Posted by Editoress on 09/6/19
The final round of the 2019 Mountain Bike World Cup opened on Friday, at Snowshow, West Virginia, with the Short Track (XCC). The two Olympic XCO champions were the winners, and for both it was their first ever XCC win. Jenny Rissveds (Team 31) took the women's win and Nino Schurter (Scott-SRAM) the men's; for Schurter, it wrapped up his seventh World Cup overall title. The top Canadian rider for the day was Peter Disera (Norco Factory), ninth in the men's race.
The circuit around Snowshoe's ski village was fast, mostly on grass, hard packed dirt and paving stones, with one short, steep climb, immediately followed by a similar descent. A large and enthusiastic crowd came out for the first World Cup in the United States since 2015.
World Cup leader Jolanada Neff (Trek Factory) jumped away from the field at the start of the women's race, but was brought back and eventually dropped by a chase group led by Rissveds, world champion Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Canyon Factory), Kate Courtney (Scott-SRAM) and Rebecca McConnell (Primaflora Mondraker Rotor). Rissveds attacked with three laps to go, was brought back and then attacked again at the start of the final lap to stay away for the win. Ferrand Prevot took second and Courtney third.
Catharine Pendrel (Clif Pro) was the top Canadian for most of the race, with Haley Smith (Norco Factory) just overtaking her at the finish to take 14th, one place ahead of Pendrel. Emily Batty (Trek Factory) finished 28th.
With her third place and Neff's 16th, the American moves to within 20 points of her Swiss rival going into Sunday's XCO final. Ferrand Prevot and Anne Terpstra (Ghost Factory) are in a battle for third overall, while McConnell, Anne Tauber (CST Sandd Bafang) and Sina Frei (Ghost Factory) are in a similar fight for the fifth and final spot on the overall podium. Pendrel remains the top Canadian in the standings, droppingone spot after the XCC, to 11th. Smith remains 13th and Batty moves up one spot to 22nd.
"It's cool," said Rissveds. "It's only my second time doing the Short Track. It is such a great atmosphere here; even on a training lap, everyone was cheering - 'Go Jenny!', and 'We're glad you are back'. In Europe, they don't do that. Before I took my break, all I could think about was winning, and it's pretty tough when you don't win, and I got very disappointed in myself. So now I try to focus more on my speed and the rhythm of my body, and not too much about the finish at the beginning of the race."
The dominant rider in the Short Track this year, Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) is absent from Snowshoe, as he prepares for the Road world championships, opening the door for multiple riders to win. A large group formed at the front of the men's race, including Schurter, Titouan Carod (BMC), Jordan Sarrou (Absolute-Absalon), Ondrej Cink (Kross Racing), Luca Braidot (CS Carabinieri-Cicli Olympia-Vittoria) and Henrique Avancini (Cannondale Factory). Schurter tried a couple of small attacks going into the last few laps, thinning the bunch a little, and then attacked hard going into the final lap. Avancini went with him but crashed at the base of the climb, leaving Schurter to solo in for the win. Carod took second and Sarrou third. Disera had a strong start before fading slightly mid-race, to be caught by the only other Canadian in the race, Leandre Bouchard (Pivot Cycles-OTE). However, Disera recovered in the final two laps to finish ninth, with Bouchard ending up 16th.
Since van der Poel will not race the XCO, there is no one who can catch Schurter in the standings. In fact, van der Poel likely has second wrapped up and Avancini third, while an absent Mathias Flueckiger (Thomus RN) is also assured of fourth, leaving as the only real battle the one for the fifth and final spot on the World Cup overall podium - between Gerhard Kerschbaumer (Torpado Ursus) and Sarrou. Disera moves up one spot to 16th in the standings, with Bouchard remaining in 38th place.
"It was amazing to wrap up the title, and I'm super happy to finally win my first ever Short Track," said Schurter. "Today I had awesome legs, but it was a bit lucky for me at the end, when Avancini crashed. I wasn't sure that I would be in full race mode after the world championships last week, but as soon as the race started, I was able to switch it on and be in full battle mode."
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