Kate Courtney and Mathias Flückiger win in extremely muddy XCO season opener

The USA’s Kate Courtney and Switzerland’s Mathias Flückiger took their respective elite class victories at the first round of the Mercedes-Benz UCI XCO World Cup in Albstadt, Germany.

Kate Courtney finish line Albstadt XCO.jpg
Kate Courtney performs at UCI XCO World Cup in Albstadt, Germany on May 19th, 2019. Credit: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool

 

In the women’s race, reigning overall title holder Jolanda Neff and the defending UCI World Champion Kate Courtney battled it out from the start. An out of character crash from Neff lead to Courtney putting on the pressure and pushing hard at the front.

 

And the American, 23, was left to celebrate her first elite XC World Cup victory and America’s first elite women’s XCO win in 20 years. Neff was second while 2017 overall winner, Yana Belomoina, started from the fourth row of the grid but fought her way back to finish third.

 

Jolanda Neff Albstadt XCO.jpgJolanda Neff performs at UCI XCO World Cup in Albstadt, Germany on May 19th, 2019. Credit: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool
Yana Belomoina Albstadt XCO.jpgYana Belomoina performs at UCI XCO World Cup in Albstadt, Germany on May 19th, 2019. Credit: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool

 

Courtney said: “It means everything, last year at the World Championships was a huge surprise and a sign that I could make it to the top. I am happy to start the season with a strong ride and hopefully I can stay up near the front for the rest of the year. I hope to carry the momentum forward.”

 

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Anne Tauber, Jolanda Neff, Kate Courtney, Yana Belomoina, Anne Terpstra stand on the podium at UCI XCO World Cup in Albstadt, Germany on May 19th, 2019. Credit: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool

 

In the elite men’s race, a torrential downpour filled the tyre tracks with mini rivers as one of the toughest set of conditions the XCO pack had seen in years began to unfold.

 

Reigning champion Nino Schurter attacked early alongside his teammate Lars Forster who eventually had to be carried from the track and has since travelled to hospital for scans on his knee.

 

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Mathias Flueckiger performs at UCI XCO World Cup in Albstadt, Germany on May 19th, 2019. Credit: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool

 

Schurter was reined back in by the pack and it was his compatriot Flückiger who rode himself into first position. Flückiger held on for his second career win in front of cyclo-cross sensation Mathieu van der Poel, who leaves Albstadt with the points leader’s jersey. Jordan Sarou completed the podium.

 

Flückiger said: “I had a bad start and my chain broke after 50 metres. I didn’t go on the limit at the start and I could ride my rhythm. I never had to go over my limit, just always on the edge. It was really crazy! I had a lot of patience, which was probably the key, I am so happy for this win.”

 

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Mathieu Van der Poel performs at UCI XCO World Cup in Albstadt, Germany on May 19th, 2019. Credit: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool

 

The small town in the Swabian Alb had been under the microscope in the weeks leading up to the event with some riders voicing concern about track changes made in the run up to the event.

 

A deluge the night before racing got underway had turned the re-surfaced track into a tricky maze of vastly differing traction levels. Treacherously slick dark mud was being pulled onto the new wooden sections ensuring it was a brutal weekend for all riders involved.

 

Jordan Sarrou XCO Albstadt.jpg
Jordan Sarrou performs at UCI XCO World Cup in Albstadt, Germany on May 29th, 2019. Credit: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool

 

The series moves on to Nove Mesto in the Czech Republic on May 24.

 

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Titouan Carod, Mathieu Van der Poel, Mathias Flueckiger, Jordan Sarrou, Florian Vogel stand on the podium at UCI XCO World Cup in Albstadt, Germany on May 19th, 2019. Credit: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool

 




4 Comments

TheJ, May 20 2019 09:06

When last has Nino not finished in the top 3?

Bos, May 20 2019 09:13

I dig the way Flueckiger races. The guy can hang with a HT where many rides a FS. With the next round around the corner I cant see Nino making a massive comeback so soon which will make for very interesting racing. I also get the Idea Nino prefers warmer weather. No Rain predicted for Nove Mesto but only 16C. Still facinates me that Van is out there racing ICON's.. The official tyre choice of the South African marathon junky, not Slop fest worthey.. and for once, better traction wont be slower. 

MphatiPyga, May 20 2019 04:58

When did Neff crash? I recall the crashes off the sketchy wood work, but not Neff? Plus Cameras followed Neff more than Kate so it would have been played over and over. Great race by both the men’s and the ladies, although the ladies podium was, well pretty?

babse, May 21 2019 09:44

When did Neff crash? I recall the crashes off the sketchy wood work, but not Neff? Plus Cameras followed Neff more than Kate so it would have been played over and over. Great race by both the men’s and the ladies, although the ladies podium was, well pretty?

it was very early on, first or 2nd lap.