Tragedy Overshadows Triumph at the Final UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Meribel

Tragic events at the Final UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Meribel overshadow the seasons end.

Jolanda Neff World CUp Meribel
Jolanda Neff cycles to victory in the final Cross Country MTB race of the 2014 UCI MTB World Cup series ©Michal Červený

The final race in the 2014 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup series took place in Meribel, in glorious sunshine, on a series of courses that were challenging, natural, and well received by the athletes.

But it was a weekend overshadowed by tragedy. On Friday, during the Cross Country Eliminator race qualifications, 20 year old Dutch rider Annefleur Kalvenhaar, who raced on the Focus XC team, crashed badly. She was taken to Grenoble hospital and placed in intensive care, but unfortunately passed away on Saturday.

UCI President Brian Cookson expressed his shock and sympathy at the news. “I’m devastated to hear that the cycling family has lost one of its members at such a young age. Our deepest thoughts are with her family and friends.”

The cycling community is a close-knit group, and the loss was undoubtedly profoundly felt amongst the other racers. The UCI asked competitors if they still wished to compete in the Olympic Cross Country races on Sunday, and they chose to race in Annefleur’s memory, taking a 2 minute silence before the races began, and wearing flowers on their bikes in her honor.

UCI XCE MTB – Round 7, Meribel

The final race of the 2014 XCE World Cup Series is also the final race full stop, as this format is being pulled from the calender for 2015.

A short, tough but technical course saw riders compete for the final points of the season, with Linda Indergand of Switzerland beating fellow country woman Kathryn Stirnemann to first place.

1. Linda Indergrand
2. Kathryn Stirnemann
3. Ingrid Boe Jacobson
4. Jenny Rissveds
5. Michelle Hedigar

For the full results, visit the UCI Results Page.

UCI DH MTB – Round 7, Meribel

It’s safe to say that the course at Meribel was a popular one based on the reactions of the riders. Incredibly steep, taped wide to allow riders to pick their own lines, and natural, it was a relentless rollercoaster of roots, rocks and drops. And open section with off-camber turns brought riders out into the open for a climactic finish where precious milliseconds were won or lost.

As the last round in the 2014 season, it wasn’t just the race victory at stake but also the overall World Cup title. Manon Carpenter came into the round in the lead, but both Emmeline Ragot and Rachel Atherton were hot on her heels.

In the event itself, Rachel – who was clearly loving the tough technical course – stormed into victory, with Ragot 3 seconds behind her and Carpenter in 3rd. However, that was just enough to keep the overall lead, and Carpenter becomes the 2014 World Cup Champion.

It was a great day for the British women, with 4 women in the top 10. Tahnee Seagrave took another podium position, coming in 5th behind Tracey Hannah, and Fionn Griffiths placed 6th.

1. Rachel Atherton – 3.40.415
2. Emmeline Ragot – 3.43.820
3. Manon Carpenter – 3.46.524
4. Tracey Hannah – 3.52.563
5. Tahnee Seagrave – 3.56.301

Visit the UCI Results Page for the full results.

 UCI XCO MTB – Round 7, Meribel

As with the Downhill, the course was a departure from the groomed, graveled trails used in a lot of events in the series. Two gruelling climbs tested  the fitness and technical ability of the racers to the limit. Technical ascents saw riders navigate uphill rock gardens, and on the downhills there were rooty rocky sections with drops in sections that wouldn’t have looked out of place on the downhill course.

Jolanda Neff of Switzerland made a break at the start and maintained her lead throughout to take the victory. It’s been a great season for Jolanda, and we are sure there is plenty more to come. Placing second was Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa, who at 41 has been racing for nearly two decades and has the fitness, stamina and skill to show for it.

Pauline Ferrand-Prevot, whose name you might recognise from La Course, the new women’s road race that took place on the Champs Elysee this summer, placed third. Catherine Pendrel and Eva Lechner completed the podium for the final race of the season.

With the World Championships rapidly approaching, it’s also worth mentioning Briton Annie Last. Last has been out of action for over a year with a back injury, and Meribel was only her second race back. She battled through from a starting position of 47th to take 13th – an impressive achievement!

1. Jolanda Neff – 1.36.19
2. Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa – 1.36.33
3. Pauline Ferrand Prevot – 1.37.13
4. Catherine Pendrel – 1.38.07
5. Eva Lechner – 1.38.40
For the full results, visit the UCI Results Page.

 

Check out these other articles:

Women in the Bike Biz: Gill Harris, Atherton Racing PR

Interview: 60 Seconds with Manon Carpenter

Is a Clipless MTB Shoe Right for You?

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