Not only did Kate Courtney (Scott-SRAM) win again at the World Cup XCO in Nove Mesto na Morave (Czech Republic), so did Chloe Woodruff (Pivot – Stan’s No Tubes), which made for a different results sheet than any we’ve seen in a long time.
Last weekend in Albstadt, Courtney became the first American to win a World Cup round in 20 years. This weekend, she followed it with another win and a huge gap between her and second place, Rebecca McConnell.
Racing started with the UCI Short-track on Friday. Annika Langvad (Specialized) has struggled to get back to her short-track form this season and got caught behind the pack early on. Elisabeth Brandau charged hard and held a lead through the middle of the race, but couldn’t maintain the power.
Chloe Woodruff seized the opportunity and put herself 20 seconds ahead of the rest of the race to battle for second place. Nobody could match Woodruff’s pace.
“It means a lot,” she said. “[I was] definitely inspired by Kate last weekend. I’ve been racing short-track a long time. I love it.”
Annie Last placed 2nd, with Neff, Courtney, and Pauline Ferrand-Prevot in 3rd, 4th, and 5th.
In men’s short-track, Henrique Avancini (Cannondale) led early on, but Mathieu van der Poel (Canyon) blazed past in the final five laps. The Dutch racer, who is the current UCI Cyclocross World Champion and a dominant road cyclist as well, piloted the pack to the finish line with Cannondale riders Maxime Marotte and Avancini right behind. Nino Schurter (Scott-SRAM) and Carlos Coloma Nicoloas finished in 4th and 5th.
“I started to attack, which was really painful at first, but I had to go full gas to defend it,” said van der Poel.
After a full day’s rest, the cross-country racing kicked off again on the longer course, full of steep, rooty climbs and rocky descents packed with drops, rock gardens, and even a paved pump track.
Schurter and Van der Poel found themselves battling again with the two trading the lead spot a few times. Every time Schurter took the lead Van der Poel stayed on his tail with just as much power.
In the chase group, Mathias Fluckiger (Thomus), Avancini, and Czech rider Ondrej Cink fought to fill the rest of the podium, but were more than a minute behind Schurter and Van der Poel.
On the final lap, it looked like Schurter would keep his lead and edge out van der Poel once again. Schurter was smooth and rode the descents seamlessly, but his power waned compared to van der Poel’s on one of the last climbs.
Van der Poel passed before another big climb, appeared to shift into a higher gear, and started sprinting with Schurter behind him. At the next time split, Van der Poel had put 15 seconds between him and the reining World Champ. Van der Poel kept his pace, but there was no need for a sprint to the finish line this time. Schurter placed 2nd and Flueckiger, Avancini, and Cink respectively filled the rest of the podium.
In the women’s race, the field chased after Anne Tauber up until the final lap. Courtney closed the distance on her several times, from 15 seconds back to five seconds, but still couldn’t pass Tauber.
Courtney kept her power as high as possible the whole time, knowing that she wasn’t far behind Tauber and still had a chance if Tauber slipped up at all.
That chance came when Tauber disappeared from the camera on one of the course climbs. Commentators speculated as to what happened when Courtney emerged in first place with no sign of Tauber and almost a minute ahead of the chase group. Tauber had suffered a mechanical and was sidelined as Courtney and the rest of the group passed by.
For the second World Cup round and second weekend in a row, Courtney rode to gold, this time far ahead of anyone else.
“A mistake (and mechanical problem as a consequence) in the final lap was a big misfortune and I was thrown back to the 10th position. ‘Til then I‘d had a really good race and I feel positive and happy about that,” said Tauber on Instagram.
Rebecca McConnell, Haley Smith, and newly elite riders Sina Frei, and Malene Degn secured the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th positions.
Jolanda Neff suffered a flat tire in the last lap and still managed to take 8th place. Annika Langvad sat this round after announcing that she felt like she is “far from 100% from race fit.” She says she plans to race next in Andorra.
UCI World Cup continues with a downhill round in Fort William, Scotland this coming weekend, June 1 and 2, and then the following weekend June 8 and 9 in Leogang, Austria. XCO will pick up again in Vallnord, Andorra on July 6.