1998 Grundig-UCI World Cup Opener

Pictures of Women and Men

March 28, 1998, Napa, CA

Alison Sydor reversed the roles of dominance in women's Grundig-UCI World Cup
racing at this season's opener in Napa, California, March 28. The Volvo-
Cannondale rider got around Caroline Alexander, who led on the opening climb,
to lead into the course's initial single track, coming before a steep uphill.
"My advantage is certainly on the descents, and I made an effort to lead on
the first descent," said Sydor. She got away from Paola Pezzo (Gary Fisher) on
the downhill, and third-placed Alison Dunlap (GT) got a gap on Caroline
Alexander (Ritchey) there, as well. Sydor continued to build on her lead until
she was 2:07 ahead at the finish. Pezzo put up a strong battle, but later said
that her training is targeted to peak in mid-season and during the world
championships, so she was not surprised at Sydor's early-season dominance.
Third-placed Dunlap was thrilled with her podium place in the World Cup
opener, especially because she didn't lose any ground on the descents and
could increase her gap over Alexander on the climbs.
The 20-mile women's race took place over four five-mile laps, with 1040 feet
of climbing per lap. The track, which was dusty last year, was tamped down due
to rain in earlier days and was fast and perfect for high speeds on race day.
The women's field was visibly tired on the fourth lap, with some riders more
exhausted than others. But as Sydor said, "When you're leading the race,
there's no pain at all. When you're leading you're going at your race pace."
With her victory at Napa (and Cactus Cup and Sea Otter), the three-time world
champion looks set to put her stamp on this season after last year was marred
by a snowboarding injury. But whatever this season's outcome, three leading
ladies, Sydor, Pezzo and Dunlap, look ready to take on each other in closer
competition than the sport has seen in years.

March 29, 1998

Rune Hoydahl of Giant rode to victory in the 100th Grundig-UCI race ever, the season opener in Napa, California, March 29. He took over the lead early in the race, passing Miguel Martinez of Sunn, no small feat in itself, and expanding his gap on the downhill. Martinez said he let Hoydahl go around him due to the former World Cup downhiller's superior technical skills on descents.

Behind Hoydahl and Martinez, Australia's Cadel Evans (Volvo-Cannondale)
followed in third, only to lose time to a flat tire with two-and-a-half laps
to go in the six-lap race. Evans rose from 18th to sixth place after that
flat, but the time he lost to the mechanical kept him out of the top five.
Sunn rider Christophe Herisset took over the third-place position, only to
lose it to Ritchey's Thomas Frischknecht with 1km to go in the race. "You
don't want to play with Frischy," said the happy Ritchey rider about his
definitive move in the 30-mile men's race.
Hoydahl takes the series' lead now, with victory in the first race, and
Martinez takes the espoirs' jersey, as leader of the under-23 category in the
World Cup.