Lauri Malsroos and Marika Hara both got important victories in today’s stage of the MTBO World Cup 2016. Malsroos reached his second gold in a row and ensured second place in the World Cup overall. For Hara it was a return to victory, 756 days after her victorious Sprint in the World MTB Orienteering Championships in 2014.
Close by a vast meander of the Nemunas River, the Panemunė Park in Kaunas hosted the second stage of the final round of the World MTB Orienteering Cup 2016. Decked in yellow and ochre and waving in soft contours, the beautiful forest offered to the 65 men and 46 women Elite athletes a multitude of tracks, many small and tricky, for another highly demanding technical experience.
Ending a fast that lasted for more than two years, the Finn Marika Hara defeated the favourite Emily Benham. The Finn had the race in her control from the start, taking advantage of a too hesitant and less aggressive than usual Benham. Hara finished with the time of 55:19 and the good lead of 1:36 over Benham. Repeating the place achieved in Portugal in the Long Distance race of the World MTB Orienteering Championships, the Swiss Maja Rothweiler got the bronze medal, taking nearly two minutes more than the winner. Hara had expected a highly technical course, and she said that “the map reading was very hard,” adding that “it was also a lot of fun.” In an almost clean race, “staying focused on the map” was the secret of her success. A perfect end to the season for someone who was away from the top of the World Cup’s podium for so long, and that will be even better with another victory – and the corresponding bronze medal overall in the World Cup. But about that possibility, Hara says: “To win tomorrow is not in my plans. I just want to ride and have fun!” One last word about Gaelle Barlet, fourth in the race but definitely finishing in second place overall in the World Cup.
In the Men’s Elite, Lauri Malsroos got the win again. Even knowing that the course wouldn’t be easy and that the strategy should be the same as the day before, the Estonian almost ruined his race in the first part with two big mistakes that cost him about one and half minutes in all. “It’s a long course, there are still lots of really technical controls and it’s not over. It’s still possible to get the win if I do the rest of the course without mistakes,” were Lauri’s thoughts after that ‘dark period’. And so it was, with just a small mistake before the end and another great victory with the time of 57:53. Baptiste Fuchs, France, and Pekka Niemi, Finland, finished second and third respectively, separated by 6 seconds and both less than one minute after Malsroos. With this result, Lauri Malsroos ensured second place in the World Cup overall. The challenge is now to win tomorrow and get what only the Russian Anton Foliforov and Emily Benham have got so far – the ‘full score’ in the three stages of a World Cup: “It’s definitely my goal but I know that it would be really difficult to win three days in a row.” However, “impossible” is a word that doesn’t exist in his vocabulary: “I have to be fully focused on the race, because it will be really technical again, with lots of controls. But I’ll try to do it,” Malsroos concludes.
1. Lauri Malsroos (Estonia) 57:53 (+ 00:00)
2. Baptiste Fuchs (France) 58:42 (+ 00:49)
3. Pekka Niemi (Finland) 58:48 (+ 00:55)
4. Grigory Medvedev (Russia) 1:00:04 (+ 02:11)
5. Ruslan Gritsan (Russia) 1:00:13 (+ 02:20)
6. Marek Pospisek (Czech Republic) 1:00:18 (+ 02:25)
1. Marika Hara (Finland) 55:19 (+ 00:00)
2. Emily Benham (Great Britain) 56:55 (+ 01:36)
3. Maja Rothweiler (Switzerland) 57:16 (+ 01:57)
4. Gaelle Barlet (France) 59:18 (+ 03:59)
5. Ruska Saarela (Finland) 59:30 (+ 04:11)
6. Martina Tichovska (Czech republic) 1:00:27 (+ 05:08)
The MTB Orienteering World Cup 2016 will end tomorrow with the Sprint race having place at Lampėdžiai, a western suburban area of Kaunas. The Masters will start at 10:00 while the first Elite competitor will be in the forest two hours later. Everything can be followed at http://www.mtbo.lt/.