Lauri Malroos and Emily Benham won the Long Distance stage that opened the final round of the MTB Orienteering World Cup 2016. With this result, Benham dissipates the doubts about the Women Elite's overall winner, reaching the title for the third year in a row.
“Physically, one of the toughest races ever of the World Cup”. “Highly technical, demanding full focus from start to finish”. “Absolutely fun”. The athletes' reactions after finishing their couldn't be more expressive. The final round of the MTB Orienteering World Cup's first stage was as everybody already expected: demanding, demanding, demanding... and a great fun. The best MTB Orienteering was in today's late morning and afternoon in Kleboniškis, with 63 Men and 44 Women Elite bikers taking the challenge of great courses. For great achievements!
In the Men Elite class, everything was solved in a few minutes. Even knowing that the best runners were still in the forest, the Dane Rasmus Folino Nielsen was a surprising leader for almost one hour. The Czech Vojtech Stransky was the first to getting close to the 135 minute barrier but his leadership just last for 5 seconds (!) when Ruslan Gritsan, Russia, scored a new best time with 2:12:19. The winning time would be established a few minutes later by the Estonian Lauri Malsroos that spent 2:09:09 to complete the 32,025 km of his course. An unexpected victory, at least to Malsroos: “No, I didn't expect to win. I was expecting a really technically demanding course which I could confirm when I first saw the map.” Then, action time under a particular strategy: “The main thing was to keep a smooth orienteering and not to make any big mistakes. This was the key to win today.” Rating the course, Malsroos is quite objective: “It was an interesting race. The middle part was a little boring, in general quite easy, but the first couple of controls and especially the last ten controls, were really fun, with a lot of small tracks asking for an intense map reading. I was able to avoid mistakes here and could get the win.” The Estonian is now, more than ever, in the fight for the World Cup's top places: “I feel good and really motivated for the next stages.”
In the Women Elite, the British Emily Benham did an amazing race from start to finish, catching her most close opponent, the French Gaelle Barlet, still in the first half of the race. This was one of the most important moments of today's Long Distance, opening to Benham the winning doors, both in the stage and in the World Cup overall. “I'm incredibly satisfied with my race today. I could get Gaelle Barlet already at the ninth control and I knew that, as long as we stayed together, the overall World Cup title would be mine. I took some time smiling and celebrating the moment and then time to refocus on the map and carry on with the race trying to win”, said the British in the end. And so it was. Emily finished first with the time of 2:00:50, against 2:04:04 and 2:04:31 from Svetlana Poverina, Russia, and Barlet, second and third, respectively. Is getting two more victories Emily's goal for the next races? She answers: “Yes, it would be very nice to win the next two races but the results are a reflection of the performances and the skills you need to get there. So, I have to go home now, refocus on tomorrow's race and trying to win again.”
1. Lauri Malsroos (Estonia) 2:09:09 (+ 00:00)
2. Ruslan Gritsan (Russia) 2:12:19 (+ 03:10)
3. Krystof Bogar (Czech Republic) 2:14:13 (+ 05:04)
4. Vojtech Stransky (Czech Republic) 2:15:14 (+ 06:05)
5. Baptiste Fuchs (France) 2:15:17 (+ 06:08)
5. Grigory Medvedev (Russia) 2:15:17 (+ 06:08)
1. Emily Benham (Great Britain) 2:00:50 (+ 00:00)
2. Svetlana Poverina (Russia) 2:04:06 (+ 03:16)
3. Gaelle Barlet (France) 2:04:31 (+ 03:41)
4. Antonia Haga (Finland) 2:06:36 (+ 05:46)
5. Ursina Jaeggi (Switzerland) 2:07:41 (+ 06:51)
6. Ruska Saarela (Finland) 2:08:36 (+ 07:46)
Time tomorrow for the Middle Distance race at Panemuné, on the south bank of Nemunas River. The start will be at 10:00. Everything can be followed at http://www.mtbo.lt/.
[Photos from today's Long Distance to check at https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/108054301526873509793/albums/6336160720607788017]