Canadian Roland Green (Trek-Volkswagen) did what no Canadian man has ever done and what a North American hasn’t done in a long time — win a men’s World Cup mountain bike race. In the women’s race, Marga Fullana (Specialized) won her second World Cup race of the 2001 season.
Trivia question de jour: Name the last American male to win a World Cup cross-country race: Answer: Tinker Juarez in 1994.
Green proved you can speak English as your native tongue and still win at mountain biking. After years slowly building confidence and form, Green stormed away from Bas Van Dooren in the five-lap, 38.5-km race to win the third round of the 2001 mountain bike World Cup.
“On the descents, I let the bike go. I had a lot more energy in my legs than if I was riding a hard tail. My legs felt great and I had no pain at all, so I kept punching it up the climbs,” said Green, riding on a full-suspension Trek.
Green was at the front of the 200-plus field in a fast-paced five-lap race deep in the heart of the Belgian Ardennes. More than 30,000 fans showed up as cold rain gave way to sunny skies over the weekend, just in time to quickly dry out the course.
“I pulled away from Bas on the third lap. I was more worried about (Miguel) Martinez biding his time for a late-race attack because that’s his riding style,” Green said. “When I got away from Bas and I looked back and saw the gap I had, I pushed harder.”
Green’s victory is not only the first by a Canadian male (Alison Sydor has won several on the women’s circuit), it is also the first by a male Trek-sponsored racer. Green also moves into the overall series lead. Not a bad weekend.
Green rolled across the line ahead of Specialized’s Van Dooren, who forfeited a charge for the victory to maintain his second-place position.
“I had a problem with my front derailleur but I am not making excuses. The strongest man won today,” Van Booren said. “Maybe I was over-confident. I thought I could catch Green, but I haven’t had a lot of time on the bike because of the foot-and-mouth problem. I need some more time on my bike.”
Spaniard Jose Antonio Hermida (Bianchi-Motorex) dropped Olympic gold medallist Martinez (Full Dynamix) to finish third. Switzerland’s Thomas Frischknecht (Ritchey) finished fifth after a strong final lap.
“It’s always better to have the best position you’re in during a race to be the position that you finish in,” quipped Frischknecht, who slowly worked his way from the top-15.
Fullana Full On
Fullana swept to her second-straight win on the 2001 mountain bike World Cup circuit Sunday, but Specialized teammate Barbara Blatter was hot on her tail and retained the overall series lead.
The Spainard was fast off the front in the four-lap, 30.8-km race in the punchy hills of Belgium. She was first up the opening steep climb to Bois des Moines in the opening kilometer and never looked back. It was Fullana’s ninth career World Cup victory and her second in as many weeks.
“I attacked at first because I wanted to control the race. When I was in the lead, I went at my own pace. I knew I had a nice gap,” said Fullana.
Blatter crashed near St. Roch, midway on the opening lap, and finished the race with two bloody knees. The overall leader’s jersey helped ease the pain.
“I like the way this feels,” said Blatter, pointing to the leader’s jersey. “These knees will hurt tomorrow, but today I am smiling because I rode a good race. I couldn’t stay with Fullana when she went so hard so fast.”
Few these days can stay with Fullana when the lithe Spanish rider puts the hammer down.
“Marga is Marga,” said American Alison Dunlap, rolling her eyes. Dunlap moved up nicely on the final lap to finish third and remains in the top-three in the overall World Cup series.
“I wasn’t feeling as chipper as I would have liked in the first lap, so I really attacked hard in the final lap,” Dunlap said. “I went 150-percent and didn’t stop to the finish.”