UCI MTB World Championships
What a weekend for Endura’s downhillers in Switzerland. The sensational Rachel Atherton notched up yet another global title with an emphatic performance at the UCI MTB World Championships in Lenzerheide yesterday to claim her fifth elite rainbow jersey (with another earned in the junior ranks). Kade Edwards pulled out an amazing performance to win the Junior crown in his final race in the category. Also in the medals for Trek Factory Racing DH was Mille Johnset with a bronze in the Junior Women’s race.
Conditions for finals day were pretty much perfect and the notoriously tricky straightLine course, packed with big drops, huge roots, tree stumps and rock gardens dried out during racing as a huge and noisy crowd enjoyed the early autumn sunshine.
Mille Johnset, riding for Norway, was first out for Trek Factory Racing DH and started off strongly but a crash high up on the course cost her valuable tim and the Norwegian youngster had to settle for third place saying afterwards “I had a good start and after my crash was a really good run too so yeah I’m happy to be on the podium but sad at the same time!͟”
After a frustrating World Cup campaign, Kade Edwards came into this race with a point to prove and quickly set about his business in Friday’s qualification where he clocked the fastest time. With the benefit of starting last, Kade pulled out a brilliant performance on Sunday to take the win by 4.4 seconds to add a World title to the British one won earlier this year. A graduate of the Atherton Academy, Kade has been nurtured in the team’s winning environment since he joined as a 14 year old back in 2014 and his rainbow jersey is just reward for the faith that the team hav had in his undoubted talents.
After last year’s injury hit season, Rachel Atherton has shown all year that she is once again the dominant force in women’s downhil. A record breaking World Cup season saw Rachel come into Lenzerheide as a firm favourite and posting the quickest time in qualification reflected her unbelievably good form.
Starting last, Rachel was on it from the very first pedal stroke, carrying vast amounts of speed through each section and lighting up each time split in green. Three seconds up by split one and another three added by split two. When split three was passed with an advantage of nearly nine second, it was clear that she was on a sensational run. In full attack mode, Rachel took on the huge drop into the arena to win by very nearly 10 seconds, a vast margin at this level.
I’m stoked!! This was the Worlds run so I knew that I had to throw everything at it, I knew it would have to be special, all the way down I thought I was going to crash. Tahnee [Seagrave] and PomPon [Myriam Nicole] have been pushing me so hard all season, I was watching them all weekend thinking ”I’m going to have to push on”. I’m buzzing!
After a triple whammy of mountain finishes over the weekend, Movistar Team’s Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana go into La Vuelta’s final rest day sitting poised in second and third spots on GC, with six more stages to come. Both hover around 30 seconds back from race leader Adam Yates (Mitchelton - Scott) with Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Pro Team) the only other rider currently in close contention, a handful of seconds further back.
The evergreen Valverde retains the green jersey in the points classification after a strong string of performances on the brutal climbs that have peppered the stages in España Verde. On Sunday’s Queen stage, Bala was again in the thick of the action in the finale, fighting back to the group of favourites time and time again to retain second spot on GC
An intriguing final week beckons with all to play for and Movistar Team holding two aces.
It was another tremendously difficult day. I finished again with the top contenders, happily I’m still there. Astana set a really fast pace from way before the foot of the climb, and made things really difficult for the rest. Miguel Ángel launched a strong attack from near the bottom of the ascent and added some extra pain – which I sort of enjoyed, despite the pressure. It was a beautiful day, all things considered
Giro della Toscana
Cervélo Bigla’s new signing Sophie Wright marked her stage race debut for the team with an impressive sixth place to round-out the three day event in Italy. Lotta Lepistö had got the race off to a perfect start for the small team with the big heart, winning Friday’s prologue with teammate Emma Norsgaard Jørgensen in second and Clara Koppenburg fifth in Campi Bisenzio. With riders in form, the World Championship TTT is next up with the podium a distinct possibility given Cervélo Bigla’s strength in this discipline.
Tour of Britain
Often a key part of Movistar Team’s engine room, German powerhouse Jasha Sütterlin took his opportunity to shine on the roads of Great Britain to finish in sixth overall, his best stage race result as a pro. The “Bull of Freiburg” ensured his position in the top ten with a solid performance in Sunday’s circuit race in central London.
Lotto Belgium Tour
French champion Aude Biannic was Movistar Team Women’s top finisher over the cobbles and bergs of the Lotto Belgium Tour, capping her performance with runner-up spot in the fourth and final stage in Geraardsbergen. The bonus seconds on offer left Aude just nine seconds short of taking her third victory in 2018 -just three days after her success at the prologue in Nieuwpoort.
Photos: Sven Martin / Marcus Enno / Sean Hardy