Posted by Editoress on 05/18/18
The first ever Mountain Bike World Cup short track (XCC) was held on Friday evening in Albstadt, Germany, with Annika Langvad (Specialized) and Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) the winners. The top-16 finishers in the women and men will fill the first two rows for Sunday's cross-country (XCO) races, plus the event offered World Cup substantial points - 50% of the XCO.
The 1.7 kilometre course began with the start of the cross-country circuit on pavement and then grass past the tech zone, followed by a section of the singletrack near the end of the XCO circuit and the pavement finish.
Jolanda Neff (Kross Racing) took the hole shot through the first corner for the women, but a group of 15 formed at the front by the end of the first lap, including most of the favourites except Catharine Pendrel (Clif Pro Team) and Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Canyon Factory), who had to chase hard to get back to the leaders.
The lead yo-yo'd through the remaining eight laps, with no one able to open an advantage, however, Langvad, who had remained tucked in the middle of the group until that point, launched an attack halfway through the final lap to take the win ahead of Neff and Linda Indergand (Focus XC). The win cemented Langvad's lead in the World Cup standings.
All three Canadians in the race were with the front group going into the last lap - Pendrel, Emily Batty (Trek Factory) and Haley Smith (Norco Factory). However, Smith washed out in a muddy corner with Pendrel losing spots as she got around Smith. Batty avoided the problem to finish 12th, with Pendrel finishing 15th and Smith dropping to 32nd.
"It was relentless," said Batty. "It was fun to switch it up, but none of us knew what to expect. I rode a pretty conservative race; I just really wanted that top-16, that's all that really mattered. I definitely held back a lot and I felt strong, so I'm pretty excited for Sunday."
By finishing in the top-16, some riders dramatically improved their start positions for the XCO, while others lost out. The winners were Barbara Benko (Ghost Factory), Kate Courtney (Specialized) and Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Merida), who will jump to the front row. The losers were Ferrand Prevot and Sabine Spitz (Wiawis Bikes), who drop to the third row. Both Batty and Pendrel will start on the second row, while Smith will be on the fourth.
The men's race featured an immediate upset, when world champion Nino Schurter (Scott-SRAM) had to stop right after the start to fix a problem with his electronic shifting. Schurter chased for a few laps before eventually abandoning, and will now start on the third row for Sunday's XCO. At the front, the race was dominated from start to finish by van der Poel. World Cup leader Sam Gaze (Specialized) had to chase up from a poor start, but joined the front group and then marked van der Poel. The Dutch former cyclo-cross world champion attacked with a little more than two laps to go, and the rest of the group did not react for a lap before Maxime Marotte (Cannondale Factory) finally started to chase. van der Poel easily soloed in for the win, and Gaze outsprinted Mathias Flueckiger (Thomus-RN Racing) for third.
Gaze continues to lead the World Cup standings, but van der Poel has jumped from fourth to second and Marotte moves into third, while Schurter drops to fourth. On the start line for the XCO, the winners are Mathias and his brother Lukas, plus Lars Forster (BMC) and Marco Fontana (Cannondale Factory) - all jump to the front row; Fontana up from the fifth row. Losers are Schurter and Anton Cooper (Trek Factory), who drop to the third row from the first.
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