The UCI Mountain Bike Eliminator World Cup powered by citymountainbike.com came to an exciting climax. The final round – of six – was held in Graz, Austria, on 20 September, the second part of a double-header following the meeting just five days earlier in Winterberg, Germany.
There was more intense racing in the punishing Eliminator format as the season drew to a close.
Here’s how the races and the season were decided...
Two top-ranked women sprint it out
In Graz, Swedish rider Ella Holmegård took her second victory of the year – after round 4 in Valkenswaard, the Netherlands, in August –, outsprinting the series-leading young Italian Gaia Tormena into second place in the final round. It was a great win, even though UCI World Champion Tormena was already assured of the overall victory, having won round 2 in Villard-de-Lans (France) in May, round 3 in Volterra (Italy) in June, and sealing the deal with another first place in round 5 in Winterberg (Germany) five days earlier.
Beyond consolidating second place overall, a repeat of 2018 when Holmegård finished behind Norwegian Ingrid Bøe Jacobsen, it was a matter of pride for the Swede to power home to the line in Austria and end the year on a high. Teenager Tormena has been an irrepressible force throughout the year and shows no signs of slowing down!
Irina Popova took third place in Graz, more solid racing from the Ukranian as we have seen all season, netting fourth in the overall ranking, one place short of her 2018 placing. Another rider who put in strong performances throughout the campaign was Germany’s Clara Brehm and that was true again in both Winterberg and Graz, with sixth- and fourth-place finishes, contributing to her fifth overall.
Germany’s Marion Fromberger (winner of round 1 in Barcelona, Spain, in March) was ready to pounce in Austria, with a second overall still on the cards: but her fifth place, along with Holmegård’s win meant that she finally took third place in the overall rankings.
UCI 2019 Mountain Bike Eliminator World Cup Overall winner Gaia Tormena said:
“My first season in the World Cup is over and I come back home with fantastic memories. During the race we are all opponents but soon after we form a nice group. I learned a lot both as an athlete and as a person. I really want to thank you for this incredible season. Without all of you would not have been so beautiful and unforgettable ❤”
A French one-two in the men’s competition
After victory for the 2017 UCI MTB Eliminator World Champion and 2014 UCI World Cup overall winner Fabrice Mels in Winterberg, the top three in Graz were the riders who had followed in the five-time Belgian Champion’s wake five days earlier: the French duo of Hugo Briatta and Titouan Perrin-Ganier, and The Netherlands’ Jeroen van Eck. And it is these three men who occupy the top three stops in this year’s overall UCI World Cup ranking.
Briatta took his third victory of the year in Graz, following his brilliant home win at Villard-de-Lans (France, round 2) which he backed up with victory in the next round in Volterra, Italy. He led the UCI World Cup overall going into the final round from his closest rival and more experienced countryman, Titouan Perrin-Ganier. While the 23-year-old didn’t need the win in Graz to secure the Eliminator overall title, he knew that attack was the best form of defence. With one lap to go he accelerated and pulled away from Perrin-Ganier and Dutch Champion van Eck.
Perrin-Ganier, the triple consecutive and reigning UCI Mountain Bike Eliminator World Champion, and five-time French Champion, was on the podium at every race in this six-round series, yet never on the top step, and settles for second overall.
Van Eck, the 2018 UCI World Cup overall winner and reigning Dutch Champion – winner in the opening round in Barcelona – took third in Graz and retained that position overall, which could have been overhauled by Simon Gegenheimer, had he found the same scintillating form that produced his win in Valkenswaard. But the German’s eighth place in Graz nullified the threat. Consistent finisher Anton Olstam (SWE) took fourth in Austria, consolidating seventh overall.
UCI 2019 Mountain Bike Eliminator World Cup Overall winner Hugo Briatta said:
“If at the beginning I hadn't really planned to aim for the overall, we had to review the objectives after the Villard round where I took the leader's jersey. It has been a long way to get to this point, and it is true that it has added extra pressure, especially in the last few weeks after my injury in Valkenswaard. But I didn't give up until the end despite the fatigue and injuries and I'm proud and relieved to finally bring the World Cup home 😊.”
2019 UCI Mountain Bike Eliminator World Cup powered by citymountainbike.com: Final standings
1 Gaia Tormena (ITA) 228 points
2 Ella Holmegård (SWE) 196
3 Marion Fromberger (GER) 152
4 Iryna Popova (UKR) 137
5 Clara Brehm (GER) 94
6 Magdalena Duran Garcia (ESP) 78
7 Margaux Borrelly (FRA) 70
8 Anna Stray Rongve (NOR) 58
9 Didi de Vries (NED) 55
10 Ingrid Bøe Jacobsen (NOR) 55
1 Hugo Briatta (FRA) 248 points
2 Titouan Perrin-Ganier (FRA) 195
3 Jeroen van Eck (NED) 175
4 Simon Gegenheimer (GER) 119
5 Felix Klausmann (GER) 114
6 Fabrice Mels (BEL) 76
7 Anton Olstam (SWE) 73
8 Eddy Steiblé (FRA) 59
9 Alberto Mingorance (ESP) 58
10 Jay Bytebier (BEL) 56