2021 Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup: overall titles for Lecomte, Flückiger, Höll & Bruni

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Snowshoe, USA, saw victories for Evie Richards (GBR) and Christopher Blevins (USA) in the Elite cross-country Olympic (XCO) races. The UCI World Cup overall winners for XCO are Loana Lecomte (FRA) and Mathias Flückiger (SUI). Wins in the final race of the downhill (DHI) double-header by Valentina Höll (AUT) and Loïc Bruni (FRA) meant they both leap from third position in their overall standings to become UCI World Cup overall winners in the final moments of a dramatic season.

Women’s XC: peerless Lecomte

In Snowshoe’s cross-country Short Track (XCC) racing, while Jenny Rissveds (SWE) was leading, a chasing Richards accelerated away from Jolanda Neff (SUI) on the final climb to win. By winning the first four races, Loana Lecomte (FRA) already had the overall confirmed and decided not to race in Showshoe as did her countrywoman Pauline Ferrand-Prévot. Rissveds was 2nd overall going into the race.

UCI World Champion Richards took an early lead in the XCO with Rebecca McConnell (AUS), riding away from Rissveds and XCC UCI World Champion Sina Frei (SUI). After the Australian punctured, the British rider never looked back. Richards won by 90sec from McConnell with Anne Tauber (NED) third.

The result left the Women Elite final overall standings as 1st Lecomte (1550 points); 2nd Richards (1310); 3rd Rissveds (1275), 4th McConnell (1215), then Frei (1110).

“I am very happy, and very surprised, I will enjoy this. It is not easy, but yes I did it!” said Lecomte. “My goals will be to race every World Cup and podium in every World Cup!”

Men’s XC: Blevins’ blast, Flückiger overall

In Friday’s XCC – won by Victor Koretzky (FRA) – Flückiger’s 5th place was enough to seal the overall with 1499 points, ahead of Koretzky, and Ondrej Cink (CZE), who was chasing his first UCI World Cup win.

In the XCO race, Henrique Avancini (BRA) led early from UCI Short Track World Champion Blevins, as Flückiger punctured and Koretzky took to the front before also flatting then manualing through the start straight, desperate to defend his 2nd overall.

A lead group emerged, made up of 9-time UCI World Champion Schurter - hunting a 33rd UCI World Cup win to match Julien Absalon -, Vlad Dascalu (ROM), Luca Braidot (ITA), Blevins, Cink and Avancini, who tumbled on the final lap before rejoining then puncturing.

Blevins attacked on the final climb to become the first American man to win an XCO UCI World Cup race since 1994. The Romanian second and the Czech third. Koretzky’s eighth place was enough to hold off Cink’s threat.

Flückiger won the overall with 1573 points from Koretzky (1310), followed by Cink (1309), Schurter (1182) and Frenchman Jordan Sarrou (1085).

“This means absolutely everything. I’d be lying if I said I expected anything close to this or even dreamed it,” said Blevins.

In U23 Women, UCI World Champion Mona Mitterwallner (AUT) completed her perfect season, beating Caroline Bohe (DEN) at Snowshoe and overall. UCI World Champion Martin Vidaurre Kossmann (CHI) took victory in Snowshoe to claim the U23 Men overall with 320 points from Simone Avondetto (ITA)’s 310.

DHI: two rounds to cap off the season

With a DHI double-header in the USA, qualification points were awarded in the first race, but not the second. The standings after Wednesday’s race made a fascinating finale on Sunday.

By winning the first Snowshoe race – her first Elite UCI World Cup victory – 19-year-old Valentina Höll put herself into overall contention. Myriam Nicole (FRA) was still the favourite, knowing that even if Camille Balanche (SUI) won, third place would be enough, or if Höll won, fifth would still clinch the overall. Tahnée Seagrave started the final race with a mathematical chance.

Emilie Siegenthaler (SUI) enjoyed time in the hot seat in her final UCI World Cup race before Seagrave took the top spot. After Höll smashed 5sec off the time, Balanche and a resurgent Marine Cabirou (FRA) came through. It all rested on Nicole’s run… but with her fast pace came mistakes and the Frenchwoman finished 7th. The top three in the last race: Höll, Cabirou, Balanche.

Thibaut Dapréla hit the USA with a clear overall advantage in the Men Elite competition. His DNF in race 1 opened up the overall – then after crashing in practise he missed race 2. Scotland’s Reece Wilson won race 1, and the overall was between three Frenchmen: Dapréla, Loris Vergier and Bruni. With 3:14.010, Spain’s Angel Suarez held the hot seat for a long time! Amaury Pierron (FRA) and home rider Luca Shaw pushed him close, then Troy Brosnan (AUS) went quickest… only for Bruni to claim the win, and take the overall from his absent countryman.

DHI Overall: last gasp deciders

Höll won both Snowshoe races, backing up her 2nd 6th 5th and 3rd laces in her first full Elite campaign, to win overall with 1125 points. Nicole was second with 1079, after winning in Maribor and Lenzerheide and qualifying first or second every race. 2020 UCI World Champion Balanche won in Leogang and hit the top five in every race – ending third with 1065. Les Gets winner Tahnée Seagrave netted 936 points for fourth. With 2nd in Snowshoe Cabirou leapfrogged Monica Hrastnik (SLO) and Eleanora Farina (ITA) for fifth with 691.

Frenchmen occupy the top three Men Elite spots. First is Bruni on 877 points – having finished 11th, 14th, 5th, 2nd, 3rd and finally 1st, saving the best for last. Second is Dapréla on 752, who came second in Leogang (AUT) and Maribor (SLO), won his home race at Les Gets, then didn’t score in the USA. Vergier, winner in Slovenia and Switzerland, is third with 713; Brosnan took fourth overall with 666 points. 2020 UCI World Champion Wilson catapulted himself from 11th to fifth overall, thanks to victory in round 5.

UCI World Champion Izabela Yankova’s victories in the last three races meant the Bulgarian secured the Junior Women overall with 280 points. Phoebe Gale (GBR) and Sophie Gutoehrle (AUT) were 2nd and 3rd overall with 170 and 70 points respectively. Jackson Goldstone (CAN) was 1st or 2nd in every race to win the overall with 300 points, and Britain’s Jordan Williams won both Snowshoe races to ensure 2nd overall with 250 points.