Posted by Editoress on 08/4/19
Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) took the second Mountain Bike World Cup win of his career on Sunday, at Round 5 in Val di Sole, Italy. His win moved him from third to second in the overall standings, behind Nino Schurter (Scott-SRAM), who was third on the day, behind Mathias Flueckiger (Thomus RN).
Canadian men struggled, with Leandre Bouchard (Pivot Cycles-OTE) the top finisher, in 42nd place. National champion Peter Disera (Norco Factory) was still in the top-30 after the start loop and first lap, but then faded to finish 67th, while Andrew L'Esperance (Norco Factory) was 75th and Raphael Gagne (Team Canada) was 105th.
In the Under-23 men's race, national champion Sean Fincham (Norco Factory) had a good start, in the top-3 at the end of the first lap, but then fell back after getting stung by a bee to finish 17th. Quinton Disera (Norco Factory) was 24th, Raphael Auclair (Pivot Cycles-OTE) 78th and Gunnar Holmgren 91st. Fincham remains fourth overall in the standings.
After an extremely muddy short track on Friday, racers were back to good weather for the XCO on Sunday. The Val di Sole course, site of the 2008 world championships, has 190 metres of climbing per lap, and is known for some of the longest and steepest climbing on the World Cup circuit, with early leaders often fading in the final lap.
By the end of the start loop, the race was down to three riders after a scorching fast start - van der Poel, Schurter and Henrique Avancini (Cannondale Factory). Flueckiger bridged across, as did Gerhard Kerschbaumer (Torpado Ursus) and Stephane Tempier (Bianchi Countervail). However, when Flueckiger upped the pace on the final climb of the lap, only Schurter and van der Poel could go with him.
The three rode together for the rest of the race, setting a relentless pace. Van der Poel and Flueckiger appeared to be climbing better than Schurter, but the world champion used his bike handling skills to quickly rejoin them on every descent. It wasn't until the final lap when the trio broke apart, with a massive attack by van der Poel on the first climb. Schurter was the first to get dropped and then Flueckiger, as the new European champion kept the pressure on for the entire climb. By the top he was ten seconds ahead of Flueckiger and 20 seconds in front of Schurter. He padded that on the remaining two climbs to finish 18 seconds in front of Flueckiger, with Schurter at 53 seconds.
"It was really hard," admitted van der Poel. "I felt really good from the beginning of the race, but I think Flueckiger and Schurter were also feeling good, because the pace was incredibly high. When one of us wasn't riding full gas, another one was, so the pace never dropped, making it a fast and hard race. I attacked [on the last lap] because I wanted to be first in the descents; I was the only one of us taking the B-line on the second drop, so I wanted to have some gap before that. I felt there was still something left in the tank, so I just tried to go full gas on the first climb, and I got a gap. It has been a good weekend for me as the European champion."
Schurter's overall lead was not in danger, with a 206 point lead going into the race, however, van der Poel has now cut that to 116 points. Avancini remains in third, but Flueckiger has closed to within 22 points of the Brazilian. Disera dropped to 16th from tenth in the overall rankings, while Bouchard moves up one spot to 47th.
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