After winning his fifth cross-country race in a row at the Offenburg, Germany, World Cup, Julien Absalon is looking to expand his horizons.
A week after his World Cup win on May 28, Absalon, a two-time cross-country Olympic gold medalist, said he will enter the mountain bike marathon world championships on June 26 in Italy. It will be the first time the Frenchman has raced in the event.
What that means, however, is that Absalon will not vie for the overall 2011 cross-country World Cup title, which he earned in 2003, ’06, ’07, ’08 and ’09, as he will not contest the two North American stops on this year’s World Cup schedule in Mont Ste Anne, Quebec (July 2-3) and Windham, New York (July 9-10).
“I have already won five World Cups, one more will not change anything,” Absalon was quoted as saying by Universal Bike Racing. “I have three weeks to become a marathoner.”
The MTB marathon worlds will be held in Montebelluna, Italy, on June 26. The men’s course is 115.7km (72mi) long with 2,860m (9,300ft) of elevation gain. USA Cycling will be sending six riders to the event.
Absalon said he will race cross-country at the mountain bike world championships, which will be held in Switzerland in late August and early September. That sets up a scenario where Absalon is eyeing rainbow jerseys in both the marathon and cross-country.
Since the mountain bike marathon worlds were established in 2003, no Frenchman has won the event, and no male rider has doubled at the marathon and cross-country worlds in the same year. Thomas Frischknecht won XC worlds in 1996 and marathon worlds in 2003. Christoph Sauser won marathon worlds in 2007 and XC worlds in 2008.
In the women’s field, Gunn-Rita Dahle doubled in 2004, ’05, ’06 and ’08.
Meanwhile, to further cement the idea that he’s branching out, Absalon made his announcement about racing marathon worlds at an all-mountain race, the Enduro des Hautes Vosges, in France. The four-time cross-country world champion finished fifth at the event.
OFFENBURG WORLD CUP GALLERY