Sunday, May 29, 2016

World Cup MTBO: Good start for Benham and Foliforov

Round 1 of the 2016 MTB Orienteering World Cup has finished. Held in France, the event’s programme included two exciting individual stages – Long and Middle – and a tightly contested Mixed Relay. At the beginning of a new season, Emily Benham and Anton Foliforov are the World Cup leaders.

It was an exciting weekend to be in Guebwiller, France for the MTB Orienteering World Cup 2016 Round 1. Starting as defending winners, Anton Foliforov, Russia and Emily Benham, Britain couldn’t have done better. Opening the competition, the Long Distance race was held in terrible weather conditions, with the Swiss Simon Braendli as surprising winner in the Men’s Elite. In what Foliforov called “the muddiest MTBO event of my life”, Braendli was faster than any of his opponents, achieving his first victory ever in a World Cup stage. Foliforov, second, and the Czech Vojtech Ludvík – another good surprise – third, completed the podium. In the women’s race, Emily Benham was the big winner, revealing at the end her great satisfaction over a victory in such adverse conditions. “Maybe I should start liking mud races”, said the winner at the end. Gaëlle Barlet, France, and Renata Paulickova, Czech Republic, occupied the next positions.

After the stormy first stage, the High-Rhine vineyards were quite a promenade for a very technically demanding Middle Distance on the second day of competition. Unsurprisingly, Anton Foliforov was the strongest this time, getting a one-minute victory over the Estonian Lauri Malsroos and taking over the World Cup leadership. “Vineyards are very special terrains, with some really interesting details, and I enjoyed racing through them today”, said the Russian, first-placed in the IOF MTB Orienteering World Rankings since 16th May 2014. Andreas Waldmann, Austria, was third in a race that he tagged as “a little bit like a sprint”. The Elite Women class had the French Gaëlle Barlet and the British Emily Benham as the winning pair. Both athletes had a really tight race, with the final result perfectly showing it. Even their comments in the end were coincident: “There were lots of permitted passages between the vines but these were difficult to see. It was easy to make many small mistakes”, Benham said, expressing the general opinion. IOF MTB Orienteering World Rankings leader Martina Tichovska, Czech Republic got the third place and Benham took the lead in the World Cup standings.

The MTB Orienteering World Cup 2016 Round 1 finished with a home win. In a festive atmosphere, the French trio was unbeatable in the Mixed Relay, with Russia getting the silver and Finland the bronze. With no big chances of getting a top place, the team from Great Britain turned out to have supremacy on the first leg, with Emily Benham showing once again her enormous talent and taking the lead. After the subsequent British ‘disappearance’, attention moved to France and Russia, both fighting hard for victory. First Gaëlle Barlet and then Yoann Garde set the tone, launching Baptiste Fuchs out on the decisive leg with a lead of about three minutes on Anton Foliforov. Despite his huge effort, the Russian couldn’t reverse the course of things, having to settle for the silver medal. Finland was third, ahead of Austria and Switzerland.

Looking at the Table of Honour after the first round, France leads the medals list with two gold and one silver, followed by Great Britain with two golds. Russia and Switzerland shared the remaining gold medals, but the Russians added to their account two silver medals. Estonia also achieved one silver medal, leaving the bronze medals to the Czech Republic (three), Austria and Finland (a bronze medal each). The next round of MTB Orienteering World Cup matches with the World MTB Orienteering Championships and is going to take place in Portugal from 24th to 30th July.

Text: Joaquim Margarido

[See the original article at Published with permission from the International Orienteering Federation]

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