Posted by Editoress on 05/28/17
While no Canadians were on the podium on the second day of competition at Round 2 of the Mountain Bike World Cup on Sunday, in Albstadt, Germany, there were multiple top-20 performances, with Emily Batty (Trek Factory Racing) the best in tenth place, despite a flat on the final lap. In Elite Men, Leandre Bouchard (BH-SR Suntour-KMC) had a career-high 16th place finish. In the Under-23 women's race held earlier in the day, Anne-Julie Tremblay (Equipe du Quebec / Cyclone d'Alma) finished 16th and is 20th overall in the standings.
Canadian head coach Dan Proulx summarized the project by saying: "The first two World Cups of the year are always challenging - especially after an Olympic Games. New riders emerge and established riders are still rebuilding fitness."
The rides that Peter [Disera - 3rd in Under-23 Men] and Léandre did were exceptional. They've invested a lot of time and energy into gaining European experience since they were Juniors. They've climbed each and every rung of the ladder over here. You can only gain their level of experience by being here - and working your way through the ranks. We aim to give as many riders as possible this experience in the hopes of finding other riders who can rise to the challenge like they did."
"Catharine and Emily are still very much on track with where we feel they should be in a post-Olympic year. The higher the level of performer, the more important the periodization of rest and recovery across the entire quadrennial becomes. They're where we need them to be right now. I have total confidence in them."
Round 2 saw multiple lead changes, with with Round 1 winner Annika Langvad (Specialized) crashing heavily in the dry and dusty conditions and finishing a distant 16th. Yana Belomoina (CST Sandd American Eagle), Maja Wloszczowska (Kross Racing) and Jolanda Neff (Kross Racing) battled for the top spot, with Belomoina passing Wloszczowska in the final lap to take her first Elite World Cup win, and move into the overall leader's jersey. Wloszczowska was second and Neff third. Belomoina leads with 390 points, followed by Wloszczowska at 350 and Langvad at 324.
"I cannot believe it," said Belomoina. "It was an amazing day. I just tried to do my best, to save my podium spot. The first laps were so hard for me, but I just want to stay on the podium for fifth place. On the last two laps I just felt I could fly."
Both Rio Olympians Batty and Catharine Pendrel (Clif Pro Team) started further back on the grid than they usually do, after having problems in the first Round that lowered their ranking in the series. However, both moved up strongly through the field, with Pendrel reaching fifth before crashing and sliding back to finish 14th. Batty had moved up to seventh on the final lap before a flat tire dropped her down a few placings. After two rounds, Batty is 12th in the overall standings and Pendrel 17th.
"Even though I was in the third row it worked out fine for me and I had a good start," said Batty, "but I lost a lot of time on the first climb because it was so loose. I got up as far as seventh on the last lap, I think, and then I rear flatted on the second last descent. So I'm happy with tenth, it's better than last week and I felt like I was racing more like myself."
"My start was horrible," admitted Pendrel, "so I spent a lot of energy to get up to fifth, and I think that once I got there I was in the red and I was just pushing too hard on a loose corner and went down, and just couldn't get back into a rhythm after that. Definitely it's a bummer; I've shown I have the speed and just haven't put together a complete race yet. I just need a little bit of luck and a little bit of fine tuning."
Sandra Walter was the top Team Canada rider, finishing 24th. "I think this is my best Euro World Cup result of my career. I'm really happy with how I rode today. It was really fun mixing it up in the top-20 for a while before I faded a bit in the last few laps. There was a lot of attrition today with the heat, the climbs and the loose, dry track, which took lots of victims. I just stayed calm and in control. It definitely helped that I had good legs and my form is also good. The Team Canada staff support made it easy to do my job."
Other Canadian results include Cindy Montambault (Team Canada) in 39th, Haley Smith (Norco Factory) in 47th and Catherine Fleury (Team Canada) in 48th.
Pre-race, there was considerable speculation as to how multi-time cyclo-cross world champion Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) would fare, after finishing eighth a week earlier in the first round. The race quickly became a battle between Round 1 winner and world champion Nino Schurter (Scott-SRAM) and van der Poel. In the early laps the pair were joined at the front by Matthias Fluckiger (Radon Factory) until he crashed and had to abandon the race. van der Poel also crashed but was able to catch up to Schurter temporarily, until the Swiss rider attacked on the fourth lap and steadily pulled away to record his 22nd World Cup win. Anton Cooper (Trek Factory) finished third.
"I made a stupid mistake," admitted van der Poel, "and crashed pretty hard [on Lap 3]. I lost contact with the [front] group and hurt my knee a little bit. It was hard to get my pace back on. I'm very happy with the race, only a bit disappointed with the stupid mistake; otherwise it was a nice battle with Nino. I'm really starting to like it mountain biking, especially when you can start from the first row; I enjoyed it a lot today."
Schurter leads the men's standings with a perfect 500 points, followed by David Valero (MMR Factory) at 350 and van der Poel at 310 points.
"It is a tough course and the conditions today were brutally hot," said Schurter. "It was a hard fight with van der Poel. I got a bit nervous when he [van der Poel] was at the front. I have never raced with him really and this was the first time I saw him race. It is always a bit strange when you have someone with you that you don't know; where his strengths or weaknesses are. I was glad when I was finally able to drop him."
Rio Olympian Leandre Bouchard started well back but worked his way forward.
"I'm pretty proud, this is my best result ever at the World Cup," said Bouchard. "The course is one of the most physical we have on the World Cup, with pretty long and steep climbs. This wasn't the best course for me because I am so tall, but when you have the legs, you have the legs. I started back, but I just kept looking for places to pass and slowly move up. There was an opportunity with the heat also as people got tired, so the strategy was to just keep moving up when I could."
In other Canadian results, Derek Zandstra (Cannondale-3Rox) was 24th, Raphael Gagne (Cannondale-3Rox) was 41st, Andrew L'Esperance (Team Canada) was 68th and Evan McNeely (Team Canada) was 113th.
Andrew L'Esperance summed up the project: "I am happy with my performance today at one of the hardest World Cups on the circuit. I had a good start lap and did my best from my start position. I was climbing well and descending fast. Unfortunately, I got a puncture on the second last lap in the Devils Corner section. I got a quick change by [team mechanic] Adam of Cycling Canada in the pit but I gave up a several positions and my shot at finishing on the lead lap. Great lessons and looking forward to my next chance to race a World Cup."
In the Under-23 women's race held earlier in the day, Anne-Julie Tremblay (Equipe du Quebec / Cyclone d'Alma) finished 16th and is 20th overall in the standings. Mackenzie Myatt finished 53rd.
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