Well, the mountain bike season is coming closer to an end.
That was a tough sentence to write.
This weekend was a big one in Lenzerheide, Switzerland for the UCI mountain bike championships. Although the season is technically over, it’s entertaining to watch athletes represent their country, rather than the brand that sponsors them.
The big news is that Californian Kate Courtney not only won her first World Cup race, but did so at at World Champs, the first time an American has won the rainbow jersey since 2001.
The overall season closed two weeks ago in La Bresse, France, and the one-off World Championships went down this past weekend. Winners of the World Championships will wear the UCI rainbow jersey all next season.
Overall 2018 winners
The young Frenchman Amaury Pierron had a knock-out season and took the overall title in men’s downhill. Although it looked like Tahnee Seagrave had a shot at the overall, Rachel Atherton proved that she’s still at the top of her game.
In cross-country, Nino Schurter had a few hiccups during the season, but still remained consistent enough to dominate. Jolanda Neff sealed the women’s title after a stunning season and recovery from a broken collarbone.
2018 World Championships winners
As mentioned above, Kate Courney took the XCO World Champ title this weekend in Lenzerheide, Switzerland by knocking out Annika Langvad and Emily Batty.
This also marks Courtney’s first win in the elite women’s World Cup field. Seven out of eight results for her were in the top ten this season.
Before the World Cup season though, Courtney teamed up with Langvad to take the win at the insane Absa Cape Epic stage race, considered by many “the Tour de France of mountain biking.”
Courtney talked about what helped her grind it out to the finish line in an interview with the UCI.
“At the end of the day, believing that I could be up there and taking a shot when I had it,” she said as she fought back tears.
It’s going to be even more exiting to see what’s possible for Courtney next season.
It looked like Nino Schurter might’ve been off his game at the season opener in Stellenbosch, South Africa in March when Sam Gaze beat him in a sprint.
2018 was far from Schurter’s spectacular 2017 season, but still a strong year for him nonetheless.
He took wins in Albstadt, Germany; Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic; La Bresse, France, and finally in his home country for Worlds this weekend at Lenzerheide.
The cheering must’ve really amped up Schurter in the final lap. He looked unstoppable in his sprint to the finish and put an 11-second gap between him and second place, Italian Gerhard Kerschbaumer.
Kerschbaumer, Sam Gaze, Mathieu van der Poel, Anton Cooper, and Henrique Avancini will all be gunning for Schurter next year.
Tahnee Seagrave has been on Rachel Atherton’s heels all season long and the two have been trading wins with each other. Seagrave has reached a very competitive point in her career, and while it seemed like Atherton may be past her peak, she appears to have found another peak altogether.
In Lenzerheide, Tracey Hannah, Marine Cabirou, Myriam Nicole, and Tahnee Seagrave all put their best runs down and waited at the bottom. Seagrave held the lead before Atherton dropped in, and there was about a six second spread between Seagrave and Hannah.
Atherton sprinted out of the gate, racking up time all the way down to the bottom. When she wheelied into the finish gate, she had a 10-second lead over Seagrave, and almost 15-seconds over the rest of the top five females. Margins like this are almost unheard of in pro downhill.
“There was a couple of sections where I nearly went down, but it’s World Champs, it’s all or nothing,” Atherton said in an interview with the UCI.
Frenchman Loic Bruni will sport the rainbow jersey for a third time, and for the second year in a row.
Bruni’s overall season wasn’t the best. He did take the win at Mont Sainte Anne, but the rest of his season was hit and miss, with results ranging from 28th at Val di Sole, to top tens in La Bresse, France; Vallnord, Andorra; and Fort William, Scotland.
“I knew I had maybe too much confidence, so I tried to slow down in my run and not make mistakes I made in the past,” Bruni told the UCI.
Aaron Gwin’s thumb seems like it finally healed up. He still has yet to put a winning Worlds run together, but given his rough 2018 season, he’s probably pretty happy about 5th place in Lenzerheide.
Amaury Pierron has been the one to watch all season long. He took the podium by storm at Fort William, Scotland and then took two more wins this season. Unfortunately for Pierron, he went down on his final run in Lenzerheide.
See ya next year
And that’s it for the 2018 World Cup season. Venues for the 2019 season haven’t been announced yet, except that World Championships will be held at Mont Sainte Anne in Quebec, Canada.
It’s been quite a season to watch and we’re already excited for 2019.
Who do you think the biggest contenders will be next year?