For the first time in three UCI World Cup mountain bike appearances, Quebecs Marie-Helene Premont finished off the podium in fourth place at Houffalize, Belgium. Premonts time was just 15 seconds back of third place, which went to Irina Kalentieva of Russia. Gunn-Rita Dahle of Norway continued her domination with yet another gold medal, followed by Sabine Spitz of Germany.
North Vancouvers Alison Sydor also cracked the top-10 in eighth place, 6:38 of Dahles winning time. Kiara Bisaro of Courtenay came close, finishing 11 th just 7:34 of the winning pace. Patricia Sinclair was 24 th , and Sandra Walter 62 nd .
No Canadian men took part in the race. Ricky Federau of Abbotsford raced the first two World Cup events, but did not finish either race and returned home to race in the Canada Cup.
According to Sean ODonnell, the high performance director for the Canadian Cycling Association, the lack of Canadians reflects the fact that there are very few riders on UCI mountain bike trade teams this year.
"In the past you had (Chrissy) Redden and (Ryder) Hesjedal with Subaru-Gary Fisher and (Alison) Sydor and (Roland) Green with VW-Trek," he said. "They funded their athletes to go over to Europe to do some of those World Cups Now with many riders on North American pro teams, perhaps priorities are a little different."
The CCA has also taken a step back from their spring World Cup program this year, which is normal following an Olympic year, "to refocus on development riders and the next group of riders waiting to break through on the international scene," said ODonnell.
The status of the World Cup, which has seen several events cancelled or moved in recent years, is also not an issue with a full slate of races for this season.
The fact that Canada lost Yuri Kashirin as head coach was also not a factor with Michel Leblanc stepping in to fill that role.
"Things are running smoothly and the program is beginning to take shape," added ODonnell. "As is the case every year, youll see many Canadians in Mont Ste Anne and Angel Fire."
ODonnell said Canadians will likely take part in events in Brazil and in the World Cup championships in Scotland.
Locals in Times Colonist Cycling Festival
With record setting temperatures baking the roadways, hundreds of cyclists took to the streets of Victoria on Saturday and Sunday for the annual 2005 Times Colonist Cycling Festival.
In the 140 km road race, Andrew Pinfold and Bradley Fairall of Symmetrics Cycling took the top two spots in 3:28:04 and 3:28:06. Richard Minichiello was third in 3:28:10.
Mountain bikers Seamus McGrath and Roland Green were fourth and fifth just over a minute off the lead pace.
From the Whistler Bike Co., Michael Boehm and Matt Bodkin were 50 th and 51 st respectively, followed by Will Routley with Symmetrics Cycling.
In the womens 110 km race, Leah Golstein of Trek and Red Truck Beer took the win by more than five minutes over Symmetrics Marni Hableton. Samatha McGlone was third.
Whistlers Lesley Clements was ninth, just over 20 seconds back of the podium.
In the Bastion Square Criterium, Roland Green took the mens event, followed by Svein Tuft and Andrew Pinfold. Will Routley was 29 th .
Mandy Poitras won the womens crit, followed by Marnie Hambleton and Leah Golstein.