A week after taking a bronze medal and the Beijing Olympics, Irina Kalentieva left the rest of the field trailing in her dust as she rode to her second world cup victory of the season in Canberra, Australia. Rosara Joseph stormed her final lap to pass Catherine Pendrel for second, with Tereza Hurikova taking fourth place and the under 23 race win in the process. Mary McConneloug took the final podium position in fifth.
The event featured four of the top 10 placed riders from the Beijing Olympics, but unfortunately the gold and silver medal winners, Sabine Spitz and Maja Wloszczowska opted to skip the eighth round of the world cup in favour of returning home to Germany and Poland respectively.
This left Kalentieva as the hot favourite coming into the event. She did not disappoint. Taking an early lead on the first lap, Kalentieva never looked in trouble leading from start to finish.
"I felt good today, it was my [type of] weather and course," Kalentieva explained shortly after crossing the finish line. "It was a very technical and interesting course. I like this course.
"I went out easy; I wanted to wait because I didn't know how my opponents were. I saw in the first lap in the downhill that I was going a lot better. Then in the second part, of course I caught McConneloug and opened up a gap of 10 metres. Then I was pushing all the time and I saw that I was getting away."
Her gap steadily increased over the course of the next lap, but she never gained more than a minute's advantage. In fact, although Kalentieva was confident in her ability the race was anybody's right up until the final half lap with the top four all finishing within one minute and ten seconds of each other.
Joseph's last lap surge to claim second place, her highest finish in a world cup event, surprised not only the crowd, but also Joseph herself.
"I was basically not feeling very good all this week," she said to Cyclingnews. "Then this morning I was feeling really tired and on the verge of being sick. So I didn't know what to expect.
"As I went on I was feeling stronger. I was riding technically very well, and putting the power down when I could."
With Joseph, Pendrel and Hurikova within sight of one another the entire race the final podium was anything but decided as they went into the final lap. Joseph proved that although she was not feeling 100% and riding with a brace on her right ankle, she was not letting her chance of riding to her highest place in a world cup slip away.
Catching and passing Pendrel in the dying moments of the final lap, Joseph couldn't afford to savour the moment until after she crossed the line. Pendrel was just six seconds behind her and Hurikova a further 11 seconds down.
"Unfortunately, Rosara was able to reel me in, in the end," Pendrel said, somewhat disappointed. "I am happy with third, but I would have loved to have been second. I felt pretty good; it was definitely a hard course. It was making me work. My legs felt good but not great."
Pendrel, the winner of the last world cup in her home country, Canada has moved herself closer to the overall lead of Marie-Helene Premont with her third place finish.
For full results, report and photos, visit Cyclingnews.com.