The Mountain World Cup returned to the legendary venue of Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada, on Friday for Round 8 of the Series, opening with the women's and the men's XCC (Short Track) races.
Unlike the muddy and slippery mess riders faced last weekend at Snowshoe, USA, the Mont-Sainte-Anne course was dry and mostly on grass. After a short flat start section, riders faced a long climb, followed by an equally long twisty descent. After another short up and down, the riders had a final steep legbreaker climb to the finish line.
Olympic cross country champion Jolanda Neff (Trek Factory) took her second women’s XCC win of the season in a three way sprint against Round 7 winner Gwendalyn Gibson (Norco Factory) and World Cup leader Alessandra Keller (Thomus Maxon).
The eight lap race started fast and never slowed down. Keller and XCO World Cup leader Anne Terpstra (Ghost Factory) lead at the start of the first climb, with Lena Gerault (KTM Vittoria) then attacking and getting a small gap. She was brought back by the start of Lap 3 and the lead group was gradually whittled down to eight final riders, including Neff, Keller, Gibson, Terpstra, Gerault, Kate Courtney (Scott-SRAM), Rebecca McConnell (Primaflora Mondraker Genuins) and Caroline Bohe (Ghost Factory).
Various riders attempted to get away in the following laps without success, until Keller attacked on the opening climb of the final lap. Only Neff and Gibson were able to stay with her over the top of the climb. Neff then jumped by Keller and was able to hold the lead up the final climb to the finish line.
“It was incredibly hard, especially the last climb,” Neff said.
“Ever since the beginning the speed was incredibly high; I thought it was going to be much slower because everything was on grass. But everyone just went for it. It was a really hard race.
“I knew exactly what I wanted to do before the race, and I had my plan. But it was still very hard and I'm happy that I had the right plan and that I could execute it.
“I love this place, it's my favourite course in the world. It's so natural and so technical - the last three times I've started here [XCC and XCO] I've won, so I just love being here. I'm so happy that we are back here after three years."
Keller continues to lead the overall XCC standings with one round to go, at 1300 points. However, Terpstra is closing and moves four points ahead of McConnell into second, 116 points back of Keller.
Terpstra continues to lead the XCO standings after the race, but is only 12 points ahead of former leader McConnell.
Colombo takes XCC win to keep overall title hopes alive
Filippo Colombo (BMC) took his second win of the season in the XCC World Cup on Friday in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada, to keep his overall title hopes alive.
Jose Ulloa (Massi-Beaumes de Venise) was second and Sebastian Carstensen (KMC-Orbea) third. Series leader Alan Hatherly (Cannondale Factory) had a chance to lock up the title with one round remaining if he had won, but could only manage fifth.
The men took a much more measured approach to their nine lap race than the women, with the entire field all still within 15 seconds of the leader with three laps to go.
Luca Schwarzbauer (Canyon CLLCTV), winner of Round 3, did much of the pacemaking for the first seven laps, with the rest of the contenders happy to let him lead up the climbs and recover on the descents.
It wasn't until Lap 8 that Colombo started to shake things up on the climb, stringing out the field. On the last lap, he attacked even harder, opening a gap on a chase group of eight and holding it through the descent and up the final steep climb to the finish line.
“I knew I was in good shape coming here,” said Colombo.
“I just tried to stay at the front for the whole race, and on the second last lap I knew I still had quite good legs and I just went full gas on the uphill, and luckily I could make a small gap that I could hold to the finish.
“I wasn't thinking too much about it [keeping the battle for the overall title open], but I knew that it could be super nice to [still have the possibility].”
Colombo moved ahead of absent Mathias Flueckiger (Thomus Maxon) into second in the standings, 62 points behind Hatherly, setting up a showdown for the final round in Val di Sole, Italy, in early September.
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