Change of atmosphere ! This weekend, the paddock finds the sun and the Mont-Sainte-Anne circuit, the oldest on the international calendar. On a completely redesigned short-track circuit, the men’s and women’s races offered two very different shows. In the end, it was Jolanda Neff and Filippo Colombo who won, while the French tried their luck… as well as the Belgians! Here are all the results:
With the exception of a two-year break in 2020 and 2021, Mont-Sainte-Anne has always been on the World Cup (or World Championships) calendar since the first edition of the latter, in 1991. C is an understatement to say that the drivers will be on familiar ground on Sunday!
On the other hand, this XCC circuit has nothing to do with that of 2018, the only time the Canadian stage organized this event (in 2019, it was the world championships and the short-track was not yet in the program). This evening, a very wide track, almost entirely on grass and very physical awaits the drivers. It could be described as a big cyclocross and it’s expected to result in some pretty tactical racing.
Waiting, waiting, waiting again and appearing at the right time, on the very last climb just before the finish line: that was Jolanda Neff’s plan at the start of this short track and she executed it to perfection ! At Mont-Sainte-Anne, the Swiss won her second XCC of the season after that of Nove Mesto in the spring.
Things got carried away from the start with a nice attempt from Léna Gérault, who bravely tried her luck on the first laps and counted up to 5 seconds in advance. Unfortunately, a solo raid is almost impossible on a course like this and she will eventually finish 8th, having conceded too much energy at the start of the race to take part in the final packing.
We can nevertheless thank her for giving us a truly unbridled race, since with her breakaway then her repeated attacks until halfway through the race, everyone went flat out and never had time to recover. The selection was made very quickly and the waiting race that we imagined did not really take place.
It was under the impetus of Alessandra Keller that things were decided, with an acceleration in two stages over the last two laps. On the last lap, only Gwendalyn Gibson and Jolanda Neff were still with him at the top of the terrible climb that followed the crossing over the start line.
Very active since the start of the race, Keller had to bow in the last meters against his two opponents. Overtaken by Neff in a hairpin, she was then overtaken by Gibson on the climb placed just before the finish. With this second place, the American confirms that her victory in Snowshoe was not due to chance and we will still have to count on her on Sunday.
Behind the podium, Anne Terpstra took 4th place, followed like her shadow by her young teammate in Ghost Factory Racing, the Danish Caroline Bohé. Kate Courtney, very consistent at the end of the season, is 6th, Rebecca McConnell 7th and Léna Gérault 8th.
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These 8 pilots will therefore be on the front line on Sunday for the XCO. Behind them, the second line will be more heterogeneous with regulars like Martina Berta (10th), Mona Mitterwallner (12th) and Greta Seiwald (13th) or even Janika Lõiv (9th), returnees like Haley Batten (11th) or surprises and news, such as the Canadian Jennifer Jackson (14th), the Swiss Steffi Häberlin (15th) or the American Kelsey Urban (16th), teammate of Jenny Rissveds.
It should also be noted that the Swede had decided not to take the start this Friday, again a little sick according to the first information. We don’t know yet if she will be at the start on Sunday. Apart from that, we can also point out the abandonment of Emily Batty due to a mechanical problem or once again the dead ends of Loana Lecomte and Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, who preferred to stay in Europe to better prepare for the world championships in Les Gets.
Wait, wait, wait again… and surprise, there is a small nuance! If the women’s race was animated from start to finish, that of the men was much more tactical (to present it nicely) and at this little game, Filippo Colombo excels. Starting in the descent on the last lap after accelerating on the climb, he also won his second victory of the season!
Before that, not much happened in this men’s event. After a lap and a half of “organisation”, Luca Schwarzbauer took the lead as usual and led the whole field, lap after lap, until the final explanation in the last two loops.
At the start of the penultimate lap, it was already Filippo Colombo who took charge of increasing the pace and shaking up a still well-supplied leading group. Without more effect than a small selection but that did not prevent him from trying his luck again in the next round.
This time, the Swiss champion’s acceleration was sharper and only two riders were still in his wheel when he went downhill: Gerardo Ulloa and Sebastian Fini. However, the BMC driver was not yet finished and with a restart, he isolated himself for good in the lead. His lead will never exceed 3 or 4 seconds but it will be more than enough to go to the end, even giving him time to raise his arms before the line.
Behind, we fought for second place on the last climb and it was ultimately Gerardo Ulloa who proved to be the strongest, ahead of Sebastian Fini.
Jens Schuermans failed in 4th place, followed by Alan Hatherly in 5th position, Pierre de Froidmont in 6th, Titouan Carod in 7th and Jordan Sarrou in 8th place. On Sunday, we will therefore have two Frenchmen and two Belgians on the first starting line! Are you sure we are talking about mountain biking?
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Badly rewarded for his efforts of the day, Luca Schwarzbauer ranks 9th. He is followed by Luca Braidot, David Valero, Thomas Litscher, Nadir Colledani, Bartlomiej Wawak, Martin Blums and the German Julian Schelb, who is making his first foray into an XCC top 16.
Among the other notable results, we can mention the 22nd place of Maxime Marotte who barely grabs the 3rd row and the 31st of Nino Schurter, obviously not yet recovered from his big fall last week. Positive for Covid-19, Christopher Blevins is out for the weekend (and that’s a shame given his current form) while Mathias Flückiger, Joshua Dubau and Stéphane Tempier skipped this round.