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Nino Schurter and Jolanda Neff win XCO overall title. Schurter and Annika Langvad victorious in Val di Sole-XCO.

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Nino Schurter and Jolanda Neff win XCO overall title. Schurter and Annika Langvad victorious in Val di Sole-XCO.
Nino Schurter and Jolanda Neff make it a Swiss double by both winning the XCO overall title. While Schurter also takes the win in the men’s race, Neff has to bow to Annika Langvad, who celebrates her first MTB career victory in Val di Sole.
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As the start lap of the women’s race came to a close, it looked like the final round of the women’s cross-country race in Val di Sole, Italy, would follow an all too familiar pattern with Jolanda Neff moving into a commanding first place, 12 seconds up on the rest of the field.

Catharine Pendrel and Annika Langvad were the chasing duo and determined not to let Neff get too much of an advantage. The two worked together to try and close the gap.

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However, the duo weren’t riding together for long as Langvad used her strong climbing abilities to drop Pendrel, before quickly finding herself on Neff’s rear tyre.

As the pair approached the descents, Neff would fly ahead. At some points in the race she gained almost 17 seconds on the descents, boosting the jumps in the fourcross section and confidently taking on the slippery, fast and technical downhills.

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With 4 laps to go, Langvad, the marathon specialist began to take the lead on the climbs, only for that advantage to be closed by Neff on the descents. This cat and mouse chase continued until the final few laps, when a struggling Neff just couldn’t keep up with Langvad’s incredible climbing pace.

While this battle was going on, Gunn-Rita Dahle unexpectedly pulled out of the race after her handlebars gave way and snapped. The Norweigan rider was second in the World Cup standings and her withdrawal from the race meant that Neff was guaranteed the overall title.

Langvad kept applying the pressure on Neff during the climbs and by the time the final lap came around she’d managed to create a 19 second lead. Looking strong and composed, the Specialized rider kept up her relentless pace, while Neff tried to keep up.

The knowledge that Neff was behind her almost got too much as the Specialized rider slid out and crashed on a slippery descent. However, a quick recovery and an equally sketchy moment on the downhill by Neff meant that Langvad’s lead wasn’t lost.

With victory in sight, 31yr-old Annika Langvad rode into the finish area with a look of utter disbelief on her face to take her first ever World Cup win.

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The last 17 World Cup races of the men have been won by one of three riders, Nino Schurter, Julien Absalon or Jarolsav Kulhavý with Nino and Julien being the standout performers.

Having lost out to Schurter in the previous two rounds in Canada and the U.S. respectively, the most successful mountain bike rider of all-time, Julien Absalon was not about to sit down and let the Swiss speedster make it a hat-trick of World Cup wins here in Val di Sole.

Perhaps one of the most familiar sights in World Cup Cross-Country mountain biking has been that of Absalon and Schurter fighting it out at the front of the pack, and today was no different.

In an attempt to shut down Schurter’s winning streak, Absalon made attack after attack on the climbs, only to be reeled back in by the Scott-Odlo rider. Absalon’s ability to descend at speed was not helped by a loss of air in his front tyre on the opening lap, but he didn’t let that stop him from pushing Schurter to the absolute limit.

It wasn’t to be enough however and having drafted Absalon for much of the race, Schurter made his move on the final lap, pulling out a gap on his nemesis and cruising home to victory on the last descent to take the fourth World Cup overall title of his career.

Having now won three from three World Cups together with the overall title, Nino will be looking to the World Championships in Vallnord to complete a perfect season. Absalon will be looking to Vallnord to exact his revenge.

 

In the men’s race, all the familiar figures showed up at the front to battle for the win in the last race oft he world cup season: Jaroslav Kulhavy seemed to have found his old strenght and set the pace in the early laps. He was closely followed by Nino Schurter and Florian Vogel. Julien Absalon had a slower start and first had to fight his way to the front to join the leading trio.

source: Red Bull Content Pool

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