Evie Richards and Victor Koretzky claimed the wins in the Elite categories at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.
Short track winner Jenny Rissveds was quick off the line and led the start lap with newly-crowned World Champion Evie Richards. Like Rissveds, Loana Lecomte made a return to racing after illness saw her sit out the World Championships – unbeaten in the first four rounds, the series leader was straight back into the thick of the action alongside Anne Terpstra, Anne Tauber, Sina Frei and Haley Batten. Richards dropped a few places in the first full lap as Rissveds and Lecomte pulled clear at the front while Frei moved up into third – but, by the end of lap one, they were back together and joined by Rebecca MacConnell and Tauber to form an exciting lead group of six. Tauber was the first to crack as Frei put the pressure on in lap two, but the rest of the group continued a relentless, aggressive pace; Rissveds was hanging just off the back in fifth, riding her characteristic calm and constant rhythm. At lap four Richards split the group with an attack on the tarmac climb, which was enough to pull clear at the front and drop Lecomte and Rissveds – she checked back over her shoulder, saw the damage and kept her foot on the gas to cross the line with one lap to go holding a few seconds over MacConnell, with Frei close behind in third and buoyed by the roaring Swiss crowd. There was drama for Frei, who had a puncture and was passed in the pits by Lecomte and Rissveds. Out in front, Richards was under pressure from MacConnell, but keeping things smooth and strong – she rode the rainbow stripes to her first World Cup win, crossing the line 19 seconds ahead of MacConnell. Rissveds managed to distance Lecomte to take third and Frei hung onto fifth. South African Mariske Strauss placed 26th, Candice Lill 34th and Cherie Redecker did not finish due to illness.
Results: Elite Women
Women’s Overall Standings
1st. Loana Lecomte 1550 points
2nd. Jenny Rissveds 1065
3rd. Pauline Ferrand-Prevot 990
4th. Rebecca McConnell 955
5th. Evie Richards 935
Starting as he left off in the men’s XCC, Henrique Avancini led the start lap with a blistering pace that remained the whole race – the Brazilian was keen to control the pack, and the pack seemed content to sit on. Lap one saw Avancini together in a lead group with Koretzky, Nino Schurter, Alan Hatherly, and Mathias Flückiger, who had moved up from 15th in the start lap; hovering around the five-second mark was a persistent chase, led by Ondrej Cink and including Jordan Sarrou, Thomas Griot and Titouan Carod. Koretzky took his turn on the front as lap two rolled around, but as the riders began to test each other it was Avancini who once again asserted authority with a move back to the head of the race. Behind, Cink had managed to bridge across to the leaders whilst Bartlomiej Wawak, Maximilian Brandl and Carod remained a few seconds adrift. It was Koretzky’s attack on the first climb of lap four that decisively whittled down the lead group; Schurter and Flückiger were quick to close it down, Hatherly lost a couple of bike lengths and Avancini and Cink were dropped. Through the tech zone, Schurter, having won his ninth World title in Val di Sole, put the hammer down and kept the pressure up. With two laps to go, Flückiger played his cards and made a big attack, once again on the tarmac climb – he managed to create a gap, but Schurter reeled him back and it looked like we might have a rematch of the World Championship battle. Koretzky and Hatherly were dogged in their chase though, and, having made it back to the leaders, it was the Frenchman who animated the final lap. An initial dig through the tech zone was backed up with another attack on the final punchy climb of the lap and was enough to put Koretzky a few precarious seconds ahead of the Swiss duo; Koretzky was fully committed and came up over the bridge and onto the finish with a gap big enough to avoid a sprint but small enough to keep him hard on the pedals until the final 50 metres. Behind him, Schurter pulled another sneaky inside line on Flückiger to go into second, at which point Flückiger cracked and settled for third. Hatherly held onto for fourth at eighteen seconds, while Carod was able to pull clear of Avancini to take the final spot on the podium. Arno du Toit – the only other Saffa in the race placed 72nd.
Results: Elite Men
Men’s Overall Standings
1st. Mathias Flueckiger 1429 points
2nd. Ondrej Cink 1089
3rd. Victor Koretzky 1075
4th. Nino Schurter 1004
5th. Jordan Sarrou 935
Next stop: Snowshoe, USA, 19 September
| Credits: Red Bull & UCI & Michele Mondini |