As if the drama of Round 5 of the UCI MTB World Cup last week in Mont Sainte Anne hadn't been enough, just one week later and the pro women have clearly upped their game once more. In both Downhill and Cross Country the racing was tense, close, and thrillingly exciting.
Windham in New York, USA, provided challengingly hot conditions for both races, with tracks taking in open sections mingled with plenty of forested track.
UCI MTB DH World Cup Round 6
This year has got to be one of the most exciting seasons for women's downhill racing in a long time. Each round has been seen the times get closer and closer, and the standard and quality of riding is phenomenal. Round 6, on the rocky, rooty and short but technical track at Windham is a case in point.
A complete contrast to the track at Mont Sainte Anne, the course at Windham was dry and dusty, short, but with some gnarly rock sections that have caught out many of the riders on previous occasions.
British rider Fionn Griffiths set the first sub-3 minute time, and although she was subsequently knocked from the top spot it was fast enough to keep her in the top 10. Katy Curd, who has seen her return to Downhill this year affected by mechanical issues and crashes, also put in a good run and took 8th.
Tahnee Seagrave, who is having a stonkingly great first season as an elite rider, was the first to drop the time below 2:50, despite having to restart her run. Canadian rider Micayla Gatto, on course before her, crashed hard though thankfully is reported to be upright and walking. We wish her a swift recovery.
Manon Carpenter, who won her first World Cup at the start of the season and is leading the series overall, struggled with the course and although she put in a quicker time than Seagrave, it wasn't enough to take the win.
Tracy Hannah had an amazing run, knocking 1.5 seconds off Carpenter's time which is a significant amount on such a short course. Emmeline Ragot, of Team Lapierre International, was quicker still, almost breaking the 2:40 barrier and taking the top spot ahead of World Champion Rachel Atherton. Although qualifying fastest, Atherton's run didn't go as hoped and with 3 seconds back on Ragot, she placed 2nd.
1. Emmeline Ragot (Team Lapierre International) - 2:40:14
2. Rachel Atherton (GT Factory Racing) - 2:43:03
3. Manon Carpenter (Madison Saracen) - 2:47:09
4. Tracy Hannah (Hutchinson UR Team) - 2:48:87
5. Tahnee Seagrave (FMD Racing) - 2:49:60
With only one race to go, there is still everything to play for. Barely 120 points seperate Manon Carpenter, who still leads the overall series, and Rachel Atherton, who is currently sitting in third behind Emmeline Ragot. That's close enough for everything to change at the next and final round in Meribel, France, in 2 weeks time.
UCI MTB World Cup XCE - Cross Country Eliminator - Round 5
A short but intense course for a short but intense mountain bike racing discipline, the Cross Country Eliminator kicked off the racing action over the weekend in Windham. Although only added to the race schedule for the 2014 season, it's not proved as popular as anticipated and will be removed for 2015, which makes this one of the last ever UCI XCE races.
Jenny Risvends and Kathrin Stirnemann, both accomplished cross country racers, battled it out for the lead over the majority of the race rounds, with Risvends taking the victory overall. Canadian Cindy Montambault and American Chloe Woodruff took 3rd and 4th respectively. Winning the small final and therefore placing fifth was Lisa Mitterbauer.
Stirnemann took enough points with her 2nd place position to clinch the overall series title, with Risvends tied with Alexandre Engen, absent for this round, for 2nd place. The decision will be made in Meribel, for the final round in 2 weeks time.
UCI MTB World Cup XCO - Cross Country - Round 6
The final race of the weekend at Windham was the Olympic Cross Country event. The track here was again a contrast to the undulating terrain of the previous week in Mont Sainte Anne. Here, racers had to face the brutal simplicity of a long steep climb, followed by a long technical descent. It was enough to separate out the field quickly over the course, with several mechanical issues further affecting the riders.
Catherine Pendrel took and maintained an early lead, ahead of Jolanda Neff who took the win at Mont Sainte Anne last week. Neff appeared to be suffering on the climbs in the intense heat, dropping back to 7th at one point in the race.
Chasing but not catching Pendrel were Tanja Zakelj and Annika Langvad, vying for 2nd position throughout the race. Langvad crashed one one section, but quickly got back on the bike to continue racing. However, she was overtaken on the final descent by Zakelj who put some serious power down to take 2nd place.
Neff rode hard with Blaza Klemencic and teammate Maja Wloszczowska to attempt to regain a place on the podium, and fought her way back up to fourth, behind Kelencic. This was enough to give her the overall series victory.
1. Catharine Pendrel
2. Tanja Zakelj
3. Annika Langvad
4. Jolanda Neff
5. Maja Wloszczowska
Like this? You'll love these!