Last weekend was nothing short of a Gold rush for the German bicycle manufacturer CANYON. Celebrations were all around for the Canyon ladies as they rode their bikes to victory in both Enduro and Cross Country races.
At the first Ischgl Overmountain Challenge 2013 (AUT), Ines Thomas from the CANYON Factory Enduro Team pedaled her way to success and became the (unofficial) Enduro European Champion. Irina Kalentieva from the Topeak-Ergon Racing Team celebrated her eighth World Cup triumph (Elite Women) this season at the last UCI MTB World Cup Cross Country race Hafjell (NOR). Her younger talented Cross Country colleague Malene Degn also won gold in the Women Juniors category. Making last weekend a 'golden hat trick'!
The first Ischgl Overmountain Challenge in the famous Tyrolean ski resort Ischgl was held as the "European Enduro Open" - and it was a test race for the Enduro European Championship next year. In almost daring winter conditions around 250 riders, among them 17 women, set off to find Europe's fastest Enduro riders. Straight from the line, Ines Thomas was not impressed as fresh snow fall resulted in the course being shortened. But not bothered by the harsh conditions she quickly drew out a three second gap ahead of her rivals. Ines remained in the lead for the majority of the race, winning four out of five stages. Even during the heavy pedal stages, Ines powered through, proving her physical condition and earning her victory. The final clock showed that she had crossed the line in 25:38,59 min, fabulous 2:22 minutes ahead of French rival Pauline Dieffenthaler (28:01,16 min). Fellow CANYON teammates Marco B√ºhler (9th place) and Maxi Dickerhoff (11th place) also showed great determination and strength on this difficult course.
In Hafjell (NOR), athletes were not exposed to such frosty conditions for the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Cross Country race. Irina Kalentieva saddled up on her CANYON bike focused and fully prepared. In this last World Cup stop of the season, the 35-year-old Topeak-Ergon Racing Team rider achieved her eighth World Cup career win and sent a clear message that she can still compete with the younger guns. The Russian has been training tirelessly for three long years to be where she is today - but it was worth it. The two-time World Champion steam-trained her way up through the field to the fastest three athletes from 17th place. After spending energy moving up the field she then found herself in a tight battle with Julie Bresset (FRA) and Eva Lechner (ITA). Finally, after a grueling 1:25:34 hour race, Irina finished first. Once the wheels had stopped turning and the reality of what just happened sunk in, with tears in her eyes, Irina said: "That feels so good, especially after all the bad luck over recent years. After coming fourth at the championships I was very focused on this race. Even in South Africa, I felt really strong but now it worked out."
Likewise, Irina's teammate Nadine Rieder could be more than satisfied with her performance. After the 24-year-old German rider placed sixth at the Sprint Eliminator last Thursday, she ended up 23rd - the best World Cup result of her young career.
Danish Malene Degn demonstrated an equally impressive performance in Norway: at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Hafjell she rode onto the podium in the Cross Country Women Juniors category. With a time of 1:04:54 and a 20-second lead ahead of Meda Petrusaukaite (LTU) she grabbed the gold medal. A great comeback for the upcoming athlete after her unfortunate race in Pietermaritzburg, where she was hit by a competitor only 100m after the start, and was forced to retire.