Posted by Editoress on 08/24/18
The final round of the XCC - Short Track - at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup saw some familiar faces on the top of podium in La Bresse, France, on Friday. Annika Langvad (Specialized) proved that she owns the women's race, with her fifth win in six events, while Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) took his third win of the season.
Emily Batty (Trek Factory) was once again the top Canadian in the women's race, finishing 12th, and ensuring herself of a second row start for Sunday's cross-country. Other Canadian results were Haley Smith (Norco Factory) in 21st, Catharine Pendrel (Clif Pro Team) in 23rd, Sandra Walter (Liv Canada) 29th, and Cindy Montambault 30th. Canada had no men in the XCC.
Rain earlier in the day had tapered off by the time the 20 minute races began, but the ground was still thoroughly soaked and muddy. Riders faced a main steep climb before traversing the side of the ski hill and then zig-zagging to the bottom. A second short climb and a final descent back to the finishing straight completed the circuit.
Three riders quickly separated themselves from the rest of the women's field - Langvad, world champion and World Cup leader Jolanda Neff (Kross Racing), and Barbara Benko (Ghost Factory). As in previous races, Langvad attacked in the last five minutes to pull away for the win, with Benko taking second ahead of Neff. The World Cup points offered did not change the lead, however, Langvad did move to within 97 points of Neff.
"You plan different race scenarios, but you are never right," commented Langvad. "You have to go by intuition and feeling. If you had told me one year ago when I first heard about the new format that I would have five wins, I wouldn't have believed it. I'm happy about the whole season."
Batty actually dropped a spot in the overall standings - from fourth to fifth, and Alessandra Keller (Thomus - RN Racing) and Anne Tauber (CST Sandd American Eagle) both moved ahead. However, the gap from third to sixth is a mere 34 points, so the final overall World Cup spots will be decided in Sunday's cross-country.
The men's race did not split up like the women's, with a core dozen riders all in contention going into the last lap, when van der Poel launched a massive attack to drop the rest of the group and take the win. New European champion Lars Forster (BMC) took second ahead of Henrique Avancini (Cannondale Factory). World champion Nino Schurter (Scott-SRAM) had already mathematically locked up the overall title at the previous Mont-Ste-Anne round in Canada, however, van der Poel padded his second place spot over Avancini with his win, and goes into Sunday's XCO with a 64 point advantage over the Brazilian.
"You can lose or you can win with an attack," said van der Poel, "and I won the race there. The final straight was very long, and it would be hard to be there on your own, so I was waiting for the last lap to put the attack in."
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