A last lap surge that delivered the women’s short-track win to home-nation rider Gwendolyn Gibson (Norco Factory Racing) was soon followed by a victory from XCC world champion Chris Blevins (Specialized Factory Racing), making it an all U.S. day for Round 7 of the XCC at Snowshoe, West Virginia.
Rain through the week leading up to Friday’s race made for a muddy and slippery course, the women lining up first with 31 riders at the start out of a possible 40. Top contenders Loana Lecomte (Canyon CLLCTV), Pauline Ferrand Prevot (BMC) and Linda Indergand (Liv Factory Racing) all elected to skip the race.
Jenny Rissveds (Team 31 Ibis) got the holeshot, with World Cup leader Rebecca McConnell (Primaflora Mondraker Genuins) and Anne Terpstra (Ghost Factory) right behind her. By the end of the first lap, the race was down to five – Rissveds, McConnell, Terpstra, Jolanda Neff (Trek Factory Racing) and Alessandra Keller (Thomus Maxon). McConnell then crashed hard on lap 2, putting her out of contention, while Rissveds kept the pace high at the front, discouraging breakaways.
By the start of the fifth lap, Rissveds had a gap, with Terpstra and Keller chasing. Terpstra began steadily reeling her in on the last lap, catching Rissveds, but Gibson was having an incredible second half to her race, catching both Rissveds and Terpstra in the final 500 metres to take her first World Cup win.
"It hasn't even sunk in yet," said Gibson, "even as I was crossing the finish line, I was thinking, 'is this really happening?'. It's something I have pictured in my head hundreds of times. I didn't think it would happen in my first year of Elite, and definitely not this weekend, but you always think, 'maybe'. I just can't believe it."
McConnell’s crash, which left her with an 18th place finish, meant Keller’s fourth was more than enough to put the Swiss rider into the leaders jersey. Keller now moves 80 points ahead of McConnell in the XCC standings, while McConnell continues to lead the XCO standings, with a 72 point lead over Terpstra.
Patience pays off again for Blevins
In the men’s race it was a fast starting pace set by Vlad Dascalu (Trek Factory), yet there was still a sizeable group at the front of the race by the third lap of the seven lap race. Blevins tested the waters at the front on lap 4, but dropped back as others pushed the pace and began to crash in the slippery conditions.
By the start of the final lap, the lead group was down to four – Blevins, Dascalu, Luca Braidot (Santa Cruz FSA) and Sebastian Carstensen (KMC-Orbea). Dascalu attacked on the first climb, opening a small gap, while Blevins started to pick off the riders in front of him, catching and passing a slowing Dascalu in the final 100 metres. Alan Hatherly (Cannondale Factory) finished sixth, enough to put him in the leader's jersey.
"I thought it couldn't get better [than winning the rainbow jersey]," said Blevins, "but it's just amazing to be here with all these people. This is special.
"It was kind of like Worlds, where I hung back with a bit of a gap and kept patient; I knew that you could gain a lot of ground on the last climb and get up to his [Dascalu] wheel and draft him into the sprint. I don't get to hang out with the U.S. mountain bike scene too much because we are always in Europe, so that's what makes this so special."
Hatherly took the jersey from Mathis Flueckiger (Thomus Maxon), who did not compete at Snowshoe. The South African now leads the XCC by 14 points, while in the XCO standings world champion Nino Schurter (Scott SRAM) leads Dascalu by 195 points.
Results powered by FirstCycling (opens in new tab)
Men's short track results
Women's short track results
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