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Lecomte, Flückiger win Leogang World Cup short track

For the first time this season, World Cup leader Rebecca McConnell (Primaflora Mondraker Genuins) looked vulnerable at Round 4 of the thort Track World Cup in Leogang, Austria, finishing fifth. Loana Lecomte (Canyon CLLCTV), the defending World Cup champion and winner of this event last year, took her first win of the season. McConnell still leads the overall standings, with a 200 point buffer over Alessandra Keller (Thomus Maxon).

Rain over the past few days drenched the course and, although it was sunny for race day, the course was muddy and slick in many sections. The one kilometre circuit is dominated by a long steep climb, and many riders crack after going out too hard in the early laps.

McConnell went to the front on the first lap, with only Jenny Rissveds (Team 31 Ibis), Keller and Haley Batten (Specialized Factory) able to follow. Batten was the first to get dropped, but she was replaced by Lecomte, one of the best climbers on the World Cup circuit.

Lecomte then upped the pace on the climb on fifth lap and McConnell couldn't respond, starting to fall back as her earlier efforts began to catch up with her. Keller also began to fade in the last lap and a half, with both Anne Terpstra (Ghost Factory) and Caroline Bohé (Ghost Factory) passing to take the remaining podium spots. Lecomte won on a flattening rear tire.

"I felt good today," said Lecomte. "I had a flat tire for the last two laps, so I tried to go slowly in the downhill so that I could finish the race. It's a very good start for the weekend, I can't wait for Sunday's [XCO] race."

While McConnell still leads the overall standings, former second place Pauline Ferrand Prevot (BMC MTB) drops to seventh after skipping the event. Keller moves up to second from fourth and Lecomte jumps to third from 10th.

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Flückiger repeats at Leogang XCC World Cup

Mathias Flückiger (Sui) Thomus Maxon wins

(Image credit: Rob Jones)

Defending World Cup champion Mathias Flückiger (Thomus Maxon) took his first World Cup win of 2022 on Friday, at Round 4 of the Short Track (XCC) series in Leogang, Austria. Flückiger was followed across the line by Vlad Dascalu (Trek Factory) and Vital Albin (Thomus Maxon). XCC World Cup leader Luca Schwarzbauer (Canyon CLLCTV) finished a distant 30th, but managed to hold onto the leader's jersey by a slim three points ahead of Flückiger, who jumped to second in the standings from 10th.

Rain over the past few days drenched the course and, although it was sunny for race day, the course was muddy and slick in many sections. The one kilometre circuit is dominated by a long steep climb, and many riders crack after going out too hard in the early laps.

A crash on the opening lap climb took Round 2 XCC winner Sam Gaze (Alpecin Fenix) out of contention, as Henrique Avancini (Cannondale Factory) charged to the front. Avancini led a large group for the first four laps, with Flückiger, Dascalu and others content to follow. It wasn't until the fifth lap when the first, and decisive, attack took place; Flückiger and his team mate Albin upped the pace and only Avancini and Dascalu could follow.

The two Thomus Maxon riders upped the pace again on the next lap to drop the other two, and then Flückiger opened the throttle to ride away solo for the remaining two laps. Behind, Dascalu caught the fading Albin in the final lap, who managed to barely hold off Avancini for third.

"I was excited before the race and in the race. This track suits me. I enjoy riding here, and when you enjoy it, you normally have a good performance," Flückiger said. "It was really motivating [to have teammate Albin with him at the front]. The start of this season was not what I was looking for, but now I think I am approaching my peak for the season; it is coming together more and more. This give me confidence for Sunday [XCO] and for the season."

In the overall standings, Schwarzbauer has 541 points to Flückiger's 538, with Avancini only three more points back.

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