MTB World Cup: Pidcock, Stigger win short track races in Nove Mesto for early series lead
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Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) came from well back in the field to win the opening round on the short track at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Nové Město na Moravě, In the women’s XCC race, Laura Stigger (Specialized Factory Racing) used a powerful surge at the finish to score the victory from a group of five.
Friday’s short track races in the Czech Republic were the first round of the eight-round World Cup series for XCC and XCO events. Nové Město first held a UCI MTB World Cup in 2011 and continues to use a technically demanding course for cross-country events that attract huge crowds, despite the rain which fell on Friday.
Pidcock started in the back of the field in 40th out of 41 positions and used every second to make passes to score the win in a time of 20:17. Samuel Gaze (Alpecin-Deceuninck), the UCI cross-country short track world champion, and Luca Schwarzbauer (Canyon CLLCTV) hit the line one second behind, with the New Zealander Gaze taking second.
In the swarm of riders who blasted over the wet finish on their back wheels, Mathias Flückiger (Thömus Maxon) took fourth just ahead of 2022 XCC overall champion Nino Schurter (Scott-SRAM-MTB Racing) in fifth, and Daniele Braidot (CS Carabinieri-Cicli Olympia Vittoria) in sixth, that trio two seconds back.
On the final lap, Pidcock, who won the XCO race at Nové Město last year, rocketed into second place behind Schwarzbauer, then overtook the German after the final climb. The Briton held the lead for the sprint into the arena for the victory.
"I only found out I was racing at 3 o'clock having already done a three-and-a-half hour training ride this morning,” Pidcock said in his post-race interview. "I always like racing here having been second in the short track before so it's nice to win one finally.
"I wasn’t really stressed at the start as I’d rather start a bit further behind, give ourselves a bit of space. I didn’t want to crash today. I’ve crashed in the short track before and it can ruin the weekend. I just tried to stay out of trouble, and it was all about whoever went into the finish straight first was going to win.”
Meanwhile, on the start line for the women as the rain came down were year’s UCI Short Track World Cup winner Jolanda Neff (Trek Factory Racing XC), the defending overall series champion Alessandra Keller (Thömus Maxon) and reigning World Champion Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (Ineos Grenadiers).
It would be Stigger who would shine under the dark skies and she worked her magic on the final lap to separate herself from four other riders at the front. She had moved in front of Keller on the same final climb as Pidcock, but Keller then passed her as they entered the arena. Stigger was able to make the final pass for the win at the line in a time of 19:02, with Keller just off her wheel one second back.
Keller secured second place by edging a trio of riders at the line, Sina Frei (Specialized Factory Racing) in third, Ferrand-Prevot in fourth, and Evie Richards (Trek Factory Racing XC) in fifth. Neff finished ninth.
Stigger, the Austrian short track champion, maintained her position near the front for the nine laps of the contest and saved something for the final kick.
“It’s so hard to stay on the wheels of the fast ladies,” said Stigger at the end, with mud still covering her face and jersey. “I had to really fight for my position, and during the race, I was thinking, ‘ah, I really have to close the gap, always’. That it’s turned out like this, it’s incredible. What a great kickoff for the weekend.”
Results powered by FirstCycling
Men's short track results
Women's short track results