XC World Cup Araxá: results & reports

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The second World Cup of the year took place in Brazil. Here are the results, race reports and a highlights video from Araxá.

XC World Cup Araxá: results

Race reports and photos courtesy of Warner Bros. Discovery Sports:

2024 UCI CROSS-COUNTRY OLYMPIC WORLD CUP: BATTEN AND ANDREASSEN TAKE XCO HONOURS IN ARAXÁ

Two adrenaline-pumping elite UCI Cross-country Olympic World Cup (XCO) events rounded out the 2024 WHOOP UCI Mountain Bike World Series double header in Brazil in style this Sunday, as the USA’s Haley Batten (Specialized Factory Racing) and Simon Andreassen (Cannondale Factory Racing) recorded wins in Araxá, in Western Minas Geras State.

Following tight battles in the UCI Cross-country Short Track World Cup (XCC) events on Saturday, the sun shone on the final day of racing action as the XCO races took place in front of a jubilant crowd of local fans, on a dynamic cross-country course that encouraged fast-paced, attacking racing throughout.

The women’s race concluded with a battle royale between XCC winner Batten and last week’s XCO winner, Sweden’s Jenny Rissveds (Team 31 Ibis Cycles Continental), with a huge final lap from Batten being the difference between the two in the end. A dramatic and breathless men’s race saw five men battling all the way to the finish line. An assured performance from Victor Koretzky (Specialized Factory Racing) fell apart as he suffered a mechanical on the final lap.

A chaotic opening to the women’s elite XCO saw the lead change hands several times as numerous riders struggled with issues on the climbs and over the roots section, with the resulting traffic impacted the rest of the field. The race kicked off at a frantic tempo and once the dust settled a trio of riders were able to detach themselves from the rest – the Swiss Alessandra Keller (Thömus maxon) who was also active during the early stages of Saturday’s XCC, Germany’s Linda Indergand (Liv Factory Racing) and winner of the XCC, Batten.

Heading into lap two, the three had been caught by a group of chasers and eight moved clear with a group of six giving chase a short way back. Sweden’s Jenny Rissveds (Team 31 Ibis Cycles Continental), victor in last week’s XCO in Mairiporã, instigated an attack, and the second group were almost able to claw back the deficit, but a lively Keller attacked again, taking Batten and Rissveds with her. The USA’s Savilia Blunk (Decathlon Ford Racing Team), the second-place finisher in Mairiporã, closed in on them, and following her, Liv Factory Racing teammates Indergand and Canadian Jennifer Jackson joined them to swell the lead group to six.

French champion Loana Lecomte (Canyon CLLCTV XCO) was forced to abandon the race after an incident left her in some distress. Meanwhile, the quartet of Keller, Batten, Rissveds and Blunk were able to find space once again and Keller continued to push the pace at the front, riding an aggressive race, but it was Rissveds who was able to briefly find a gap, attacking up the climb at the end of lap 4 to move into the solo lead. An error on the first climb on lap 5 for Rissveds saw her lead evaporate though and the quartet came together once again.

It was a yo-yo effect after that, with Rissveds and Batten opening a gap, and Blunk and Keller clawing their way back. It became a race of strategy, as the riders sized one another up on the penultimate lap, and heading into the final lap it was game on, with any one of the four still in with a chance. It was Batten who hit out first, and once again she and Rissveds pulled clear, a gap that increased when Blunk was forced to dismount on the climb.

It came down to a head-to-head between the two, but Batten attacked once again and this time her gap proved unassailable, Rissveds finally realising the American had the measure of her, as Batten carved out enough of a cushion to be able to enjoy her first elite level XCO win as she rolled across the line. Rissveds came in second, with Blunk third, and Keller and Anne Terpstra (Ghost Factory Racing) of the Netherlands rounding out the podium in fourth and fifth respectively.

Speaking after the race, Batten said: “It’s crazy. I have no words. You train so hard all winter but to put it all together on race day when it’s so tactical like that, I just had no idea what was happening, so to pull it off feels insane. For both Savilia and me this is a huge year, for the Olympic Games, so yeah, a pretty good day.

“That second last lap was weird, it was hard to read, I know Jenny [Rissveds] pulled a good attack on me with one lap to go last weekend, so when I was leading that second last lap, I was like, ‘oh no, she’s going to do it to me again’. I tried to settle in and just wait until it’s time; I tried to read it right, went a little bit early, but luckily I was able to hold out on Jenny’s attack, because that was a big one. I was barely able to hang onto that.

“Honestly thank you so much to my team, the people that make this possible because this really is a team sport and I’m so grateful for that and everybody that puts in the work so that we succeed, so thank you so much.”

ANDREASSEN TRIUMPHS AFTER FINAL LAP DRAMA

It was total carnage on the first lap of the UCI Cross-country Olympic World Cup (XCO) Elite men’s race, and last week’s winner, the USA’s Christopher Blevins (Specialized Factory Racing) came off worst in the chaos, dropping into dead last position in the race. Further up the field, the rest grappled with the climbs and the roots section, with some riders choosing to run or being forced to dismount, and it was the XCC specialists who used their power to take advantage of the frenetic early pace, with UCI World Champion, New Zealand’s Sam Gaze (Alpecin-Deceuninck), German rider Luca Schwarzbauer (Canyon CLLCTV XCO) and Switzerland’s Mathias Flückiger (Thömus Maxon), among those to lead the charge heading into the second lap.

There was a shuffling of positions on lap 2, with France’s Jordan Sarrou (Team BMC) taking control of the pace and Switzerland’s Nino Schurter (Scott-SRAM MTB Racing Team) right on his wheel, exactly 14 years since his first XCO win. There was nothing to separate a sizeable group of riders heading into lap 3 though, with the top 20 separated by only just over 20 seconds.

With his teammate Blevins trying to work his way back through the pack, Chilean champion Martin Vidaurre was next to push on at the front of the race, and he was the first to open a time gap, flying through lap 3 to lead by over ten seconds going into lap 4 with a chase group of six riders. Led by Gaze, they tried to reel him back in, though he made it tough for them, surging clear again with one last burst of energy before he was finally closed down in lap 5.

Gaze and yesterday’s XCC winner, France’s Victor Koretzky (Specialized Factory Racing) took the race on from the front after that, and the lead changed hands on more than one occasion as the leading group grew to ten riders on lap 6, but Dane Simon Andreassen (Cannondale Factory Racing) set a brisk pace at the front which began to stretch out the group. Cannondale took control, exchanging Andreassen for South African Alan Hatherly in the lead, but it didn’t last long, as Koretzky struck out with two attacks on lap 7 to move into the solo lead of the race, and by the time he began the penultimate lap he had a 14 second cushion over a chasing group of four riders: Sarrou, Hatherly, Andreassen and Switzerland’s Filippo Colombo (Scott-SRAM MTB Racing Team).

A small error at the peak of the final climb could have knocked Koretzky, but though he regained his composure and pushed on into the final lap, a dramatic incident saw him suffer a mechanical, forcing him to dismount and fix his chain as the chasers flew past him, spearheaded by Colombo. But despite the setback, Koretzky put in a big effort and was able to rejoin the group heading for the final.

Andreassen launched a decisive attack late on in the lap, but he wasn’t able to distance Colombo or a resurgent Koretzky, and it came down to a hectic sprint for the line, with Andreassen too strong for Koretzky and the rest, recording his debut UCI World Cup victory at elite level XCO. Koretzky finished second, Hatherly third, Colombo fourth and Sarrou in fifth. Koretzky leads the overall standings after two races. Blevins recorded an incredible comeback, returning from last position in the race on lap 1 to finish in 23rd.

After the race, a somewhat shellshocked Andreassen said: “That was nice to win a World Cup again, to be honest I haven’t thought too much about it yet. It been a few years since I won and I will take a moment to soak it in.”

Koretzky said: “I had really good legs today, I tried to go with a few laps to go, and I was good on the last lap but unfortunately I had a mechanical, I dropped my chain almost at the top before the roots section.

“I made a huge effort to close the gap and I was completely empty. I am sad but at the same time I’m happy with my shape, so congrats to Simon, he was strong, he did a huge sprint, it was amazing to be on his wheel in the last straight. I’m very happy and looking forward to the next part of the season. Even if I had a mechanical, I am still here.”

BÖHM UNDEFEATED IN BRAZIL

It was a race of three riders in the women’s U23 UCI Cross-country Olympic World Cup, but in the end, Germany’s Kira Böhm (Cube Factory Racing) remained undefeated, winning four races out of four across the first two rounds of the 2024 WHOOP UCI Mountain Bike World Series in Brazil.

The USA’s Madigan Munro (Trek Factory Racing-Pirelli) was first to strike, her confidence on the course allowing her to open up a gap on lap one, though Böhm was immediately on her case, with Canadian Emilly Johnston (Trek Factory Racing) and Italy’s Valentina Corvi (Santa Cruz Rockshox Pro Team) following her to form a chasing group. They bridged to Munro then all four come together heading into the third lap.

But though Munro impressed in the early stages with her command of the parcours, she faded fast under the increased pace from Böhm, dropping quickly back to fourth position as the German piled on the pressure from the front, and on lap 4 she pushed on leaving Johnston and Corvi behind. They dug in on the fifth lap, but on the final lap, the undefeated Böhm proved her quality and consistency, leaving her rivals behind, to seal the deal on a perfect Brazilian trip.

Böhm: ‘Emily and Valentina made it really tough for me today, I just tried to be the first one to go into the downhills so that I can ride my own pace and to recover a little bit because the climbs are so tough I needed the time in the downhills to recover.

“It’s so crazy, I never thought that I’d start a season like that, and I really can’t wait to race in Europe.”

Like Böhm, the trip to Brazil resulted in a perfect record for the USA’s Riley Amos, as he scored victory in the men’s U23 XCO event a day earlier, to add to his wins in the XCC in both Araxá and Mairiporã, and his XCO win in Mairiporã. Amos won despite an aggressive race from Finn Treudler (Cube Factory Racing), who finished in second place. Brazilian rider Alex Malacarne (Trinity Racing MTB) secured a stunning third place to send the home crowd wild and ensure the second day of the weekend would end in a huge party.

ucimtbworldseries.com

SERIES HEADS BACK TO EUROPE

After a truly memorable opening two rounds, the 2024 WHOOP UCI Mountain Bike World Series heads back to Europe, and next the destination is Fort William in Scotland, UK, where the UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup kicks off, revisiting the venue where the UCI World Championships were decided in 2023.
 
Nové Město na Moravě, Czech Republic plays host to the next UCI Cross-country World Cup, on the weekend of 24-26 May. With over a month of training and a selection of other riders returning to competition in Europe, the UCI World Cup races could have a very different complexion, heading ever closer to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Fort William next!

The beginning of the Downhill stuff. Practice begins Friday, May 3rd. Qualifying and semi-finals on Saturday, May 4th. Finals on Sunday, May 5th.

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Orange Switch 6er. Stif Squatcher. Schwalbe Magic Mary Purple Addix front. Maxxis DHR II 3C MaxxTerra rear. Coil fan. Ebikes are not evil. I have been a writer for nigh on 20 years, a photographer for 25 years and a mountain biker for 30 years. I have written countless magazine and website features and route guides for the UK mountain bike press, most notably for the esteemed and highly regarded Singletrackworld. Although I am a Lancastrian, I freely admit that West Yorkshire is my favourite place to ride. Rarely a week goes by without me riding and exploring the South Pennines.

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Viewing 4 posts - 1 through 4 (of 4 total)
  • XC World Cup Araxá: results & reports
  • nickc
    Full Member

    Does anyone know what happened to Lecomte to make her abandon?

     

    ocrider
    Full Member

    She took a tumble off camera on the 3rd lap. Hopefully it’s nothing serious, but the lack of team social media noise isn’t a good omen.

    That last lap of the men’s race was something else.

    pmurden
    Full Member

    These first two races in Brazil have been blinking awesome imo.

    wipperman95
    Free Member

    Lots of exciting racing, and quite a lot of riders/ teams have hit the season in top form. One wonders how many can hold the form with the Olympics in July.

    Koreztky looks in great form, and is looking good; I can see him going close in the Olympics…….I suspect it depends if Tom is in decent from after the Tour….

Viewing 4 posts - 1 through 4 (of 4 total)

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