- by Christopher Jones
- Published: 15 May 2009
Steve Peat (Santa Cruz Syndicate) once again pulled off an incredible ride to record his 16th career victory in the Nissan UCI Mountain Bike World Cup presented by Shimano at the second downhill round in La Bresse, France.
In doing so, he matched the all time record of French rider Nicolas Vouilloz, and also took over the lead in the World Cup standings. Sabrina Jonnier (Maxxis – Rocky Mountain) gave the crowd a French win in the women’s category, as she decisively beat World Cup leader Tracy Moseley (Trek World Racing) by over five seconds.
The short course required the skills of an all-round rider to perform well, with fast pedaling and jumping sections at the top, followed by steep, technical and rocky sections in the lower half. Many a rider started out fast, only to lose precious seconds in the final third of the 1.2 kilometre course.
The men’s race had a potential upset in the making, when heavy rain swept in shortly after American Kyle Strait (Specialized Team America) grabbed the hot seat. Strait was 29th to start, and the track had been dry and hard until that point. Favoured Chris Kovarik (Chain Reaction/Intense) crashed shortly afterwards, showing how slippery it was getting.
Strait’s time of 2:12.33 held up for over 30 riders before Justin Leov (Trek World Racing) finally managed to displace him by a mere five one hundredths of a second. Leov also settled in for an extended sit in the hot seat, remaining in the top spot until the final ten riders began their runs. Strait would finish 11th, just behind Leov.
Leov’s team mate Andrew Neethling was the first to better Leov, dropping the leading time to below 2:12 (2:11.98). However, he was replaced immediately by Mikael Pascal (MSC Bikes). World Cup leader Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) was next to take the lead, but again it was a short lived reward, as Great Britain’s Brendan Fairclough (Monster Energy-Specialized) became the first rider to go under 2:10, with a 2:09.99 run.
Fairclough hung onto the lead through Sam Blenkinsop (Yeti Fox Shox) before his team mate, and perennial favourite, Sam Hill knocked an impressive second and a half off the leading time. There were only three riders to go, and the rain continued to fall.
Michael ‘Mick’ Hannah (GT Bicycles) was next, and he slotted in between Hill and Fairclough, and then it was World Champion Gee Atherton (Animal-Commencal), who came in behind Fairclough and ahead of Minnaar, guaranteeing himself a podium spot.
Finally, it was ‘Peaty’, the legendary rider from Sheffield, Yorkshire. Only 17th fastest through the speedtrap, Peat kept getting faster as the course got harder. By the first intermediate timer he was up to second, by the second intermediate station he was more than a second in front, and at the finish line he was a full 1.27 seconds ahead of Hill to record his 16th World Cup win.
"I’m very happy to win after such a long time, and happy to break Vouilloz?s record" commented Peat afterwards, referring to the fact that this is his first World Cup victory since Willingen, Germany in 2006. "It’s good to keep the jersey in the team," he added.
Heading into the third Downhill round of the Nissan UCI Mountain Bike World Cup next week in Vallnord, Andorra, Peat holds a 25 point lead over Hannah at 415 points, with Minnaar 62 points back in third. In the women’s standings, it is Moseley still in front with 460 points, but Jonnier has moved into second, 68 points back, followed by Ragot, a distant 125 points in arrears.
La Bresse World Cup Downhill Results:
1st Steve Peat (Santa Cruz Syndicate) 2:07.14
2nd Sam Hill 2:08.41
3rd Mick Hannah 2:09.00
4th Brendan Fairclough 2:09.99
5th Gee Atherton 2:11.15
6th Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) 2:11.15
7th Mickael Pascal 2:11.70
8th Andrew Neethling 2:11.98
9th Sam Blenkinsop 2?12.15
10th Justin Leov 2:12.28
Photo: Creative Commons license