the descent just before the feed zone, Kessiakoff has a 6s lead on Hermida. After a 20s gap, it’s Sauser in third, followed by another 23s to 4th place, Manuel Fumic, who is together with Roel Paulissen (Bel) Cannondale-Vredestein in 5th and Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Cannondale-Vredestein in 6th. Then it’s another 15s to McGrath, who is in 13th. Kabush is in another small group a few seconds behind McGrath in 20th, followed by Absalon in 24th. Plaxton is in 40th, Federau is 52nd and Toulouse is 61st.
Near the end of Lap 3, it’s starting to cloud over, but it looks like the rain should hold off. Kessiakoff is still in the lead and has extended it to 25s over Hermida. Hermida is holding his gap of 20s over 3rd place, Sauser, who, in turn, is maintaining his 23s lead over 4th place Manuel Fumic. Then it’s a 10s gap to 5th and 6th, teammates Fuglsang and Paulissen. Another 50s back is McGrath in 13th, Kabush in 17th and Absalon in 20th. Too much celebrating last week for the reigning World Champion perhaps? Plaxton has fallen back to 51st and doesn’t look happy. Federau is right on his tail in 52nd. Toulous is still hanging out in around 58th.
Close to the end of Lap 4, it’s still Kessiakoff in the lead, which he’s extended to 42s. Hermida is still in 2nd with 27s over Sauser, who has 25 seconds over 4th place, Manuel Fumic. A couple seconds behind is a chasing Paulissen in 5th, then a 30s gap to Fuglsang and another 20s to 7th, Lado Fumic. Kashi Leuchs (NZl) Cannondale-Vredestein is another 7s behind and holds 8th place. McGrath is 18th, Kabush 21st, Federau 57th, Toulouse 59th, Plaxton 65th. I was wrong. It has started to sprinkle and it’s cooled down a lot.
Before the feed zone in Lap 5, Kessiakoff has built his lead to 1min and looks strong. Hermida is still 2nd, but Sauser is gaining. He’s pared it down to 15s. 30s back in 4th and 5th are Manuel Fumic and Pauslissen together. At another 35s is Fuglsang in 6th. In 7th is Lado Fumic another 18s back, Leuchs is in 8th, Peraud 9th and Filip Meirhaeghe (Bel) 10th. Kabush is 19th, McGrath 24th, Toulouse 55th.
Mid-way through Lap 6, Kessiakoff is still building his lead, now at 1:15 to Hermida in 2nd. Sauser is only 2s back of him.
End of Lap 6, Kessiakoff is still way off the front. Sauser has moved up to 2nd with Hermida in 3rd, only 2s behind. Manuel Fumic is 4th, 25s back of Hermida and 4s ahead of 5th, Paulissen. Another 53s back is Fuglsang 6th, followed by a gap and then Lado Fumic 7th, Peraud 8th, Leuchs 9th. Kabush is 25th, McGrath 30th, Toulouse 54th. Federau and Plaxton have fallen way back. Sneddon is also back there.
At the start of the final lap, Kessiakoff has 1:24 over Sauser in 2nd. Hermida is 3rd, 15s back. Fumic 4th, 10s back of Hermida. Paulissen is in 5th, another 20s back, followed by Peraud and Fuglsang, then Lado Fumic in 8th, Leuchs in 9th.
1. Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Cannondale-Vredestein
2. Christoph Sauser (Sui) Specialized
3. Manuel Fumic (Ger) Fumic Bros. Racing
4. Jose Antonio Hermida (Esp) Multivan-Merida
5. Roel Paulissen (Bel) Cannondale-Vredestein
6. Jean-Christoph Peraud (Fra) Orbea
7. Lado Fumic (Ger) Fumic Bros. Racing
8. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Cannondale-Vredestein