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Arai, Japan - The downhill and dual race in Arai, Japan has become a classic on the World Cup circuit, mostly due to the die-hard, fanatical Japanese mountain biking fans. Most of the estimated 35,000 fans drive anywhere from 6 to 11 hours to see their heroes, and the Volvo/Cannondale duo of Anne-Caroline Chausson and Cedric Gracia are two of the crowd's favorites.

The highlight of the weekend for Volvo/Cannondale's legions of Japanese fans was watching Anne-Caroline continue her total domination of the 2002 World Cup Downhill Series. Anne-Caroline made it five-for-five on the year as she again dusted all contenders, finishing 1.95 seconds ahead of second-place Missy Giove, and almost eight seconds ahead of third-place finisher Sabrina Jonnier of France. A-C currently leads the World Cup Series by 285 points over Giove.

In men's downhill racing, Volvo/Cannondale's Cedric Gracia came within three-tenths of a second of a podium spot. "I made one mistake in the woods section," recalled Cedric. "I crashed into a tree and lost at least three seconds." Despite the crash, Cedric put in an aggressive run and finished a very respectable sixth.

Cedric fared better in the dual event, where he breezed through the first three rounds before facing eventual race winner and current Dual World Champion Wade Bootes in the semifinal round of four. Bootes and Cedric collided as they took an identical line through the second turn, and the Volvo/Cannondale rider went down. In the consolation round, Cedric lost to Brian Lopes in a close and tactical race, finishing a strong fourth overall for the day. (Anne-Caroline didn't race the Women's Dual due to a nagging knee injury that she would have risked re-injuring had she raced.)

[SOURCE: Cannondale]
 
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