The opening round of the Cross-country World Cup in Cairns, Australia, saw the winner of the final round of 2015 continue her winning ways, with Annika Langvad (Specialized Racing) becoming the first rider to don the leader's jersey in 2016.
Cairns has a long history in mountain biking, stretching back to the 1996 world championships. This year's event will be a final test event for organizers before they host the world championships next year (2017), and then the Commonwealth Games (for cross-country) the year after.
Two years ago, riders faced torrential rain, turning the course into a mud bog, however, despite rain earlier in the week, on race day the 4.3-kilometre course was hard, dusty and fast. After a flat start loop, the riders head out to a long and, in places, technical climb for the first half of the circuit. Once at the top, it is a fast and technical descent to the bottom, with a final flat loop to the finish. The dry conditions led to numerous riders suffering flats on the sharp rocks and roots.
The women's field was missing a number of the top riders, who elected to skip the long trip to Australia. Among those absent were Jolanda Neff (Stockli), Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Multivan Merida) and Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Rabo Liv).
Langvad quickly jumped into the lead, with only Linda Indergand (Focus XC) able to respond. Australian champion and local favourite, Rebecca Henderson (Trek Factory Racing) initially went with the front two, but the pace was too much and she had to back off, eventually being caught by Catharine Pendrel (Luna).
Langvad and Indergand stayed together until a lap and a half to go, when the Danish rider attacked on the climb, quickly opening a gap, which she held to the finish line. Henderson, buoyed on by the crowd dropped Pendrel to take third.
"This [win] is so special," said Langvad. "The first one [in Val di Sole, Italy, last year] was quite a surprise to me, because I came straight from a crazy race the weekend before and I was absolutely dead during the week leading up to Val Di Sole. So to win that one was absolutely amazing."
"This week I struggled a lot with the jet lag and the heat and everything and only just yesterday I felt great. So I said today I don't care about anything, let's go. I felt really good and I focused a lot on staying within my comfort zone, and it paid off quite well."
"Only in the last kilometre I allowed myself to say 'yeah, this is really, really amazing'. I'm just so excited because it's the first time I have the leader's jersey in the World Cup and it is so special to
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Annika Langvad (Den) Specialized Racing||1:28:41|
|2||Linda Indergand (Swi) Focus XC Team||0:00:10|
|3||Rebecca Henderson (Aus) Trek Factory Racing XC||0:00:52|
|4||Catharine Pendrel (Can) Luna Pro Team||0:01:14|
|5||Sabine Spitz (Ger)||0:01:24|
|6||Helen Grobert (Ger) Ghost Factory Racing||0:01:41|
|7||Emily Batty (Can) Trek Factory Racing XC||0:02:44|
|8||Kathrin Stirnemann (Swi) Haibike Oetztal Pro Team||0:02:47|
|9||Jenny Rissveds (Swe) Scott-ODLO MTB Racing Team||0:03:09|
|10||Katerina Nash (Cze) Luna Pro Team||0:03:23|
|11||Corina Gantenbein (Swi) Haibike Oetztal Pro Team||0:03:39|
|12||Alessandra Keller (Swi) Stöckli Pro Team||0:04:04|
|13||Chloe Woodruff (USA)||0:04:27|
|14||Perrine Clauzel (Fra) BH-SR Suntour-KMC||0:04:32|
|15||Julie Bresset (Fra) BH-SR Suntour-KMC||0:04:56|
|16||Adelheid Morath (Ger) BH-SR Suntour-KMC||0:05:12|
|17||Esther Süss (Swi) Wheeler Pro Team||0:05:31|
|18||Georgia Gould (USA) Luna Pro Team|
|19||Lea Davison (USA) Specialized Racing||0:05:37|
|20||Alexandra Engen (Swe) Ghost Factory Racing||0:05:42|
|21||Elisabeth Osl (Aut) Ghost Factory Racing|
|22||Yana Belomoina (Ukr) CST Superior Brentjens Mountainbike Racing Team||0:06:08|
|23||Eva Lechner (Ita) Luna Pro Team||0:06:21|
|24||Sandra Walter (Can)||0:06:24|
|25||Chengyuan Ren (Chn) China Jiangsu ZGL MTB Team||0:06:42|
|26||Kate Fluker (NZl)||0:07:19|
|27||Erin Huck (USA) Scott-3Rox Racing||0:08:17|
|28||Samara Sheppard (NZl)||0:08:19|
|29||Tanja Zakelj (Slo) Unior Tools Team||0:08:57|
|30||Ekateryna Anoshina (Rus)||0:09:05|
|31||Hanna Klein (Ger)||0:09:49|
|32||Peta Mullens (Aus)||0:10:06|
|33||Mary Mcconneloug (USA)|
|34||Margot Moschetti (Fra) CST Superior Brentjens Mountainbike Racing Team||0:10:07|
|35||Nathalie Schneitter (Swi) Rose Vaujany Fueled By Ultrasports||0:10:24|
|36||Cindy Montambault (Can)||0:10:25|
|37||Karla Stepanova (Cze)||0:10:57|
|38||Jovana Crnogorac (Srb)||0:11:30|
|39||Anne Terpstra (Ned) Ghost Factory Racing||0:12:25|
|40||Elisabeth Brandau (Ger)||0:13:57|
|41||Mio Suemasa (Jpn)||- 1 lap|
|42||Ingrid Richter (Ger)|
|43||Karen Hill (Aus)||- 2 laps|
|44||Sabrina Enaux (Fra)|
|45||Kim Hurst (NZl)|
|46||Haley Smith (Can)||- 3 laps|
|47||Myra Moller (NZl)|
|48||Kanako Tanikawa (Jpn)|