UCI Mountain Bike World Cup presented by Shimano: Pauline Ferrand-Prévot takes first win of the season at Windham
The UCI Mountain Bike World Cup presented by Shimano concluded on Sunday in Windham, New York, with round 5 of the cross-country. Road World Champion Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (Raboliv) proved that she has not lost any of her mountain bike skills by taking the women’s victory, while Nino Schurter (Scott-Odlo) won his second straight World Cup in the Men. Women’s World Cup leader Jolanda Neff (Stoeckli Pro Team) held onto her leader’s jersey by finishing second in the women, while Schurter added to his lead in the Men’s standings.
The Windham course is ‘old school’ with a long gruelling climb followed by a fast, technical descent. The very dry conditions meant that riders rode in a cloud of dust, and corners were loose and slippery.
Neff did not take her patented fast start, preferring to pace herself in the early laps. Ferrand-Prévot, on the other hand, went straight to the front and rode away from the rest of the field. World Champion Catharine Pendrel (Luna) attempted to match the French rider’s pace in the start loop and first lap, but overextended herself and fell well back to finish an uncharacteristically distant 25th.
Behind Ferrand-Prévot, Neff was moving up to join a chase group consisting of Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Multivan Merida), Annika Langvad (Specialized) and Lea Davison (Specialized).
On the penultimate lap, Neff dropped the others, with Langvad holding on for third, followed by team mate Davison.
“I am really happy, of course,” said Ferrand-Prévot. “Last week I felt really good on the uphill and sometimes in the descent. Today I wanted to take a good start and to fight to be the first if possible on the uphill and to relax a bit on the downhill. It worked, so it was perfect.”
“It is a good course for me, but I didn’t think Catharine Pendrel would be dropped, and when I was alone I said, ‘OK I just have to go full gas and don’t turn back’.”
With one round remaining, Neff now has 1100 points, with Dahle Flesjaa a distant 190 points behind and Pendrel just holding onto third at 726 points, 26 ahead of Davison.
The men’s race saw Schurter take the lead after the start loop, ahead of a chase group containing World Champion Julien Absalon (BMC), Manuel Fumic (Cannondale Factory) and Daniel McConnell (Trek Factory Racing). He was extending his lead into the second lap when he flatted on the descent back to the finish. Luckily for him, he flatted shortly before the tech zone, only losing four spots before he was able to get back in the race.
Up front, Absalon and Fumic were keeping the pressure on, but Schurter impressively moved his way back up to the leaders within a lap. The three rode together until the sixth of the seven laps, when Absalon attacked on the climb. Only Schurter could respond, and the pair entered the final lap together.
Absalon attacked again, and was able to enter the descent ahead of the faster descending Schurter, but the Swiss rider made a bold move through a rock garden to retake the lead and open a slim four second gap, which he held to the line. Fumic took third, with Trek Factory team mates Sergio Mantecon and McConnell rounding out the podium.
“I was suffering quite a bit up the hill,” revealed Schurter. “It was quite a challenge to keep Julien’s wheel on the uphill. I had my last chance in the rock garden and tried to pass him. I actually saw that it worked three laps before when Fumic passed me there, so I tried the same as him and was really happy that it worked.”
“I’m in super great shape, but it is not my course here. Too long a climb for me. At the top I was always suffering. It was great to win at Mont-Sainte-Anne and even greater to win here.”
“I have quite a lead now [in the overall] Absalon is probably now in second, I don’t know what Jaroslav did today, but I would say now I have a good lead. It was two really important races for the overall.”
Schurter now leads the standings with 100 points, with Absalon moving up to second at 910 points and former leader Jaroslav Kulhavy dropping to third at 782 points.