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The home favourite and the European Champ wrap up wins at the Mont Sainte-Anne round of the XCO UCI World Cup.
Canada’s Catharine Pendrel and France’s Julien Absalon each took what could prove to be very important wins at the penultimate round of the 2016 UCI World Cup in Mont Sainte-Anne Canada.
In the elite women’s race, Catharine Pendrel knew that if she was to mature a consistent season into a genuine title challenge then nothing less than a win would suffice. The overall leader and reigning World Champion, Dane Annika Langvad, acknowledged after the race that this isn’t a track that truly suits her but she’ll still regret the points dropped to the spectacular Pendrel. The Squamish native was in no mood to hang around and from as early as the opening climbs, set about establishing a hefty gap out front. It was up to as much as nearly 30 seconds by the midway point of the first lap.
And that really was the story of the race; cool, calm and devastatingly fast, Pendrel managed her lead with aplomb and ticked off the laps accordingly. Langvad sank to fourth after being passed in the late stages by a strong-finishing Emily Batty whilst Norwegian veteran Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa took an impressive second place.
In the men’s race you would have had to go back several seasons to be able to find a winner other than the big three of Absalon, Schurter and Kulhavy. The latter pairing were absent in Canada preparing for Rio so the door was open for some of the sport’s many young pretenders to take on the top step. The initial pace was predictably fast but the wily Absalon sat at the back of a group of five young guns and watched them duke it out. Swiss Mathias Fluckiger seemed determined to lead from the front but he eventually slipped back as French phenom, Victor Koretzky, still only 21 years old, broke off the front in a bid to seal what would have been a remarkable victory. But when it comes to race guile, they don’t come much smarter than a rider who has won over 30 UCI World Cups. Absalon reeled him in and kept going in the second half of the race.
Victory secured, on the final straight he sat up to take the applause of the French Canadian crowd and, remarkably given the extent of Nino Schurter’s dominance at times this season, take the overall points lead. Koretzky took a superb second whilst Fluckiger fought out a gutsy third.
The stage is now perfectly set for a post-Rio showdown between the pair when the UCI World Cup reaches its conclusion in Andorra on September 3-4.
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