XCE Men & Women
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup: Stirnemann & Mels crowned Eliminator World Cup Champions for 2014
The final round of the Eliminator series in the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup presented by Shimano saw some of the most exciting racing of the season in Méribel, France. Linda Indergand (Struby-Bixs) took the first World Cup win of her career in the women’s race, ahead of World Cup overall winner Kathrin Stirnemann (Sabine Spitz Haibike), while Fabrice Mels (Salcano Alanya) took the men’s win to lock up the overall title.
Stirnemann had already mathematically won the women’s title going into the final round of the World Cup, but there were still other podium positions to fight for, plus the honour of winning what will be the final Eliminator World Cup, since the event has been dropped from the World Cup series after this year.
Indergand, the fastest qualifier, and Stirnemann, the second fastest, were joined in the women’s Final by the other top qualifiers – Jenny Rissveds (Scott-Odlo) and Ingrid Boe Jacobsen (Sepura XC Superior). As she did through every heat, Indergand rocketed off the front in the women’s Final to easily win. Stirnemann took second after an early battle with Rissveds, before the Swedish champion suffered a mechanical, dropping her to fourth.
“It’s unbelievable,” stated Indergand after her win. “I knew the course and it was very technical, which is good for me. The crowd was awesome and it is incredible to have my first win.”
Stirnemann takes the 2014 World Cup title with 265 points from two wins, three seconds and a fourth place – never missing a Final all season. Rissveds finishes second overall with 185 points and one win, while World Champion Alexandra Engen (Ghost Factory) ends up third with 160 points and two wins, despite missing the second half of the series due to illness.
“For me, tonight was just about enjoying the jersey, enjoying the overall win,” said Stirnemann. “Taking second place with a double victory for Switzerland [behind Indergand] was just amazing. I’m so happy. Now I hope for a good battle at the World Championships.”
The men’s series was much tighter than the women’s going into Méribel, with four riders still able to upset Mels – World Champion Paul van der Ploeg of Australia, defending World Cup champion Daniel Federspiel (Otztal Scott), Round 5 winner Andres Soto (MMR Bikes) and German rider Simon Gegenheimer, the winner of Round 4.
Van der Ploeg was the first to drop out of contention for the title after failing to make it through the quarterfinal round, then Federspiel, who didn’t make it into the Final. However, Gegenheimer could still take the title if he won the Final and Mels finished fourth. The two contenders were joined in the final by local favourite and fastest qualifier Kevin Miquel of France and Round 5 winner Andres Soto.
The Final started poorly for Mels and an upset looked possible, as Miquel got the holeshot into the first corner with Gegenheimer on his wheel while Mels was fourth. But the Belgian champion and World Cup leader gradually worked his way to third, then second and finally the lead to outsprint Gegenheimer at the line for the title.
“It was a difficult night,” commented Mels. “The first heats did not go like I wanted because I did not have good starts and had to sprint at each finish. Only in the Final was I the strongest. I’m so happy that I could take a victory here and the World Cup overall. I knew I had to go flat out all night because Gegenheimer, van der Ploeg, Federspiel and Soto were all so close [in points] that I had to push it all night. It’s such a relief that it worked out for me.”
Mels wins the title with 217 points and two wins, with Gegenheimer jumping from fourth to second in the standings at 164. Federspiel and van der Ploeg are next, tied at 150 points, but Federspiel gets the nod for third place after winning the small final in Méribel to finish fifth, while van der Ploeg ended up ninth on the night.
DHI Men & Women
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup: Downhill World Cup crowns two new Champions – Rachel Atherton (GBR) and Sam Hill (AUS) end season with win
The 2014 Downhill series of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup presented by Shimano saw two young riders complete what was a breakthrough season for each of them as they were crowned World Cup Champions in Méribel, France. Manon Carpenter (Saracen Madison) and Josh Bryceland (Santa Cruz Syndicate) took the women’s and men’s overall titles after a season that also saw them claim their first individual World Cup victories. World Champion Rachel Atherton (GT Factory) and Sam Hill (Chainreactioncycles.com/Nukeproof) took the seventh round wins.
2014 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup concludes with wins for Neff & Schurter – Neff and Absalon take overall titles.
The 2014 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup presented by Shimano concluded on Sunday with the seventh and final round of the cross-country series in Méribel, France. There were no surprises in the overall titles, since Jolanda Neff (Liv Pro XC) had won the Women’s title prior to the final round and Julien Absalon (BMC) had done close to the same for the Men. However, any World Cup victory is important, and Neff took her third win of the season while World Champion Nino Schurter (Scott-Odlo) took his fourth.
In Méribel the riders were faced with both steep climbs at altitude and technically difficult descents, demanding both skill and fitness to do well.
Neff ended her World Cup season the way she began it, with a start to finish ride at the front of the race. By the end of the first lap in the six lap race Neff had 28 seconds on Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Multivan Merida) and Pauline Ferrand Prévot (Liv Pro XC), with Maja Wloszczowska (Liv Pro XC) and Catharine Pendrel (Luna) a further five seconds in arrears.
By the third lap Pendrel, the winner of the previous round and second in the overall standings, had moved up to join Dahle Flesjaa and Ferrand Prévot in the chase. Pendrel dropped off the pace to eventually finish fourth, while Dahle Flesjaa chased alone after Ferrand Prévot crashed in a rock section and had to briefly stop in the tech zone for assistance. Dahle Flesjaa’s gap shrank to 14 seconds by the halfway mark, but that was as close as the Norwegian would get before it stretched out again to 48 seconds at the start of the last lap. Ferrand Prévot dropped Pendrel to take third.
“I went from the beginning and rode the whole race at my own pace,” explained Neff. “It is a very nice course, quite technical in the descents and I enjoyed it a lot. The start was especially important here because we didn’t have a long start loop and then it went into singletrack, so it was even more important to have a good start then in other races. It was great to win today, even though I didn’t need to for the overall. I’m very happy to win the overall trophy.”
Neff wins the overall title with 1300 points and three wins for the season; the youngest ever World Cup title winner since she is actually an Under-23 aged rider. Pendrel, despite missing the first two rounds due to an early season injury, finishes second with 940 points and Tanja Zakelj (Unior Tools), the defending champion, is third with 856, just ahead of Emily Batty (Trek Factory Racing) at 830 points.
The Men’s World Cup has been dominated by two riders all season – Absalon and Schurter, each with three wins apiece. Absalon was virtually assured the overall title, since Schurter had missed the second round, but it would not affect his desire to win the final round before his compatriots.
Schurter is always a fast starter, and had a 20 second lead by the end of the first lap on a chase group initially containing Absalon, Mathias Fluckiger (Stockli), Lukas Fluckiger (BMC), Emil Lindgren (Giant Pro XC), Dan McConnell (Trek Factory Racing) and Manuel Fumic (Cannondale Factory).
While Absalon was driving the chase on the climbs, with only Fumic able to match him, Schurter was clearly faster on the descents, maintaining a 30 gap at the start of each lap after final long descent. On the final lap, Absalon finally managed to drop Fumic on the climb to solo in 13 seconds behind Schurter, as he took the 14th World Cup win of his career.
“It’s an awesome feeling to win my third [World Cup] in a row, I feel super lucky,” said Schurter. “I felt pretty confident on this tricky track. It was a really technical downhill and I chose the full suspension bike, which I think was the right decision, since I think I gained a lot of time on the downhill. I’m really looking forward to the Worlds next, I want to defend my title there.”
Absalon wins the World Cup title, the sixth of his career but first since 2009, with 1490 points, followed by Schurter at 1330. McConnell finishes third with 970 points, while Fumic jumps from fifth to fourth with 856 points after finishing third in the final round.
“I’m really happy to win the title,” said Absalon. “I have had it five times, but the last time was a long time ago , so I’m happy to have such a good season. It was really good to have the final here in France with lots of spectators and the ambience all around the track. It was difficult to fight and still do a safe race. For sure it is more pressure for me to race in France; it would be easy for me to do a top-30 to win the [overall] trophy, but in France, for me, it would not be possible to ride in 30th position. For the public I have to fight to be in front. I didn’t want to flat, I didn’t want to crash or have any technical problem, so I lost lots of time in the downhill. It was a little bit like Windham [Round 6], where Nino was also fast in the downhill.”
Categories: Mountain Bike Racing