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Canadian women dominate mountain bike World Cup

Frustrations continue for men’s team; Green knocked off bike by drunk

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The good news for Team Canada at the third UCI World Cup in Fort William, England last weekend was the return of the women’s national team to the podium.

The gold medal went to Norway’s Gunn-Rita Dahle, who is the most dominant rider on the circuit today with three consecutive World Cup wins under her belt.

The next three spots went to the Canadian women, with Marie-Helen Premont of Chateau Richer, Quebec finishing second, Kiara Bisaro of Courtenay third and Alison Sydor a close fourth.

While Premont chased Dahle down in the last lap, Sydor and Bisaro – formerly of Whistler – kept pace in the second group before breaking away on a climb. Bisaro passed Sydor, and finished a bike length ahead of the three-time world champion from North Vancouver.

"That finish was the hardest sprint I have ever done," Bisaro said. "I passed Alison and Irina (Kalentieva) in the last technical section, and I knew she was right behind me, so all I could do was go as hard as I could."

Three Canadians in the top-five bodes well for the national team at the 2004 Olympics, says Sydor.

"I think it is just incredible that we were able to get three Canadians (in the top four), and this sends a strong statement about our preparation for Athens."

Meanwhile the frustration continued for the men’s team, which has been plagued by breakdowns and crashes all season.

Victoria’s Ryder Hesjedal had to settle for 13 th place after he was sidelined briefly when his spare tube dropped out of his back pocket and into his spokes on the first lap. Geoff Kabush, also of Victoria, was initially held up by two crashes and was eventually knocked out of all contention by a punctured tire. He finished a disappointed 59 th .

Victoria’s Roland Green, the reigning national champion and a two-time World Champion, was knocked off his bike by a drunken spectator in the first kilometre of the race.

Green was initially held up because of a crash, and was in the process of chasing down the lead pack again with another rider when the spectator walked into his path. Green hit the ground hard and suffered a deep cut to his right elbow. His race over, he was rushed to the hospital for X-rays.

Nothing was broken, but it was another unfortunate setback for one of Canada’s premier riders. Mechanical problems kept him out of contention in the previous two races.

Canada has yet to name its team for the Athens Olympics, waiting for the World Cup events in Quebec on June 26 and Alberta on July 3.

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