2017 MTB XCO Na­tion­als

Pedal Magazine - - Contents - by Jack Cracker

The UCI MTB World Cup has been spec­tac­u­lar, with shake­ups in both dis­ci­plines, as well as mul­ti­ple podi­ums from Cana­dian rid­ers. Ju­nior men’s DH su­per­star Finn Iles (CAN, Spe­cial­ized) has four wins out of five events so far. In XCO, Peter Dis­era (CAN, Norco Fac­tory Team) has been turn­ing heads with a strong World Cup cam­paign, high­lighted by a bronze medal in Alb­stadt, Ger­many

XCO

With four of six UCI World Cups in the bag, Yana Belo­moina (UKR, CST Sandd Amer­i­can Ea­gle) holds the elite women’s over­all af­ter land­ing on the podium in each and win­ning rounds two and three in Alb­stadt and Vall­nord, An­dorra. Mean­while, Nino Schurter’s (SUI, Scott-SRAM) lead is nearly in­sur­mount­able as the 2016 Olympic and World champ closes in on set­ting a record for be­ing the first elite man to win ev­ery World Cup in one sea­son.

The elite women’s se­ries has been ex­tremely ex­cit­ing with deep com­pe­ti­tion and lots of ac­tion. When An­nie Last (GBR, OMX Pro Team) won at the fourth stop in Len­z­er­heide, Switzer­land, she made his­tory as the first Bri­tish woman to win a World Cup in 20 years. It also marked an in­cred­i­ble come­back for the young rider, who has faced her share of ob­sta­cles dur­ing the past few years. An­nika Lang­vad (DEN, Spe­cial­ized) started 2017 strong with a win at the first event in Nove Mesto, Czech Repub­lic, where she earned her rain­bow stripes last year, but she has strug­gled with con­sis­tency since.

The Cana­dian women have had some highs and lows this sea­son, with Emily Batty (CAN, Trek Fac­tory Rac­ing) log­ging the best re­sult – a fifth place in round three in An­dorra. Olympic bronze medal­ist Catharine Pen­drel (CAN, Clif Pro Team) hasn’t found her rhythm yet as she tries to shed some bad luck and re­gain her win­ning edge. Pen­drel’s best re­sult in the se­ries to this point is 10th place in Len­z­er­heide.

While Schurter’s dom­i­na­tion may sound bor­ing, the elite men’s races have been any­thing but, with sev­eral chal­lengers ris­ing to the task and try­ing to find gaps in the Swiss rider’s ar­mour. First it was David Valero (ESP, MMR Fac­tory Rac­ing Team) who put up the big­gest fight, fin­ish­ing sec­ond in Nove Mesto, only 26 sec­onds be­hind. One of Schurter’s most in­ter­est­ing ad­ver­saries this year has been 22-year-old cy­clo-cross phe­nom Mathieu van der Poel (NED, Beobank-Coren­don), who led the Swiss star for part of round two in Alb­stadt to even­tu­ally fin­ish sec­ond at 26 sec­onds. No­tably, the pre­vi­ous week­end in Nove Mesto, van der Poel started in 90th po­si­tion, cat­a­pulted him­self into eighth place in the end, and tied with Schurter for the fastest lap time. In Len­z­er­heide, van der Poel once again took turns on the front, but even­tu­ally faded to 10th, as Jaroslav Kul­havy (CZE, Spe­cial­ized) came out of nowhere to fin­ish a sur­pris­ing sec­ond, set­ting the fastest lap of the en­tire race on the fi­nal cir­cuit to cross the line a mere three sec­onds in ar­rears.

The Cana­dian men’s con­tin­gent has had a tough go so far this sea­son as they bat­tle to score points in a ruth­less field. They are led by Olympian Le­an­dre Bouchard (CAN, BH-SR Sun­tour-KMC), whose best re­sult is a stel­lar 16th in Alb­stadt. He is ranked 25th in the over­all.

The ri­valry is in­tense in the U23 women’s se­ries, as the win­ner of rounds one and four and run­ner up in the other two, Kate Court­ney (USA, Spe­cial­ized), leads by only 40 points over sec­ond and third, Sina Frei (SUI, JB Brunex Felt Team) and Evie Richards (GBR, Great Bri­tain Academy Team), who have one win each. The top Cana­dian in the mix is Anne-Julie Trem­blay (CAN, Cy­clone d’Alma Team Canada) in 26th over­all af­ter a break­out 16th-place fin­ish in Alb­stadt.

Canada’s Dis­era started his sea­son fast out of the gate, land­ing a top 10 in Nove Mesto and set­ting the tone for his podium the fol­low­ing week­end. He went on to nab sev­enth in Vall­nord and

10th in Len­z­er­heide. Cur­rently fourth in the over­all, he’s only eight points be­hind third place, Pet­ter Fager­haug (NOR, Team Nor­way). A dif­fer­ent rider has won each round so far with Fager­haug tak­ing the open­ing round, while sec­ond over­all in the stand­ings, Nadir Colledani (ITA, Tor­pado Gabo­gas), sped to the top step of the

podium in the sec­ond event. For­mer Ju­nior World Champ Si­mon An­dreassen (DEN, Spe­cial­ized) earned vic­tory in Vall­nord and se­ries leader Martins Blums (LAT, ZZK) reigned supreme in Len­z­er­heide.

DH

The elite women’s ranks saw an up­heaval of epic pro­por­tions when world num­ber one Rachel Ather­ton’s (GBR, Trek Fac­tory Rac­ing DH) marathon win­ning streak was bro­ken in Fort Wil­liam, Scot­land, dur­ing fi­nal train­ing. She crashed and was un­able to take to the track for the round two fi­nal with a dis­lo­cated shoul­der. This left the door open for a charg­ing Tracey Han­nah (AUS, Poly­gon

UR), who had fin­ished a close sec­ond be­hind Ather­ton in round one in Lour­des, France. In Scot­land, Han­nah earned the sec­ond World Cup win of her ca­reer by over 10 sec­onds. The field was un­set­tled by Ather­ton’s ab­sence, and it was Tah­nee Sea­grave’s (GBR, Tran­si­tion Bikes / FMD Fac­tory Rac­ing) on the top step for round three in Leogang. When Ather­ton re­turned to rac­ing for round four in An­dorra, she lacked her trade­mark ag­gres­sive style. Her ten­ta­tive rid­ing left her in fourth place, while Myr­iam Ni­cole (FRA, Com­men­cal / Vall­nord) took the vic­tory. On a roll, Ni­cole did it again on stop five in Len­z­er­heide. Mi­randa Miller (CAN, Spe­cial­ized) has the best Cana­dian fin­ish so far this sea­son with a sixth in Lour­des, but she’s since been ham­pered by a knee in­jury. Vaea Ver­beek (CAN, Rocky Moun­tain) is the high­est ranked Canuck in the se­ries in 12th.

The elite men’s rac­ing has been heated too. The leg­end Greg Min­naar (RSA, Santa Cruz Syn­di­cate) cap­tured his 20th ca­reer World Cup vic­tory in Fort Wil­liam on a 29er. He would take his 21st in Len­z­er­heide, along with the se­ries lead, but in the sea­son opener, the big favourites were shafted by Mother Na­ture when tor­ren­tial rain hit in Lour­des part­way through the men’s fi­nal, quickly ren­der­ing the course a quag­mire. A good run and luck with the weather al­lowed Alexan­dre Fay­olle (FRA, Poly­gon UR) to take his first ever World Cup tri­umph, fol­lowed in sec­ond by Cana­dian speed­ster Mark Wallace (CAN, Canyon Fac­tory Rac­ing DH). It’s been a thrilling sea­son, with lots dif­fer­ent faces on the podium. In Leogang, Aaron Gwin threw down the quick­est run (USA, The YT Mob), while Troy Bros­nan

(AUS, Canyon Fac­tory Rac­ing DH) owned Fort Wil­liam.

The ju­nior men’s World Cham­pion, Canada’s Iles, only had one blip in his sea­son so far – a sec­ond place in Fort Wil­liam. In all the other stops, he rolled through with the fastest time and has a com­mand­ing lead in the se­ries, while Me­lanie Chap­paz (FRA, Dor­val AM Ni­co­lai) leads the ju­nior women’s stand­ings. There are no Cana­di­ans com­pet­ing in the ju­nior women’s cat­e­gory this sea­son.

Emily Batty cel­e­brates her fifth place at round three in An­dorra

Peter Dis­era (r) earns his first U23 men’s podium in Alb­stadt, Ger­many.

Canada’s Mi­randa Miller claimed sixth in Lour­des, FRA.

Canada’s Finn­ley Iles has four out of five vic­to­ries to lead the Ju­nior Men’s DH Se­ries.

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