May 24, 2009 – Madrid, Spain
Words by Rob Jones of www.canadiancyclist.com
After a second night of heavy rain, the decision was made to shorten the women's race from five laps to four. The wet ground made some of the climbs unrideable, and every corner had to be negotiated with care. A group containing Fullana, 2008 World Cup champion Premont, world number one ranked Pendrel and Lene Byberg (Specialized Factory Team) split away from the field. However, Pendrel ran into shifting problems, as well as having difficulty with the muddy course after a night of rain.
"I had a strong start," explained Pendrel, "but I was having some problems in the corners, sliding a bit, and every time that happened I would lose a few seconds. My gears were acting up a bit as well, with the mud, which didn't help on the climbs. But I'm happy that I was able to hang on for the last podium spot."
Fullana then made her first testing attack, and only Premont and Byberg could respond. Pendrel dropped back to sit solo in fourth, with a chase group containing round one winner Elisabeth Osl (Central Ghost Team), Maja Wloszczowska (CCC Polkowice) and Eva Lechner (Colnago Cap Arreghini) forming behind. The front three began getting reeled in from behind on the second lap, both by Pendrel and the chase of Osl, Lechner, Wloszczowska and the Olympic champion Sabine Spitz
Premont was getting concerned about being caught, and upped the pace, dropping Byberg with less than a lap and a half to go. Byberg would hold on for third, but the race for the win was down to two riders. Fullana made the winning move on the final long climb, launching an attack that Premont could not respond to immediately, and then holding on to win her second consecutive World Cup. Behind Byberg, Pendrel was caught by Spitz and Osl, after some mechanical problems, but managed to hold on for the fifth and final podium spot behind Spitz.
According to Premont: "My build up this year was very slow, because I had a very tough year in school. But I am getting better every week now, and I felt really strong here. In the last two laps, the chasers were catching up to us, and neither Fullana or Byberg were working, so I went to the front to set the pace. Then, on the last long climb Marga [Fullana] attacked and I could not respond fast enough to catch her before the finish."
Fullana's win has increased her lead in the standings to 850 points, 190 over second place Osl, with Byberg in third at 565 points. Pendrel moves to fifth at 470 points, and Premont jumps from 16th to ninth in the standings with 408 points.