McConnell, Lechner win MTB World Cup opener

Rain alters the course and forces organizers to remove a jump from the men's race

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Australian Daniel McConnell and Italy’s Eva Lechner won the men’s and women’s elite cross-country races at the opening stop of the 2013 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Albstadt, Germany on Sunday.

Rain fell during the final lap of the women’s race and altered the course, making the downhill sections slick and treacherous. For the men’s race, organizers had to close a major jump after the first of seven laps because it was too dangerous to navigate on the wet dirt.

“It was much more difficult [after the rain started],” Lechner said in a story on the UCI’s website. “It was slippery, it was like ice. I had to be so careful, pay attention. I had a little gap on the last uphill, but I took no risk on the last descent.”

Spaniard Sergio Mantecon Gutierrez finished second to McConnell, while Jaroslav Kulhavy of the Czech Republic took third. Maja Wloszczowska (Poland) was second in the women’s race and Katrin Leumann (Switzerland) placed third.

“I did not expect this,” said McConnell, who entered the race with only one top-20 World Cup result. “I came into this looking for a solid top-15, so it’s unbelievable. On the climb I made contact with the group of second through fifth, and then moved into second through the feedzone. I could see Sergio in front of me, and at that stage just gave it everything, and caught him through the grass section at the bottom of the descent.

“I got into the last corner with a little bit of a gap and nothing was going to get past me at that point, I was running on adrenaline.”

The World Cup resumes this weekend in Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic.

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