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May 27/24 12:15 pm - Isabella Holmgren Takes Double Win at Nove Mesto, Gunnar 8th

Posted by Editoress on 05/27/24

Isabella Holmgren (Trek-Lidl) and her brother Gunnar Holmgren (KMC Ridley) became the frontrunners to represent Canada in the XCO at the Paris Olympics this summer, after posting career-best results this past weekend at the World Cup in Nove Mesto, Czechia.

Under-23 Women
Isabella Holmgren, who moved up to the Under-23 ranks this season after winning the Junior women's world title last year, dominated her category in her first-ever U23 World Cup, winning both the XCC on Friday and the XCO on Saturday. In the XCO, Holmgren led from start to finish, winning by over two minutes, recording the fastest lap splits in all but one lap, and posting the only sub-13 minute lap of the race. Also finishing in the top-5 was Canadian champion Emilly Johnston (Trek Future), in fourth. Ella MacPhee (Pivot Cycles-OTE) was tenth, putting three Canadians in the top-10. Marin Lowe (Pittstop) was 28th, and Isabella's sister Ava was working her way up through the field, and on track for a top-10 result before illness caught up with her on the penultimate lap, dropping her to 40th. She managed to recover to 34th in final lap. Ella Myers was 64th and Nicole Bradbury 67th.


Winning the XCC

Winning XCO


XCC podium

XCO podium

"It was definitely really hard," admitted Holmgren. "I had a front row start which was really nice and helpful because there was a lot of crashing behind me. I tried to stay out of trouble and race my own race. The roots were slippery, so I was making sure to be super cautious on the descents and gave it my all on the climbs."

Kira Bohm (Cube Factory) leads the overall standings after three rounds with wins in the first two rounds. Emilly Johnston remains in second, Ella MacPhee is tenth and Isabella Holmgren is 11th, despite having not raced the first two rounds.

Isabella Holmgren and Emilly Johnston are the only Canadian women to meet the Olympic qualifying criteria, so one of them will represent Canada in Paris; likely Isabella after her win. The official team announcement will be made at the end of June.

Under-23 Men
Zorak Paille (Pivot Cycles-OTE) was the top Canadian finisher in the Under-23 men's XCO, in 15th place, and sits 16th in the overall standings. Paille rode as high as 13th. American Riley Amos (Trek Factory-Pirelli) took his third straight wins of the season in both the XCC and XCO. In other Canadian results, Owen Clark was 28th, Ian Ackert (Trek Future) 41st, Cam McCallum 73rd, Noah Ramsay 82nd and Alexander Woodford 99th. Cole Punchard (Pivot Cycles-OTE) did not start due to illness.

Elite Women
Nove Mesto was the final chance for Canadian champion Jenn Jackson (Liv Factory) to qualify for the Olympics, requiring a top-12 finish. For the first half of the race, Jackson was in that zone, before fading to the high teens in the second half. Her difficulties were compounded by a mechanical issue in the final lap, dropping her to 29th at the finish line. Sandra Walter was 44th, Laurie Arseneault (Pittstop) 48th and Emma Olsen 74th.

World champion Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Ineos Grenadiers), in her first World Cup of the season, dominated the entire race, to beat Round 2 winner Haley Batten (Specialized Factory) by over a minute. Batten continues to lead the overall standings, with Jackson in 17th place.



Ferrand Prevot called it "a great race. I wanted to go at my own speed, and I knew I wanted to do the first lap at the front, so I pushed at the start and tried to maintain the speed. I can't tell you I was feeling good, but I was just trying to ride my own race and push as much as possible."

Elite Men
Just as with Jackson, Nove Mesto was the final opportunity for Gunnar Holmgren to meet the Olympic criteria. Carter Woods (Giant Factory) had already done so, but was not racing due to illness. Holmgren had a good starting spot, after finishing 15th in the XCC to get a second row start for the XCO. He never slipped below 11th during the race and managed to ride as high as fourth with two laps to go, to eventually take eighth, his best ever World Cup result. Leandre Bouchard (Foresco Holding Proco RL) was 64th, Raphael Auclair (Pivot Cycles-OTE) 81st and Victor Verreault (Foresco Holding Proco RL) 87th.

"This was my last chance to qualify for the Olympics so the race was a focus since the end of the season last year," explained Holmgren. "Everything came together on the day for me and having a bit of extra stoke from my sister Isabella's performance definitely helped."



World champion Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) started on the front row, but struggled in the first few laps before surging back to the front on Lap 3 to ride away to victory in his first World Cup of the season, beating defending World Cup champion Nino Schurter (Scott-SRAM) by 32 seconds.

Pidcock said, "I can be quite pleased with that as my first race of the year. Once I got going, and got to the front, I was able to find my own pace."

Despite a relatively poor showing in 20th place, Victor Koretzky (Specialized Factory) continues to lead the overall standings. Gunnar Holmgren is 24th, with Carter Woods 28th.



Isabella Holmgren Wins U23 XCC in Nove Mesto

Isabella Holmgren Wins U23 XCO

Elite XCC in Nove Mesto results

Elite XCO in Nove Mesto results, Gunnar Holmgren 8th


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