Elite Men: -
Martin Loo (Hawaii) took his first UCI win at the Windham Mountain Pro-XCT in a massive come-from-behind effort. Veteran World Cup racer Florian Vogel (Focus Bikes) finished second, 1:38 behind Loo. Lukas Baum (UCI MTB) rode consistently to claim third place. Andrew L'Esperence (Norco Factory Team) finished fourth, while Georg Egger (Lexware Mountain Bike) rounded out the podium in fifth place.
Americans were shut out of the podium, although Russell Finstereald (SRAM-TLD-Scott) finished in sixth place.
Temperatures in excess of 90 degrees F, high humidity, mud, and threatening rain impacted on the race. 20 of 53 starters did not finish due to a variety of issues including heat and punctures.
Rising star Keegan Swenson (Cannondale 360 Fly) took the hole-shot on a grassy start and led the peloton onto a starting loop. Lukas Baum took control at the riders headed up the long climb known as Alp d'Huez.
As they crested the mountain, a group of four that did not include Loo had broken away. In addition, Swenson and L'Esperence had been gapped by the pacemaking of Baum.
Near the top of the climb Florian Vogel asserted himself and began what looked like a winning move. Loo was riding in the third group, but began to pick off riders ahead of him.
Loo commented on what happened when he reached Vogel, "I did not really attack, but just rode my pace." Apparently the pace was just too high for Vogel, who surrendered more than a minute to the Estonian.
By the third lap, the race had strung out somewhat and the final podium positions were set.
In previous editions of the race at Windham, climbing seemed to rule the day. However, for last year's World Cup, new sections of trail were added including "Rock no Roll," a rock garden with no obvious lines and sharp rocks. Technical ability became much more important on the revised course.
With Pro-XCT series leader Rapheal Gagne in Rio for the Olympics, it was uncertain if he would hang onto the title. In the end he did, as the three riders trailing him also did not attend. Only Derek Zandstra could have potentially passed Gagne in the standing, but that required a first place finish which did not happen. Zandstra finished in eighth place.
Maximillian Brandl (Lexware) won the U-23 race, which was run at the same time as the Elites. Marc-andre Fortier was second in that contest.
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