wc :: season finale

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Simone on top of the World Cup Standings (iof)

Last weekend in Switzerland saw the culmination of the 2007 World Cup series, a strange transitionary year with the introduction of a new format in an attempt to rejuvenate the competition. 10 races, took place across the year, and the format gives nations the opportunity to enter up to 10 runners in the qualification heats, based on the nation's strength in the IOF World Ranking. British attendance at these events has declined over the year with poorly timed races and funding cuts ensuring that they wouldn't be a priority for many of our elites. That said, a small British team was in attendance as the elite season drew to a close.

The (rather long) middle distance race on Saturday was novel in that the course in the beautiful village of Stein am Rhein took competitors through both Switzerland and Germany. Here there was no real surprise in those who took top spots, with runaway World Cup leaders Thierry Gueorgiou and Simone Niggli-Luder comfortably clear. Thierry was 45 seconds clear of the young Swiss pair of Matthias Merz and Daniel Hubmann, with a time of 45 minutes for the 8.9km course, while Simone won by 30 seconds from her closest rival this year, Finland's Minna Kauppi, her time just over 44 minutes for the 7.3km course.

Top British results came from Jon Duncan in 16th, 4 minutes down, and Graham Gristwood in 29th a further 3 minutes back. In the women's Pippa Whitehouse and Sarah Rollins were 30th and 33rd respectively, over 10 minutes down on Simone.

Sunday and the Sprint race saw similar, but somewhat closer, podium in the Men's race, with Thierry managing to take victory in a time of 13:18, just 2 seconds from two young Swiss runners, this time Matthias Mller 2nd with Daniel Hubmann a further 8 seconds back.

Graham Gristwood was the pick of the
British bunch, 20th place with a time of 14:05 indicating how close results in this race were. Matt Speake was in 26th another 10 seconds back, with Jon Duncan one place behind in 27th. Simone once again took victory in the women's race, her time of 13:23 for the 2.6km course was over 20 seconds clear of Sweden's Lena Eliasson with Anne Margrethe Hausken of Norway in 3rd. Sarah Rollins was a little over a minute and a half down in 12th place, with Pippa Whitehouse in 20th place.

So this year's runaway World Cup winners were once again Thierry Gueorgiou and Simone Niggli-Luder, with Thierry finishing unbeaten in the competition with 8 wins from 8 races and Simone winning 8 of the 10 races. They however had very different plans for the coming weeks at this stage in the season, with Simone saying despite it being a tough year she still has a lot of energy, as she headed off to the Czech Republic for a training camp. Thierry however was feeling the need for a rest, and said After WOC in Ukraine I have been totally exhausted mentally, continuing Both my head and my body need a rest. Now I will take a few days free of training and focussing on orienteering, and just relax. I will start training again when I feel ready for it. It could be a three-week break maybe.

Top Brits overall were Jon Duncan and Pippa Whitehouse, in 16th and 35th respectively, with Graham Gristwood the only other Brit within the top 50 in 28th place.

Full standings and results for the 2007 World Cup can be found here.

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