Posted by Editoress on 04/10/22
The 2022 Mountain Bike World Cup XCO series opened on Sunday with a new location, in the rainforests of Petropolis, Brazil, and a new winner. Australian champion Rebecca McConnell (Primaflora Mondraker Genuins) took her first ever Elite women's victory, the first by an Australian woman in more than 20 years. Anne Terpstra (Ghost Factory) was second and defending World Cup champion Loana Lecomte (Canyon CLLCTV) third. McConnell dons the World Cup leader's jersey with her win.
Canadian national champion Jenn Jackson (Canyon MTB) was the top Canadian finisher in 27th place after challenging as high as 20th in the early laps. Her team mate Laurie Arseneault rode consistently in the low-30s to finish 33rd, with Cindy Montambault 38th and Maghalie Rochette (Specialized-CX Racing) 39th.
"It was an absolute heater!," says Jackson. "I got a bit swamped in traffic off the start but just took it as a forced keep-calm for the early singletrack and move up in the more open sections. I was rolling really well, felt like I had everything under control and was up around 20th by the middle of the race but then laps 4-5 the heat took hold and I was just reduced to max suffering at snail speed."
"Still, 27th at the end is my second best XCO result; last year I was 26th in Nove Mesto but that race was a bit of an oddball with conditions. The course was running mint today, and with the changes to the A-line drops it was less tricky conditions than last week, so faster and smoother sailing for everyone... it still felt like a proper mid-summer suffer though, just in April. All in all, I think I'm in a good place heading towards the season, there's things I can do better with what I already have, and if all continues to go well with training and everything, hopefully I can keep moving up!"
"This whole trip to Brazil has been super cool, the scenery is amazing, the people so friendly and welcoming, and our team vibe is absolutely top. Laurie and I have been absolutely buzzing every time we get on course, it's always fun to ride together, and our staff Simon and Theresa make everything better with the energy and expertise they bring to the team."
Heavy rain overnight drenched the technical course and, while much of it dried quickly, there were still sections of the clay track deep in the forest that were wet and slippery.
The race began missing two of the favourites, Trek Factory team mates Jolanda Neff, the Olympic champion, and reigning world champion Evie Richards. Both are suffering from gastrointestinal problems, and World Cup short track leader Pauline Ferrand Prevot (BMC MTB Racing) also pulled out halfway through the race with similar issues.
Loana Lecomte began the race in a similar fashion to last season, when she won the first four rounds by riding the rest of the field off her wheel. The young French rider opened a gap of over 30 seconds on Terpstra and McConnell in the first half of the six lap race, who were the only two riders to stay within a minute of the race leader.
It looked like the battle for first was over, but then Lecomte bobbled on a rock garden on the fourth lap, losing ten seconds, and then the two chasers began reeling her in as the race leader started to struggle, catching her before the end of the lap. Terpstra attacked on the next lap, with Lecomte immediately dropped and eventually finishing 38 seconds down. McConnell was initially gapped by nine seconds, but she continued to chase back up to the Dutch rider.
On the last lap it was the turn of Terpstra to make a mistake, and McConnell rejoined her in the lead, with the Australian attacking on a climb and getting a small gap. Initially only five seconds, McConnell kept pushing, increasing it to ten seconds and then finally 17 seconds at the finish.
Afterwards, McConnell seemed almost dazed, finally achieving the World Cup win she has been chasing for so long. "I can't believe, I really can't believe this is happening. Everyone has been, like, 'it's coming, it's coming', and I've been super consistent over the last couple of years, on the podium more often then not. But that never means that the win is coming."
"Every season you go away for six months to rebuild, and you just don't know if you are going to come back in the same shape, and if everything will go well. But it doesn't mean it is going to happen on race day, so to get a win is just unbelievable. It's so good to be here, and I'm super grateful for everybody who has been supporting me. I'm really happy to share this with everyone. I'm just going to enjoy this and not even think about the next [race]."
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