The Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Chronicle
– What happened? –
After a one-month break, the 2018 Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup resumed in Val di Sole, Italy, for round 4 of both the downhill and cross-country series; the first event of the season bringing the two disciplines together.
Racing opened on Friday with the new cross-country short track (XCC), the third event in this new series of 25-minute short course races for the top-40 Elite Women and Men. Annika Langvad (Specialized) continues to dominate the women's competition, taking her third straight victory, while Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) took his second win for the men.
On Saturday, it was the turn of the gravity racers, which saw some familiar faces on the podium, with Tahnée Seagrave (Transition Bikes/MUC-Off) taking her second victory of the season in the Elite Women's category ahead of Rachel Atherton (Trek Factory), and Amaury Pierron (Commencal/Vallnord) his third straight win in the men's, ahead of Laurie Greenland (MS Mondraker).
The women's race was missing UCI World Cup leader Myriam Nicole (Commencal/Vallnord), who was injured in a training crash, enabling Atherton to move into the lead, followed by Seagrave, with Nicole dropping to third. On the men's side, Pierron's third win consolidated his lead in the overall standings, while Greenland jumped from fifth to second, and Troy Brosnan (Canyon Factory) dropped to third.
The cross-country Olympic (XCO) on Sunday saw some of the most exciting racing of the season. UCI World Cup leader Langvad was eliminated from the women's race with a wrist injury after a massive crash in the first 200 metres of the race, opening the door for a new series leader by the end of the day. After a battle among the top five contenders for much of the race, Maja Wloszczowska (Kross Racing) took her first UCI World Cup win since 2012, and the fourth of her career, finishing just nine seconds in front of Emily Batty (Trek Factory). UCI World Champion Jolanda Neff (Kross Racing) was third, and moves into the overall series lead, 52 points in front of Langvad, with Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (Canyon Factory) remaining in third.
In the men's race, UCI World Champion and UCI World Cup leader Nino Schurter (Scott-SRAM) recorded his third victory of the season to extend his lead in the overall standings. Schurter attacked early, but local favourite and Italian Champion Gerhard Kerschbaumer (Torpado Gabogas), fought his way back to Schurter for the last two laps, and it took an attack on the final descent for Schurter to guarantee the win, and his 29th career UCI World Cup victory. He is now only four behind the record of France's Julien Absalon. Kerschbaumer took second followed by Van der Poel and Henrique Avancini (Cannondale Factory), who became the first Brazilian rider to make it onto a UCI World Cup podium. Van der Poel moved into second in the standings with his XCC win, followed by Maxime Marotte (Cannondale Factory) in third.
– What's next? –
Vallnord, AND, XCO World Cup #5 / DHI World Cup #5 > July 13-15
– Photo of the week –
– Focus on Henrique Avancini –
Henrique Avancini (Cannondale Factory) made history at round 4 of the Elite Men's XCO in the 2018 Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, when he finished fourth, becoming the first Brazilian rider to make it onto a UCI World Cup podium. He has steadily made his way through the Elite Men's ranks, representing Brazil at his home Olympics in 2016, as well as winning three stages of the Absa Cape Epic stage race over 2016 and 2017. The 29-year-old finished fourth at the 2017 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships, and has two other top-10 finishes in the UCI World Cup this year - eighth in round 1 and sixth in round 3.