July 10, 2017 (Lenzerheide, SUI) – The fourth stop on the UCI MTB XCO World Cup took riders to Lenzerheide, Switzerland where Canada did not score any podiums however, Peter Disera (Norco Factory) had his fourth straight top-10 in Under-23 Men, while both Emily Batty (Trek Factory) and Catharine Pendrel (Clif Pro) finished in the top-10 in Elite Women.
Nino Schurter (Sui) Scott-SRAM MTB Racing Team claimed his fourth consecutive victory in the Elite Men’s 29km race and remains unbeaten this season while Annie Last (Gbr) OMX Pro Team won her first World Cup ending a 20-year draught for British women.
Riders were met with Lenzerheide’s 4.2km circuit at around 1,500 metres above sea level. The circuit consisted of a consistent climb in the opening portion of the lap, followed by a technical forested sections which included several short steep ascents.
Due to extremely wet conditions from rainfall the evening before, a lap was cut from the Elite Women’s race to six during the event, and the Elite Men’s race was shortened as well to seven laps.
Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Nor) Team Merida Gunn-Rita took an early lead in the Elite Women’s race looking for her 30th World Cup win. Yolanda Neff (Sui) Kross Racing was there as well but last weekend’s winner in Andorra, Yana Belomoina (Ukr) CST Sandd American Eagle, soon took over second with Batty having a good start and slotting into fourth.
As Belomoina and Dahle Flesjaa battled up front both Neff and Batty fell off the pace. Behind Last and Pendrel were making gains with the Brit joining the leaders and suddenly had the pole position with one lap remaining. Pendrel, who didn’t have her best start, moved up well into sixth but suffered on the final lap to end up 10th.
Batty, who suffered a slip-out crash on the penultimate lap, recovered to finish 7th. “I’m disappointed with today’s performance,” admitted Batty. “I was hoping to build on my successes in Andorra, and I prepared well. The form is there, and I delivered a great start, but I honestly needed more times splits or position feedback during the race to target a better result and find my rhythm on the course. I also made a few little mistakes which all adds up, especially when the level of racing is extremely tight on a track like Lenzerheide. I’m well within the winning position, I just need to find a way to close that gap.”
Pendrel definitely felt better than last week, commenting “I’m super pleased with today and to feel like myself again out there riding aggressively. It was disappointing to lose four spots in the last lap, but I think I just used too much gas coming through traffic on laps 1 and 2 to be able to up the pace on the last lap. Looking ahead I’m excited for Nationals and MSA and will be ready to put out a strong race. ”
In the overall standings, Batty moves up two spots to eighth, while Pendrel remains in 17th as Belomoina continues to lead the series. Haley Smith (Norco Factory) finished 23rd, her best result of the season, Sandra Walter (Canadian National) was 27th, Catherine Fleury (Canadian National) was 41st and Cindy Montambault (Canadian National) was 50th.
Schurter was challenged in the Elite Men’s 7-lap race but proved once again that he’s the one to beat. Watching from the sidelines recovering from injury was Julien Abaslon (Fra) BMC as Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) forced the pace for two laps but then fell back and seemed to recover but was not a threat again.
Schurter took over the lead with Maxime Marotte (Fra) Cannondale Factory Racing XC and a new challenger Anton Sintsov (Rus) Jbg – 2 Professional MTB Team in tow. Sintsov surged into the lead briefly but Schurter was never in trouble.
Moving up the ranks was Olympic gold medalist from 2012, Jaroslav Kulhavy (Cze) Specialized, who suddenly became a threat as he passed everyone to take over second coming within 9s of Schurter. But Schurter prevailed for his fourth straight victory this season and remains unbeaten.
There were only two Canadians in the Elite Men’s race – Leandre Bouchard (BH SR Suntour KMC) and Andrew L’Esperance (Canadian National). Bouchard, starting back in the seventh row, managed to make his way up to 37th, while L’Esperance finished 60th, after starting on the ninth row.
In the Under-23 Men’s race, Disera had a strong start that saw him in fourth at the end of the first lap, but he began to struggle in the second half of the race, just holding on to tenth at the finish.
Disera maintains his fourth place overall in the standings. Marc-Andre Fortier (Pivot Cycles-OTE) was 40th, Raphael Auclair (Pivot Cycles-OTE) finished 43rd, Quinton Disera (Norco Factory) was 46th, Sean Fincham (Canadian National) placed 54th and Felix Belhumeur (Pivot Cycles-OTE) was 89th.
Anne Julie Tremblay (Canadian National) was the top Canadian in the Under-23 Women’s category, finishing 29th, with Soren Meeuwisse (Canadian National) 38th and Amelie Simard 46th. Tremblay is the only Canadian in the rankings, in 26th place.