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Speedy seventh in Pmb

Beijing Olympian Yolande Speedy (IMC Momentum) finished seventh in the Elite women’s cross-country round four of the MTN National Mountain Bike Cup Series in Pietermaritzburg, in a race that was dominated by a strong international field.

The silver medallist from Beijing, Poland’s Maja Wloszczowska, beat off a strong challenge from Olympic bronze medallist, Russian Irina Kalentieva, to win the event.

Riders were using the event to prepare for the first round of the 2009 Nissan UCI World Cup which takes place at the same venue this coming weekend.

After a steady start for the first half a lap, the front group strung out dramatically on the first long climb with Wloszczowska (Bank BGZ) and Kalentieva (Topeak Ergon) moving off the front and building a small lead on the tough 4.6km course, which has been described as a climber’s delight.

Kalentieva is the 2007 world champion and currently ranked fifth on the UCI rankings, while Wloszczowska, twice runner-up at the world championships (2004, 2005) is currently ranked 19th and firmly on the comeback trail after a disappointing 2007 and first half of 2008. 

Unperturbed by the midday heat, the pair of Eastern Europeans set a fierce pace and marked one another closely on the tight course. But on the penultimate lap the 25-year-old Pole managed to pull clear, eventually claiming the victory in 1hr 43min 19 sec. 

Kalentieva was less than a minute back in 1:44:14 with American Mary McConneloug (Kenda Seven), currently ranked seventh in the world, finishing strongly to claim the final podium spot in 1:45:21.

Another Pole, Aleksandra Dawidowicz, finished sixth overall and secured the Under-23 category victory, while Speedy finished a respectable seventh overall, just over four minutes behind Wloszczowska.

ÔÇ£It was good to have such a strong international field here. It really is amazing to race against the world’s top riders right here in South Africa,ÔÇØ said Speedy, adding that her legs still felt a little heavy after the Absa Cape Epic, where she and Paul Cordes finished third overall in the Mixed category.


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