Posted by Editoress on 05/21/17
World and Olympic champion Nino Schurter (Scott-SRAM) continued his domination of the Nove Mesto course at the opening round of the Cross-country World Cup on Sunday, taking his fifth win in the seven years of racing at this Czech Republic venue (six World Cups and one world championship, last year).
Canadian champion Derek Zandstra (Cannondale-3Rox) finished 28th, despite getting caught behind a crash. The start was marred by a crash in the first few metres, when Matthias Stirnemann (Scott-SRAM) went over the bars after his chain broke, causing a pileup behind him.
"I was on the left side," explained Zandstra, "and I saw a guy's head go down and all of a sudden there was a bike flying up in the air; I think he broke his chain and went over the bars. I had to come to a stop but was able to get through and chase the pack."
Thomas Litscher (JB Brunex Felt) jumped into the lead on the start loop, but he was quickly overtaken by Schurter and David Valero (MMR Factory) once the riders began their six laps of the course. Valero hung on with Schurter for the first half of the race as the pair opened a gap on a chase group containing Julien Absalon (BMC), Maxime Marotte (Cannondale Factory) and Jordan Sarrou (BH-SR Suntour-KMC), but when Schurter put the hammer down on a climb the Spaniard was quickly dropped.
Schurter cruised to his 21st World Cup victory, with Valero holding on for second. Absalon dropped the rest of the chase group to take third.
"I had a really good start and I felt pretty good," said Schurter. "This course really suits me well, it's a perfect course, one of my favourites. David showed a great performance. The first lap or so he attacked quite hard and made me suffer. I'm really happy to win here again. For me it is totally different this year. I have much less pressure, I had a great winter, did some good training but everything comes with less pressure, less expectations. It is going well so far and I'm really stoked."
Zandstra was in the 40s for the first half of the race before starting to move up in the final few laps. He cracked the top-30 at the start of the last lap and managed to move up two more places in the final circuit.
"I had a bit of a rough start to the season," said Zandstra. "I got sick around Sea Otter and I was on antibiotics as of last week, but it's starting to turn around. I knew I had some good fitness coming into this and training's been good, minus the sickness. Next week is another good race for me and I'm hoping to prove myself there."
Other Canadian results include Leandre Bouchard (BH-SR Suntour-KMC) in 39th, Raphael Gagne (Cannondale-3Rox) in 64th, Evan McNeely (Team Canada) in 74th and Andrew L'Esperance (Team Canada) in 95th.
Tremblay 24th in Under-23 Women's World Cup
American champion Kate Courtney (Specialized) took the lead of the Under-23 women's race at the opening round of the Cross-country World Cup in Nove Mesto after the start loop and never looked back. Courtney dropped British champion Evie Richards (Trek Factory) on the first lap to win by nearly two minutes. Richards took second, with European champion Sina Frei (JB Brunex Felt) finishing third.
Canada had two entrants in the race, with Anne-Julie Tremblay (Equipe du Quebec/Cyclone d'Alma) finishing 24th in her first european World Cup.
"I'm really happy with my race here," said Tremblay. "It was a hard start, but it went well for me. I didn't really have a plan because it was my first World Cup in Europe, but I wanted to do a top-25 and I made it."
Mackenzie Myatt, riding for Team Canada, was racing her first ever World Cup after moving up from the Junior ranks, finishing 53rd. "I was really happy with my start and through the start loop. I passed a lot of people and felt really strong on the descents, but the technical climbs really hit me and I lost so much time there. But I learned a lot and I'll try to apply it in the World Cup next week."
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