Puck Pieterse beats Ferrand-Prevot to win World Cup debut in Nove Mesto
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Puck Pieterse (Fenix-Deceuninck) powered to the first elite World Cup victory of her young career, riding away from World Champion Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (Ineos) on the final lap to win the elite women's cross country race in Nove Mesto.
Leona Lecomte (Canyon CLLCTV) rounded out the podium in third 11 seconds behind.
“I don’t know what happened. Normally my start is really good, but everyone was going so fast I thought I’d blown up," Pieterse said. "It looked like the others did too though. Pauline and I kept swapping places, then after a few laps Evie had a flat or something. All of a sudden, I was racing at the front and I didn’t know what to do so I just tried to keep calm and it worked out."
Haley Batten (Specialized Factory Racing) and Evie Richards (Trek Factory Racing) hit out on the first lap with the American in the lead at the line with a four-second gap over Richards and Sina Frei (Specialized Factory Racing). On the second lap, the three riders were joined by Martina Berta (Santa Cruz - RockShox Pro Team) and Rebecca Henderson (Primaflor Mondraker Genuins Racing Team).
Richards launched an attack that drew World Champion Ferrand-Prévot out of the chasing field. The French rider fought her way forward along with Pieterse. Richards forged ahead, holding a lead of 15 seconds before Pieterse put in a blistering third lap and joined Ferrand-Prévot.
Disaster struck Richards soon after, with a puncture forcing her into the tech zone and out of the lead.
Ferrand-Prévot and Pieterse led through the fourth lap when the Dutch rider put in her first attack. The World Champion closed it down, then put in a dig of her own on the penultimate lap but could not dislodge the young talent.
Ferrand-Prévot went into the final lap with a six-second lead but Pieterse surged on the climb to shut it down, then attacked on the stair-step descent and rode away to her first World Cup victory.
Behind, Lecomte emerged from the chasing group to claim third, while Richards made a remarkable comeback to finish fourth at 16 seconds.
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