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MTB Worlds: Blevins, Frei win short track titles

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2021 MTB Worlds XCC

Christopher Blevins (USA) celebrates victory in the men's short track at the UCI MTB World Championships (Image credit: Rob Jones)
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2021 MTB Worlds XCC

Sam Gaze, Henrique Avancini, Christopher Blevins, Anton Cooper at the start (Image credit: Rob Jones)
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2021 MTB Worlds XCC

It was a dry, dusty race (Image credit: Rob Jones)
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2021 MTB Worlds XCC

Henrique Avancini and Sam Gaze (Image credit: Rob Jones)
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2021 MTB Worlds XCC

Christopher Blevins leading the chase group (Image credit: Rob Jones)
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2021 MTB Worlds XCC

Ondrej Cink (Czech Republic) was very aggressive (Image credit: Rob Jones)
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2021 MTB Worlds XCC

Christopher Blevins leading Maximilian Brandl and Alan Hatherly (Image credit: Rob Jones)
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2021 MTB Worlds XCC

Christopher Blevins starts his sprint (Image credit: Rob Jones)
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2021 MTB Worlds XCC

Henrique Avancini, Christopher Blevins, Maximilian Brandl on the men's short track podium (Image credit: Rob Jones)
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2021 MTB Worlds XCC

A very close sprint between Sina Frei and Evie Richards (Image credit: Rob Jones)
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2021 MTB Worlds XCC

Evie Richards, Sina Frei, Pauline Ferrand Prevot on the women's short track podium (Image credit: Rob Jones)
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2021 MTB Worlds XCC

Evie Richards throws her bike, but it is too late (Image credit: Rob Jones)
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2021 MTB Worlds XCC

Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Image credit: Rob Jones)
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2021 MTB Worlds XCC

Jolanda Neff leads at the start (Image credit: Rob Jones)
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2021 MTB Worlds XCC

Jolanda Neff, Eva Lechner, Linda Indergand (Image credit: Rob Jones)
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2021 MTB Worlds XCC

(Image credit: Rob Jones)
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2021 MTB Worlds XCC

Christopher Blevins celebrates his world title (Image credit: Rob Jones)
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2021 MTB Worlds XCC

Sina Frei (Switzerland) (Image credit: Rob Jones)
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2021 MTB Worlds XCC

Sina Frei celebrates her title (Image credit: Rob Jones)

The first-ever world titles in the Short Track (XCC) were awarded on Thursday evening in Val di Sole, Italy. Sina Frei of Switzerland took the women's title, to enter the history books as the first Short Track world champion, while Christopher Blevins of the United States won the men's title, the first American man to win in a cross-country event since John Tomac in 1991 - also in Italy at Ciocco.

While the XCC has been a fixture of the World Cup for the past few years, it has been used as a qualifier for a good start position in the main XCO event. This year is the first year it is a stand-alone rainbow jersey event, and the intense action of these 20-minute races was cranked up even higher with a world title on the line.

The course featured punchy climbs in the first half before riders hit the berms of the 4-cross circuit, leading into a descent and a final 300-metre flat section of grass with a U-turn at 100 metres from the finish line.

Frei outduels Richards

The women's race quickly came down to six riders - the three Swiss Olympic medalists - Frei, Linda Indergand and Olympic champion Jolanda Neff, plus Evie Richards (Great Britain), Pauline Ferrand Prevot (France) and Rebecca McConnell (Australia). These six rode together until the final lap, when first McConnell and then Neff fell off the pace.

Coming into the final 250 metres, it was a battle between Frei and Richards to get the holeshot into the final 180-degree turn 100 metres from the finish line. Frei came out of the corner first, and held off Richards at the line as both riders threw their bikes. Ferrand Prevot finished just behind in third.

"In the beginning of the race I was waiting. But in the last lap I finally tried to be in the front on the last lap, but I wasn't really sure if I could make it. I went all out, but the finish was super tight with Evie, so I was happy to win that sprint finish," Frei said about her strategy for the win.

"My coach always tells me I spend too much time at the front, and I probably did," admitted Richards. "It was a bit nervous out there and I wanted to stay near the front, but I was maybe too much at the front."

Blevins sprints to Short Track title

The men's race saw surges come in waves for the first half of the race, dropping the lead to half a dozen by the top of the climbs, only to come back together to a group of 15 or so on the flat. By Lap 5 (of 8), the leaders had pretty much come down to seven - Blevins, Henrique Avancini (Brazil), Max Brandl (Germany), Ondrej Cink (Czech Republic), Alan Hatherly (South Africa), Filippo Colombo (Switzerland) and Martins Blums (Latvia).

Cink attacked on the fifth lap, taking Avancini with him, but the rest of the group, minus Blums and Colombo, were back with them by the penultimate seventh lap. Brandl then tried an attack just before the start of the final lap, and initially gained some ground as no one wanted to lead the chase. However, he was fading as they went through the 4-cross section, and was caught with less than 300 metres to go.

There was a slight pause in the action with the catch, and Blevins pounced, opening a few metres before the last turn and then powering down the final 100 metres to win by a few bike lengths. Avancini won the sprint for silver ahead of Brandl.

"I grew up doing short tracks, and I've been dreaming of this race for a few years," said Blevins. "I didn't know what chance I had against these guys, so I just tried to stay composed and wait for the finish. I did surprise myself a bit; it was an incredible ride."

Avancini, who has struggled all season, was happy to return to the podium. "I have some mixed feelings, it's been a hard season for me, so on the personal side, it was great to be on the start line today and feel competitive once again. It's been a while since I've felt happy racing my bike and feel the fire burning."

Elite Men Short Track
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Christopher Blevins (United States Of America) 0:19:30
2Henrique Avancini (Brazil) 0:00:02
3Maximilian Brandl (Germany)
4Ondřej Cink (Czech Republic) 0:00:03
5Alan Hatherly (South Africa) 0:00:05
6Martins Blums (Latvia) 0:00:17
7Jens Schuermans (Belgium) 0:00:21
8Filippo Colombo (Switzerland)
9Gioele Bertolini (Italy) 0:00:23
10Daniele Braidot (Italy) 0:00:24
11Samuel Gaze (New Zealand) 0:00:28
12Maxime Marotte (France) 0:00:29
13Anton Cooper (New Zealand) 0:00:41
14Nadir Colledani (Italy) 0:00:42
15Joshua Dubau (France) 0:00:44
16Quinton Disera (Canada) 0:00:51
17Peter Disera (Canada)
18Gerhard Kerschbaumer (Italy) 0:00:52
19Niklas Schehl (Germany)
20Ben Oliver (New Zealand) 0:01:01
21Matthew Beers (South Africa) 0:01:02
22Martin Haring (Slovakia) 0:01:04
23Sebastian Fini Carstensen (Denmark) 0:01:12
24Luke Vrouwenvelder (United States Of America) 0:01:14
25Stephan Davoust (United States Of America)
26Jan Škarnitzl (Czech Republic)
27Oleksandr Koniaiev (Ukraine) 0:01:20
28Tyler Orschel (Canada) 0:01:22
29Nicolas Delich Pardo (Chile) 0:01:26
30Dmytro Titarenko (Ukraine) 0:01:27
31Bartlomiej Wawak (Poland) 0:01:32
32Marc Andre Fortier (Canada) 0:01:37
33Ulan Bastos Galinski (Brazil) 0:01:41
34Erik Hægstad (Norway)
35Matej Ulik (Slovakia)
36Maximilian Foidl (Austria)
37Jose Gerardo Ulloa Arevalo (Mexico)
DNFLuiz Henrique Cocuzzi (Brazil)
DNSManuel Fumic (Germany)
DNSJonas Lindberg (Denmark)

Elite Women Short Track
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Sina Frei (Switzerland) 0:20:11
2Evie Richards (Great Britain)
3Pauline Ferrand Prevot (France) 0:00:01
4Linda Indergand (Switzerland) 0:00:02
5Jolanda Neff (Switzerland) 0:00:11
6Rebecca Mcconnell (Australia) 0:00:17
7Iryna Popova (Ukraine) 0:00:26
8Jenny Rissveds (Sweden) 0:00:37
9Greta Seiwald (Italy) 0:00:41
10Alessandra Keller (Switzerland) 0:00:42
11Candice Lill (South Africa) 0:00:43
12Eva Lechner (Italy) 0:00:49
13Janika Lõiv (Estonia) 0:00:52
14Annie Last (Great Britain) 0:00:58
15Haley Batten (United States Of America) 0:01:01
16Jitka Čábelická (Czech Republic) 0:01:08
17Kelsey Urban (United States Of America) 0:01:11
18Ramona Forchini (Switzerland) 0:01:12
19Laurie Arseneault (Canada) 0:01:16
20Mariske Strauss (South Africa) 0:01:18
21Linn Gustafzzon (Sweden) 0:01:19
22Kristina Ilina (Russian Federation) 0:01:21
23Hannah Finchamp (United States Of America) 0:01:25
24Nadine Rieder (Germany) 0:01:26
25Steffi Häberlin (Switzerland) 0:01:30
26Sandra Walter (Canada) 0:01:31
27Elisabeth Brandau (Germany) 0:01:43
28Viktoria Kirsanova (Russian Federation) 0:02:07
29Janka Keseg Stevkova (Slovakia)
30Haley Smith (Canada)
31Jana Czeczinkarová (Czech Republic)
32Leticia Jaqueline Soares Candido (Brazil)
33Maria Trinidad Moreno Camus (Chile)
DNFCeylin del Carmen Alvarado (Netherlands)
DNFChiara Teocchi (Italy)
DNSKate Courtney (United States Of America)
DNSLea Davison (United States Of America)
DNSNicole Koller (Switzerland)
DNSLena Gerault (France)

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