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The Mountain World Cup returned to the legendary venue of Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada for Round 8 of the series on Friday, opening with the women’s and men’s XCC (Short Track) races.
Unlike the muddy and slippery riders faced by riders at Snowshoe, USA last weekend, the Mont-Sainte-Anne course was dry and mostly grass. After a short, flat start section, the riders faced a long climb, followed by an equally long winding descent. After another brief up and down, the riders had one final steep legbreaker climb to the finish line.
Cross Country Olympic Champion Jolanda Neff (Trek Factory) clinched her second XCC women’s win of the season in a three-way sprint against round seven winner Gwendalyn Gibson (Norco Factory) and World Cup leader Alessandra Keller (Thomus Maxon) .
The eight-lap race started fast and never slowed down. Keller and XCO World Cup leader Anne Terpstra (Ghost Factory) lead early on the first climb while Lena Gerault (KTM Vittoria) then attacks and pulls out a small lead. She was brought back at the start of Lap 3 and the lead group was gradually reduced to eight end riders including Neff, Keller, Gibson, Terpstra, Gerault, Kate Courtney (Scott-SRAM), Rebecca McConnell (Primaflora Mondraker Genuins) and Caroline Bohe (Ghost Factory) .
Various drivers tried to get away unsuccessfully over the following laps until Keller attacked on the opening climb of the final lap. Only Neff and Gibson could stay with her over the top of the climb. Neff then jumped past Keller and was able to hold the lead until the final climb to the finish line.
“It was incredibly tough, especially the last climb,” said Neff.
“The speed was incredibly high right from the start; I thought it would be a lot slower because everything was on grass. But everyone just went for it. It was a really tough race.
“I knew exactly what I wanted to do before the race and I had my plan. But it was still very tough and I’m glad I had the right plan and was able to implement it.
“I love this place, it’s my favorite place in the world. It’s so natural and so technical – the last three times I’ve started here [XCC and XCO] I won so I just love being here. I’m so happy we’re back after three years.”
With one lap to go, Keller continues to lead the XCC standings by 1300 points. However, Terpstra closes, moving four points ahead of McConnell in second place, 116 points behind Keller.
Terpstra continues to lead the XCO standings after the race but is just 12 points clear of former leader McConnell.
Colombo takes XCC win to keep title hopes alive
Filippo Colombo (BMC) clinched his second XCC World Cup win of the season on Friday in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada to keep his overall title hopes alive.
Jose Ulloa (Massi-Beaumes de Venise) was second and Sebastian Carstensen (KMC-Orbea) third. Series leader Alan Hatherly (Cannondale Factory) had a chance to secure the title with one lap left if he had won but could only finish fifth.
The men approached their nine-lap race much more deliberately than the women, with the entire field still trailing the leader within 15 seconds with three laps to go.
Lap 3 winner Luca Schwarzbauer (Canyon CLLCTV) set much of the pace for the first seven laps while the rest of the contenders happily guided him up the climbs and recovered on the descents.
It wasn’t until Lap 8 that Colombo started to shake things up on the climb and line up the field. He attacked even harder on the final lap, opening a gap on an eight-man chasing group and holding them through the descent and final steep climb to the finish line.
“I knew I was in good shape to come here,” said Colombo.
“I was just trying to stay up front the whole race and on the penultimate lap I knew I still had pretty good legs and I just went flat out going uphill and luckily I was able to pull out a little gap that I did could keep to the goal.
“I haven’t thought about it too much [keeping the battle for the overall title open]but I knew it could be super nice [still have the possibility].”
Colombo moved up to second in the standings ahead of the absent Mathias Flueckiger (Thomus Maxon), 62 points behind Hatherly, setting up a showdown for the finals in Italy’s Val di Sole in early September.