Catharine Pendrel (Luna) took her third World Cup victory of the season at the World Cup Final in Val di Sole, Italy, but it wasn't enough to beat Julie Bresset (BH-Suntour-Peisey Vallandry) for the overall title. Pendrel trailed by a mere 40 points in the final standings. Bresset finished fourth, behind world champion Maja Wloszczowska (CCC Polkowice) and Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Multivan Merida).
Pendrel came into the final race 140 points behind Bresset, and decided to attack from the start. "I figured I had nothing to lose, so I just went hard for the whole race," she explained.
By the start of the second lap it was just Pendrel and Bresset, and the Canadian dropped her French rival on the steep climbs. Bresset was struggling with the heat and the climbs, and first Dahle Flesjaa bridged up and dropped her, and then Wloszczowska did the same, joining Dahle Flesjaa.
Behind the four frontrunners, a chase group formed, led by Eva Lechner (Colnago Farbe Sudtirol), but they were losing ground on every climb. Lechner managed to break clear of the otherswith a lap to go, to take the final podium spot. She was followed closely by the rapidly improving American Lea Davison (Specialized) who, for the second week in a row, finished in the top-ten.
Pendrel was over a minute up on her chasers with a lap and a half to go, but by the start of the last lap she was down to less than 30 seconds, after a crash.
"I crashed on a silly little section and twisted my handlebar stem," she explained. I stopped twice to fix it and finally went into the pit; it was a little more excitment then I wanted, to be honest!"
Once her technical issue was sorted out, Pendrel again begain to gain on Wloszczowska, who had dropped Dahle Flesjaa in the final half lap, and cruised in to victory. Wloszczowska, with her second place, established herself as a strong contender to retain her rainbow jersey, while Dahle Flesjaa, taking her second World Cup podium in two weeks has also moved into the ranks of possible champions. Bresset will race in the Under 23 category, where she will be the prohibitive favourite.
This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.