The Mont-Sainte-Anne World Cup weekend opened on Friday with the fifth round of the new XCC cross-country event, with Annika Langvad (Specialized) taking her fourth win of the season and Sam Gaze (Specialized) his second.
The 20-minute event used Sunday's XCO one kilometre start loop, with the top 16 finishers out of 40 starters scoring start positions on the first two rows for the XCO, as well as collecting half the points of a World Cup. The short circuit had a long opening climb and two shorter climbs, and was a race of attrition for both the women and the men.
Langvad attacked with approximately two and a half laps to go in the seven-lap race, opening a gap on World Cup leader and world champion Jolanda Neff (Kross Racing), which she held to the line. Kate Courtney (Specialized) took third.
"This course was very different," said Langvad.
"It had one bigger climb and two smaller punch climbs, and I could feel by the second lap that I was going really good today. I had a tough couple of weeks at the last two World Cups with my crash at Val di Sole [Italy], but then I went back home and trained, and started to feel really good again, so I came into this race with confidence. With three laps to go I put the hammer down a bit and with two to go I attacked and tried to keep it going from there."
Langvad closed the overall series points gap slightly on Neff, but not enough to take the World Cup lead.
Schurter slowed by a cold
The men's race began with Henrique Avancini (Cannondale Factory) setting the pace for the first half of the race, followed by Gaze, world champion and World Cup leader Nino Schurter (Scott-SRAM), Anton Cooper (Trek Factory) and Mathias Flueckiger (Thomus-RN Racing).
Gaze hung back until the final couple of laps, when he began to up the pace, coming out of the final corner with 75 metres to go with a couple of bike lengths lead, which he kept to the line.
Avancini took second ahead of Flueckiger. Schurter, who is suffering from a cold, backed off in the final laps, finishing 22nd and will start in the third row on Sunday.
"It was tough," admitted Gaze, "Either you were braking and trying to keep speed, or going full gas on the climbs. It was a demanding course and really took its toll. I'm really happy to be back at what I feel is my speed after a tough three months trying to get back to the level I know I can be at."
Despite finishing well back, Schurter continues to lead the overall standings, with the absent Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) also maintaining his second place in the standings.
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