Annie Last (Milka Brentjens) became the first-ever World Cup winner in the new eliminator discipline at Houffalize, Belgium. Last won in convincing fashion against a strong field.
The eliminator was introduced last year as a test event, and this year becomes a full-fledged World Cup series, with three races and a world title on the line. The top 32 qualifiers from a timed lap of the circuit move onto the main competition: single lap races by heats of four riders, with the top two moving on to the next round.
In the women's field, Dutch rider Anne Terpstra (MPL Specialized) qualified first, followed by Kathrin Stirnemann (Sabine Spitz Haibike) and former downhill world champion Tracy Moseley. Last and co-favourite Eva Lechner (Colnago Sudtirol) qualified further back, in seventh and ninth respectively.
However, once the racing started, the skills and strength of these two cross country competitors ensured that they would be in the final four. They were joined by Terpstra and unheralded Jenny Rissveds (Team Sweden).
Last got the holeshot out of the start, with Lechner having an uncharacteristically bad start and dropping to fourth at the bottom of the climb. By the top, Lechner was into second, but there was nowhere to pass on the narrow, twisting descent. The Italian did try a last ditch pass in the final corner, but caught her bars on Last, taking both riders down.
Last was first to regain her feet, and took the win. Rissveds took third, followed by Terpstra, who had also crashed in an attempted pass of Lechner earlier in the heat.
"I am really pleased with this," said Last. "It is a really, really tough course. The steep ups and downs mean you have to get a good start, or people can come around you on the hill. Getting the lead after the start makes a massive difference, it means you have a bit more control of the race. You come out of the corner with a bit more speed. That one climb on the back you have to really jive.
"I almost lost it on the last corner. Eva tried to go to the inside, and we both went down. It was ok, 'cuz where it was was ok, no one else was there to come around."
"I had a very bad start on the final and was last for the climb," said Lechner. "I tried to get to the front before the downhill but could only get to second. Then, I tried to pass in the final corner, but there was not enough space and I crashed. I'm happy with second, I tried for the win."
|1||Annie Last (GBr) Milka Brentjens MTB Racing Team|
|2||Eva Lechner (Ita) Colnago Sudtirol|
|3||Jenny Rissveds (Swe)|
|4||Anne Terpstra (Ned) MPL Specialized MTB Team|
|5||Kathrin Stirnemann (Swi) Sabine Spitz Haibike Team|
|6||Alexandra Engen (Swe) Ghost Factory Racing Team|
|7||Tracy Moseley (GBr)|
|DNS||Mona Eiberweiser (Ger) Ghost Factory Racing Team|
|9||Pavla Havlikova (Cze)|
|10||Ingrid Sofie Jacobsen (Nor)|
|11||Helen Grobert (Ger)|
|12||Heidi Sandsto Rosaasen (Nor) Team United Bakeries|
|13||Anneke Beerten (Ned) Milka-Superior MTB Racing Team|
|14||Kajsa Snihs (Swe)|
|15||Chloe Woodruff (USA)|
|16||Ana Zupan (Slo) Energijateam.com|
|17||Ann Berglund (Swe)|
|18||Monika Zur (Pol) 4F E-Vive Racing Team|
|19||Henriette Elvrum Handal (Nor) Merida NTG|
|20||Sabrina Maurer (Swi) Bskgraf Rollmat-Koba MTB Team|
|21||Lucie Vesela (Cze) GT Bicycles Opportunity|
|22||Paula Gorycka (Pol) 4F E-Vive Racing Team|
|23||Tina Perse (Slo)|
|24||Felicia Ferner (Swe)|
|25||Erica Zaveta (USA) Moda-Bikemagic Racing Team|
|26||Imogen Buick (GBr) Moda-Bikemagic Racing Team|
|27||Hanna Vergeles (Ukr) ISD MTB Team|