Kate Courtney and Mathias Flückiger win the muddy season opener in Germany
The USA’s Kate Courtney and Switzerland’s Mathias Fluckiger took their respective elite class victories at the first round of the Mercedes-Benz UCI XCO World Cup in Albstadt, Germany.
Elite Women’s Race
In the women’s race, reigning overall title holder Jolanda Neff took the early lead with Kate Courtney glued to her wheel. At about 5 minutes into the
Dutch women Anne Tauber moved up into 2nd place with some fast descending and good overall speed. A big crash on the penultimate lap broke her rhythm somewhat and a resurging Neff moved by Tauber to reclaim 2nd position. The problems continued for Tauber as the Ukranian climber Yana Belomoina, who had rallied from 41st position at the start, was closing in fast. As Tauber bobbled on a rocky climb and need to dismount, Yana pushed by into 3rd position.
At the head of the race, it was all Kate Courtney who celebrated her first Elite XC World Cup win and America’s first elite women’s win in 20 years. Neff crossed the line in second and the 2017 overall winner, Yana Belomoina claimed third.
At the line, Courtney said: “It means everything, last year at the World Championships was a huge surprise and a sign that I could make it to the top. I am happy to start the season with a strong ride and hopefully, I can stay up near the front for the rest of the year. I hope to carry the momentum forward.”
South African’s Candice Lill, Cherie Redecker and Mariske Strauss placed 18th, 30th and 43rd respectively.
XCO Overall Standings
1. Kate Courtney (USA) – 375 points
2. Jolanda Neff (Swiss) – 300 points
3. Anne Tauber (NED) – 200 points
Video: Elite Women’s Highlights
Elite Men’s Race
A torrential downpour turned the course into a little river. Slippery wet grass sections, slick rocks,
The flying Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel
In the first three
The last three laps was all Flückiger as he continued to charge hard up the climbs and stay upright on the incredibly slick rooty downhills to distance himself from eventual 2nd placed rider Jordan Sarrou. Van der Poel clawed his way back to claim 3rd place at the finish.
“It was really crazy! I had a lot of patience which was probably the key, I am so happy with this win.” – Mathias Flückiger
U23 World Champ Alan Hatherly (RSA) placed 37th in his first Elite outing.
XCO Overall Standings
- Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) – 325 points
- Mathias Flückiger (Swiss) – 305 points
- Nino Schurter (Swiss) – 210 points
Video: Elite Men’s Highlights
The good, the bad and the ugly
The Good: Mathias Flückiger putting on a classy display of bike riding in challenging conditions to beat the best and claim another World Cup win for himself. He came through the pack, riding within his limits and won deservedly. Kate Courtney’s first World Cup win was also America’s first
The Bad: Seeing any rider being carried out of the woods by the medics is not great, especially when he is in the form of his life at the start of the season. Heal up Lars!
The Ugly: Awkwardly designed wooden bridges with wire mesh have no place on a race track. Granted they may have made the track more rideable this year, but wood is decidedly more unpredictable than mud in the wet. There were multiple horrendous crashes which could easily have ruined the season for many riders. Surely there is a better way
Video: Friday’s Short Track Highlights
Images: Courtesy Red Bull & UCI
With thanks: Coolheat SA & Shimano