Posted by Editoress on 06/10/22
Defending World Cup champion Mathias Flueckiger (Thomus Maxon) took his first World Cup win of 2022 on Friday, at Round 4 of the Short Track (XCC) series in Leogang, Austria. Flueckiger was followed across the line by Vlad Dascalu (Trek Factory) and Vital Albin (Thomus Maxon). XCC World Cup leader Luca Schwarzbauer (Canyon CLLCTV) finished a distant 30th, but managed to hold onto the leader's jersey by a slim three points ahead of Flueckiger, who jumped to second in the standings from 10th. There were no Canadian men in the race.
Rain over the past few days drenched the course and, although it was sunny for race day, the course was muddy and slick in many sections. The one kilometre circuit is dominated by a long steep climb, and many riders crack after going out too hard in the early laps.
A crash on the opening lap climb took Round 2 XCC winner Sam Gaze (Alpecin Fenix) out of contention, as Henrique Avancini (Cannondale Factory) charged to the front. Avancini led a large group for the first four laps, with Flueckiger, Dascalu and others content to follow. It wasn't until the fifth lap when the first, and decisive, attack took place; Flueckiger and his team mate Albin upped the pace and only Avancini and Dascalu could follow.
The two Thomus Maxon riders upped the pace again on the next lap to drop the other two, and then Flueckiger opened the throttle to ride away solo for the remaining two laps. Behind, Dascalu caught the fading Albin in the final lap, who managed to barely hold off Avancini for third.
"I was excited before the race and in the race," said Flueckiger; "this track suits me. I enjoy riding here, and when you enjoy it, you normally have a good performance. It was really motivating [to have team mate Albin with him at the front]. The start of this season was not what I was looking for, but now I think I am approaching my peak for the season; it is coming together more and more. This give me confidence for Sunday [XCO] and for the season."
In the overall standings, Schwarzbauer has 541 points to Flueckiger's 538, with Avancini only three more points back.
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