After two second places and a third, it was finally first place for Pauline Ferrand-Prevot in Sunday’s UCI Mountain Bike World Cup cross-country race in Nové Město na Moravě as Brazilian Henrique Avancini clinched an emotional men’s win – his first at the Olympic distance.
Sunday’s XCO races were the fourth in six days for those exhausted riders competing in both the Short Track races as well as the longer Olympic discipline.
After leading the early laps on Thursday but ultimately settling for third, Ferrand-Prevot made no mistake in the second half of the gruelling race this time.
The imperious French rider split the leading group to build a commanding lead, however Dutch rival Anne Terpstra closed her lead down to 15 seconds.
Ferrand-Prevot, though, buckled down on the final lap to win her final race as world champion with Terpstra second and Thursday’s winner Loana Lecomte third.
Ferrand-Prevot, 28, explained: “I felt much better than Thursday. I knew when I had to attack. I start full gas and try to open the gap. At the end it was a small gap, but I could make it and I am super happy. It is quite technical on the climb but also on the downhill, so it is better to be at the front. I wanted to trust my lines.”
The men’s race was a completely different affair as the battle was fierce throughout with a lead group emerging comprising Avancini, Nino Schurter, Simon Andreassen, Milan Vader, Alan Hatherly and Victor Koretzky with Jordan Sarrou and Stephane Tempier in the mix too.
It thinned to Koretzky, Vader, Avancini and Schurter with Swiss legend Schurter putting down his marker with a charge that initially left Avancini adrift of them.
2018 marathon MTB world champion Avancini quickly closed the gap with strong legs, which delivered at the crunch when he sprinted clear of Dutchman Vader and Schurter for his first World Cup win at the longer distance after excelling in the Short Track discipline.
An emotional Avancini, 31, said: “This is a dream that has been inside me for around 10 years. I know how much work I put in to get here, and it is such a special moment for me and my country. I am more than happy. Anything is possible when you truly believe and work deeply for something. I don’t have the same talent as those guys. I was really motivated and wanted to beat Nino as he is the most pure talent in this sport.”
2020 UCI MTB World Cup – Nové Město na Moravě
1. Pauline Ferrand-Prevot FRA 1hr14m07s
2. Anne Terpstra NED +0.21
3. Loana Lecomte FRA +1.10
4. Rebecca McConnell AUS +1.33
5. Laura Stigger AUT +1.39
1. Henrique Avancini BRA 1hr25m03s
2. Milan Vader NED +0.01
3. Nino Schurter SUI +0.01
4. Victor Koretzky FRA +0.02
5. Alan Hatherly RSA +0.03
Source: Red Bull Content Pool