Men & Women Short Track:
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."
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Christopher Blevins (United States Of America)||0:19:30|
|2||Henrique Avancini (Brazil)||0:00:02|
|3||Maximilian Brandl (Germany)|
|4||Ondřej Cink (Czech Republic)||0:00:03|
|5||Alan Hatherly (South Africa)||0:00:05|
|6||Martins Blums (Latvia)||0:00:17|
|7||Jens Schuermans (Belgium)||0:00:21|
|8||Filippo Colombo (Switzerland)|
|9||Gioele Bertolini (Italy)||0:00:23|
|10||Daniele Braidot (Italy)||0:00:24|
|11||Samuel Gaze (New Zealand)||0:00:28|
|12||Maxime Marotte (France)||0:00:29|
|13||Anton Cooper (New Zealand)||0:00:41|
|14||Nadir Colledani (Italy)||0:00:42|
|15||Joshua Dubau (France)||0:00:44|
|16||Quinton Disera (Canada)||0:00:51|
|17||Peter Disera (Canada)|
|18||Gerhard Kerschbaumer (Italy)||0:00:52|
|19||Niklas Schehl (Germany)|
|20||Ben Oliver (New Zealand)||0:01:01|
|21||Matthew Beers (South Africa)||0:01:02|
|22||Martin Haring (Slovakia)||0:01:04|
|23||Sebastian Fini Carstensen (Denmark)||0:01:12|
|24||Luke Vrouwenvelder (United States Of America)||0:01:14|
|25||Stephan Davoust (United States Of America)|
|26||Jan Škarnitzl (Czech Republic)|
|27||Oleksandr Koniaiev (Ukraine)||0:01:20|
|28||Tyler Orschel (Canada)||0:01:22|
|29||Nicolas Delich Pardo (Chile)||0:01:26|
|30||Dmytro Titarenko (Ukraine)||0:01:27|
|31||Bartlomiej Wawak (Poland)||0:01:32|
|32||Marc Andre Fortier (Canada)||0:01:37|
|33||Ulan Bastos Galinski (Brazil)||0:01:41|
|34||Erik Hægstad (Norway)|
|35||Matej Ulik (Slovakia)|
|36||Maximilian Foidl (Austria)|
|37||Jose Gerardo Ulloa Arevalo (Mexico)|
|DNF||Luiz Henrique Cocuzzi (Brazil)|
|DNS||Manuel Fumic (Germany)|
|DNS||Jonas Lindberg (Denmark)|
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Sina Frei (Switzerland)||0:20:11|
|2||Evie Richards (Great Britain)|
|3||Pauline Ferrand Prevot (France)||0:00:01|
|4||Linda Indergand (Switzerland)||0:00:02|
|5||Jolanda Neff (Switzerland)||0:00:11|
|6||Rebecca Mcconnell (Australia)||0:00:17|
|7||Iryna Popova (Ukraine)||0:00:26|
|8||Jenny Rissveds (Sweden)||0:00:37|
|9||Greta Seiwald (Italy)||0:00:41|
|10||Alessandra Keller (Switzerland)||0:00:42|
|11||Candice Lill (South Africa)||0:00:43|
|12||Eva Lechner (Italy)||0:00:49|
|13||Janika Lõiv (Estonia)||0:00:52|
|14||Annie Last (Great Britain)||0:00:58|
|15||Haley Batten (United States Of America)||0:01:01|
|16||Jitka Čábelická (Czech Republic)||0:01:08|
|17||Kelsey Urban (United States Of America)||0:01:11|
|18||Ramona Forchini (Switzerland)||0:01:12|
|19||Laurie Arseneault (Canada)||0:01:16|
|20||Mariske Strauss (South Africa)||0:01:18|
|21||Linn Gustafzzon (Sweden)||0:01:19|
|22||Kristina Ilina (Russian Federation)||0:01:21|
|23||Hannah Finchamp (United States Of America)||0:01:25|
|24||Nadine Rieder (Germany)||0:01:26|
|25||Steffi Häberlin (Switzerland)||0:01:30|
|26||Sandra Walter (Canada)||0:01:31|
|27||Elisabeth Brandau (Germany)||0:01:43|
|28||Viktoria Kirsanova (Russian Federation)||0:02:07|
|29||Janka Keseg Stevkova (Slovakia)|
|30||Haley Smith (Canada)|
|31||Jana Czeczinkarová (Czech Republic)|
|32||Leticia Jaqueline Soares Candido (Brazil)|
|33||Maria Trinidad Moreno Camus (Chile)|
|DNF||Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Netherlands)|
|DNF||Chiara Teocchi (Italy)|
|DNS||Kate Courtney (United States Of America)|
|DNS||Lea Davison (United States Of America)|
|DNS||Nicole Koller (Switzerland)|
|DNS||Lena Gerault (France)|
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