It was Summer conditions for the opening World Cup XC race in Albstadt, Germany: 24 °, sunny, dry track. Forgotten is the cold weather on Friday, when it was snowing in the morning. A nice shock for many athletes, not used to the heat.
We talked about it this week: what can Thomas Pidckock do starting in position number 100? Well, after 2 laps the Brit was in the leading group, thus avoiding the jams that forced many riders to get off the saddle!
Another surprise: after a first lap at a frenzied pace the mega-favorite MVDP explodes and loses positions, losing almost 30 seconds at the beginning of the third lap, exactly when Pidcock took the lead.
In the third lap Schurter took the lead, immediately after breaking from Flückiger, more motivated than ever to repeat the successes of the spring races.
In the fourth lap MVDP seems to have recovered: open shirt, he starts to go out of the saddle again hitting hard on the pedals. Pidckock, on the other hand, seems to pay the price for the mega comeback, and is a few seconds behind the leading group made up of Flückiger, Schurter and Koretzky.
Last lap: MVDP at the wheel of Pidcock. An unprecedented image for the XC.
Right on the last lap Flückiger has a bike failure (dropper post that doesn’t come back up), so the victory is played between Schurter and Koretzky. The Swiss flies downhill, but the Frenchman reaches him and flies towards the first place.
Pidcock finishes fifth, MVDP seventh.
First of the Italians is Kerschbaumer, 14th. Italy risks losing a place in the Olympics to the French. Everything is decided with the next race in Nove Mesto.
French racer Lecomte flies away on the first lap and gains seconds on her compatriot Ferrand-Prevot, lap after lap, until she finishes the race with a 53-second advantage. Third was the American Battey ahead of Courtney. Eva Lechner in eleventh.
A follow up to come in a week in Nove Mesto…