It feels like we have been in the off season for a long time now but finally the MTB World Cup kicked off this weekend at Cascades MTB park, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa! This weekend the Downhill was run on the Saturday and the Cross Country (XCO) on Sunday.
UCI MTB DH World Cup – Round 1
The DH track in Pietermaritzburg is known for its long sprint sections and massive jumps rather than being a very technical steep track. This was changed somewhat by the course designers this year with the inclusion of some massive rock gardens designed to catch out any rider thinking they would bring a trail bike rather than a full on DH rig to maximise pedalling ability!
With last year’s overall title winner GT’s Rachel Atherton looking set to miss out this round of the World Cup with a bacterial infection, this weekend was going to be an interesting one! Rachel battled on though, with much less practice time due to her illness to go second fastest in qualifying. It looked like this was to be Manon Carpenter’s weekend – the young welsh rider went fastest in qualifying by a massive 9 seconds.
Race day saw Carpenter going down the mountain last taking the win from Atherton by nearly 4 seconds. US Norco rider Jill Kintner came in 3rd, her BMX background standing her in good stead on this track. French rider Emmeline Ragot managed to pull the fastest split time after Kintner’s run but an unfortunate flat tyre caused her to finish in 5th with Commencal rider Myriam Nicole in 4th place.
1. Manon Carpenter – Madison Saracen (GBR) – 4:34.923
2. Rachel Atherton – GT (GBR) – 4:38.831
3. Jill Kintner – Norco (USA) – 4:44.041
UCI MTB XCO World Cup – Round 1
The world’s best XC riders battled it out in hot, dry and dusty conditions over six laps of a 5.7km course. This course had everything – steep climbs, lots of technical sections and many a rock garden that most of us wouldn’t commit to on an all mountain bike with 5 inches of travel let alone a short travel carbon XC bike!
Two times world champion Under 23 Swiss rider Jolanda Neff (Liv Pro XC) chose to ride in elite this year and took her first Elite World Cup win, with an a early lead and dominating the race thereafter. Even though Neff had a fall in the rock garden resulting in time taken to straighten her saddle she still took the win by 25 seconds ahead of Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa in 2nd and a minute ahead of her Liv Pro XC teammate Maja Wloszczowska. The 2013 World Champ Julie Bresset finished down in 8th place stating she suffered with the heat.
Also worth a mention was the only British rider in the elite women’s field, none other than Tracy Moseley! Tracey, the reigning Enduro World Champion, coming in 29th showing there really is nothing this lady can’t race.
Full results: UCI Website
Watch again: UCI XCO World Cup Round 1 Elite Women on Red Bull TV
1. Jolanda Neff (SUI)
2. Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (NOR)
3. Maja Wloszczwska (POL)
For the full results, check out gallery at the end of this article.