After months of change and uncertainty, the 2020 Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup is finally back. Tuesday delivered a wet and wild Short Track race to open the season which will start and end in Nove Mesto na Morave in the Czech Republic, with four Elite races over six days.
After taking the win in her first ever Short Track race on Tuesday, Evie Richards was last to the grid and quick off the line. Along with Pauline Ferrand-Prevot and Anne Terpstra, she formed the first lead group of the race. They were joined by Sina Frei, Laura Stigger and Kate Courtney.
Soon it was the World Champion, Ferrand-Prevot, who started driving the race at the front. Behind her it was the young French rider, Loana Lecomte, who took up the chase. This was Lecomte’s first Elite World Cup, but after her third place in the XCC she was full of confidence and in contention from the very beginning.
By the mid-race point the U23 French Champion had caught her compatriot and overhauled the World Champion, looking in control. Behind her, Ferrand-Prevot looked safe in second right up to the last lap when Terpstra managed to find an extra gear and quickly close in on the World Champion.
Eventually the chase group split. Lena Gerault and Stigger rode clear to secure fourth and fifth respectively, Terpstra’s strong finish translated to second place and the early race leader, Ferrand-Prevot had to settle for third.
Lecomte was clearly the strongest rider today, and with more than 30 seconds to second place she had time enough to soak in her achievement as she rolled down the finish straight.
After lighting up the Short Track race two days ago with a surprise win, Mexican National Champion Jose Gerado Alluo Alevaro was once again at the front in the cross-country race in the opening laps, but unfortunately fell foul of the wet roots and crashed out.
Henrique Avancini was at the head of affairs from the start and looked to be in charge of the race. Milan Vader’s Dutch National Champion’s jersey was never far from the front, whereas Simon Andreassen, who didn’t race Short Track, had his work cut out to make it to the front of the race.
Mathias Flückiger was the first rider to challenge the authority of Avancini at the front but problems later in the race sidelined him. Avancini himself ended up dropping back whilst Nino Schurter, who struggled to find his rhythm in the early stages of the race, gradually clawed his way back into contention.
As the lead group whittled down, the young guns Vader and Andreassen began to look set for the victory. However, Maxime Marotte was able to put the pressure on and drop Vader on the final lap. With half a lap to go, Andreassen eked out an advantage over Marotte until finally he had time to celebrate his victory ahead of Marotte in second and Vader in third.
The fight for fourth came right down to the line with a sprint finish between Schurter and Avancini, with the World Champion just taking it ahead of the Brazilian Champion.
1 – Loana Lecomte
2 – Anne Terpstra
3 – Pauline Ferrand-Prevot
4 – Lena Gerault
5 – Laura Stigger
1 – Simon Andreassen
2 – Maxime Marotte
3 – Milan Vader
4 – Nino Schurter
5 – Henrique Avancini
Watch it live on Red Bull TV HERE.