Last weekend Val di Sole, Italy, saw soaring temperatures, technical tracks and downhill drama as 3 disciplines of mountain biking came together. The 2013 UCI MTB World Cup series is shaping up to be a good one, with the elite women really showing what they are made of.
1. Cross Country Eliminator / XCE – Round 3
The course at Val di Sole is intense, with a punishingly steep climb after the initial sprint, a descent through part of the 4X track, and a final sprint across the grass to the finish line.
Notably absent in this round was Jenny Rissveds of Sweden, winner of round 2 in Nové Mesto. Rissveds missed this round as she was sitting exams.
The riders in the final were grimacing as they gave it their all on the steep uphill, with Alexandra Engen taking the lead from early on. The gaps opened wider in the descent but Kathrin Stirnemann closed in on Engen on the final flat and looked like she might have enough pedal power on the last straight to pull off taking the lead. Engen maintained her position, crossing the line first. Stirnemann was a close second, with Linda Indergand third and Jolanda Neff fourth.
- Alexandra Engen, Sweden
- Kathrin Stirnemann, Switzerland
- Linda Indergad, Switzerland
- Jolanda Neff, Switzerland
- Ingrid Sofie Jacobsen, Norway
2. Cross Country / XCO - Round 3
Val di Sole offers a much more natural and technical circuit than has been seen on the series so far. Steep gravelly climbs, narrow sections through the trees, rock gardens and flat sprints combined with the heat to put the elite women through their paces on the 4.18km track.
Tanja Zakelj, winner of round 2, snatched victory from Katerina Nash on the final lap. After riding close for most of the race, Zakelj pulled ahead on the climb then increased her lead, finally finishing 20 seconds ahead of Nash.
Emily Batty came in 3rd, followed by Adelheid Morath in 4th and cross country legend Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa in 5th.
Missed it? Watch again here courtesy of Red Bull TV
- Tanja Zakelj, Slovenia – 1:36:37
- Katerina Nash, Czech Republic – 1:36:57
- Emily Batty, Canada – 1:37:27
- Adelheid Morath, Germany – 1:38:11
- Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa – 1:38:36
3. Downhill / DH - Round 2
Val di Sole is widely acknowledged to be one of the most difficult courses on the World Cup circuit. Where Fort William was loose, rocky and open, Val di Sol is a full-on 4 minutes of relentless rooty, rocky, steep technical track. This made for an exciting race, as the elite women competed to be fastest down the mountain.
Rachel Atherton killed it in the finals, winning decisively with 5.2 seconds up on Emiline Ragot with a smooth and clean run. Florian Pugin put in a good run on the punishing course to place third. Morgane Charre came in 4th place; quite an achievement after an earlier crash left her with a badly twisted ankle.
Manon Carpenter, with a strong 3rd place in qualifying was looking to build on her 2nd place at Fort William. On the day, she didn't quite make it but came away with a solid 7th place.
Missed it? Watch again courtesy of Red Bull TV
- Rachel Atherton, Great Britain - 3.43.810
- Emmeline Ragot, France – 3.49.045
- Floriane Pugin, France – 3.55.863
- Morgane Charre, France – 3.58.043
- Myriam Nicole, France – 3.59.305
Atherton was understandably rather pleased with her victory. Having downed her celebratory victory champagne, she joined photographer Sven Martin and Steve Jones, deputy editor of Dirt magazine, for a bit of a chat.
Warning; this is not a video for office viewing, young children or those with delicate sensibilities.
Four Cross / 4X
Okay, technically this isn’t part of the UCI MTB World Cup series, having been replaced with the XC Eliminator. However, not only is the discipline alive and kicking, but the 4X Pro-Tour had its own round 3 at Val di Sole, with round 2 held at Fort William, Scotland in early June, and round 1 in Poland in early May.
4X sees 4 riders take to a wide, technical track at the same time, competing to be the fastest down. Line choice through jumps, rock gardens and corners is critical to maintaining speed and a good position on track.
British rider Katy Curd is currently ranked number one and is on killer form. Curd is dominating the field, placing first in all the rounds to date including Val di Sole.
In 2nd place at Val di Sole was Celine Gros, who has also been performing well with 2nd place in round one. Coming up in 3rd place was Helene Fruhwirth, and Lucia Oetjen in 4th.
Visit the 4X Pro-Tour site for more new and info.
Coming up next;
The next round of the UCI MTB World Cup takes place in Valnord, Andorra. Once again, Cross Country Eliminator, Cross Country and Downhill races all occur over the same weekend from the 25th - 28th July. Watch this space for our guide on what to expect and who to watch.