The women's field saw a very strong performance from Loana Lecomte (FRA), Jenny Rissveds, and Alessandra Keller (SUI) as they got on the gas early and took off on the first lap.
They added a large margin on the competition and battled it out for four laps until Loana Lecomte was able to find an extra gear and pull out on Rissveds and Keller. Lecomte walked away with the win with Rissveds in second and Keller grabbing third place in front of a wild home crowd.
An absolutely wild race for the men saw Mathias Flückiger (SUI) and Nino Schurter (SUI) in close contention for the win, but a last-minute crash saw Luca Braidot (ITA) come from the back to cross the finish line first.
Loana Lecomte puts together a powerful ride to take the win on Swiss soil
Out of all of the stops on the XCO World Cup Circuit, Lenzerheide contains some of the least elevation gain but is considered by many to be the most physical. These riders will be going to battle against rocks, roots, berms, other riders, and themselves. The Swiss riders will have an extra challenge, being pushed by screaming fans trying to see the first-ever winner from their home country.
A happy Jenny Rissveds (SWE) is a fast Jenny, as she is the first visible leader of the women's race at Lenzerheide. The first lap saw riders throughout the whole pack wheel to wheel and bar to bar up the first hill until the trail bottlenecked and riders had to pick their lines. Rissveds took this as an opportunity to get ahead and set the pace as she grabbed the lead, leaving Jolanda Neff (SUI) and Loana Lecomte (FRA) closely behind after the first lap.
Lecomte grabbed the lead with Rissveds and Keller close behind. The group of three pulled away from the rest of the pack leaving Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (FRA) almost 35 seconds back.
The front pack stayed evenly matched through the second lap, as Rissveds led, steadily adding distance on the rest of the riders.
The Swiss fans went wild as Alessandra Keller made a push and took over the top spot as the front group's lead continued to grow. Prévot and Jolanda Neff were taking turns leading the chasing group.
The excitement was short-lived for Swiss fans as Lecomte was able to capture the front spot, leaving Keller back into third. The pack had now grown their lead on fourth place to 56 seconds. Loana Lecomte launched a push and extended her lead to look a little more comfortable for the final lap.
The battle for fourth place continued to go back and forth as Anne Terpstra (NED) took the spot from Ferrand-Prévot.
An unbelievable performance this far from Keller, visibly in a lot of pain but did not want to let the second place of Rissveds take off on her. Keller was able to harness the energy of the home crowd and get past Rissveds with 3 quarters of a lap to go. Unfortunately, she was unable to hold on and Rissveds moved past Keller and pressured Lecomte through the final stretch.
Lecomte held on and grabbed the win with Rissveds in second and an elated Keller crossing the line in third with the Swiss crowd going absolutely wild for the podium.
The battle for fourth came down to a final sprint as Prévot narrowly beat Terpstra.
“I'm very happy and to be honest I didn't think I could win today, and I am very happy to win for the first time in Lenzerheide.” said an excited Loana Lecomte through a big smile.
XCO Elite Women Results Top 5:
Loana Lecomte (FRA) 1:17:31
Jenny Rissveds (SWE) 1:17:39
Alessandra Keller (SUI) 1:17:55
Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (FRA) 1:19.37
Anne Terpstra (NED) 1:19:37
XCO Elite Women Overall World Cup Standings Top 5:
Loana Lecomte (FRA) 1204 Points
Rebecca Mcconnell (AUS) 1203 Points
Jenny Rissveds (SWE) 975 Points
Anne Terpstra (NED) 890 Points
Alessandra Keller (SUI) 832 Points
Luca Braidot comes from behind to capture his first-ever world cup win
The men blasted out of the gate in a blaze, with Nino Schurter (SUI) grabbing the lead early on in his hunt for a 34th World Cup victory and the record for most wins. Schurter set a very quick pace, showing how bad he wants it as he gets out of the saddle and sprints in front of the home crowd on the start lap.
A tough start for Mathias Flückiger saw him back in 14th place but as usual, he showed the crowd just how powerful he is by pushing through up to 2nd place halfway through the first lap. Early on, we had a Swiss 1,2,3 with Schurter leading followed by Flückiger and Colombo.
Schurter slowed down slightly but continued to look strong as he led his fellow countrymen into the second lap. Flückiger pushed Schurter hard as they seemed to be pushing an impossibly fast pace up the first hill on the second lap. He was unable to get by, as Schurter continued to lead - but an interesting change showed Schurter almost intentionally let Flückiger pass him on the descent.
Vlad Dascalu (ROU) crashed and damaged his bike, but he is able to mount his bike and join the race again. The lead group of Flückiger, Schurter, Hatherly (RSA) and Colombo look dominant as they control the pace for the rest of the riders through the second lap.
Luca Braidot (ITA) joined the lead group as they remained extremely tight at the beginning of the third lap. Braidot was able to work his way through the pack past Flückiger into the front.
Halfway through the third lap, the pace seems to have slowed slightly with Braidot leading and Schurter and Flückiger close behind. The battle continued as Schurter was able to get back in front as he rounded his way into the corral to finish the third lap.
The crowd saw some big changes at the beginning of the fourth lap as Colombo was able to get out in front and Schurter fell back into second. Colombo’s lead was short-lived as David Valero Serrano (ESP) snuck by on the first downhill.
Flückiger took a risk on an alternate line and was able to get out in front and step on the gas. Flückiger and Schurter put a little bit of distance on the rest of the pack. The race was back to a 1,2,3 Swiss contention with Colombo in third.
Flückiger and Schurter set a pace that seemed unobtainable for anyone except themselves as they took off. The two of them are leapfrogging each other through the penultimate lap.
Braidot found a gear as he was able to push past both Flückiger and Schurter on the final lap. His lead didn't last long as Schurter was able to get past him back into first. Braidot fell back into third as Flückiger attempted his alternate route again, but Schurter was able to stop him this time to maintain his lead.
Flückiger out-sprinted Schurter in an all-out battle at the halfway mark on the final lap, but unfortunately the two crashed into each other and went down. Luca Braidot capitalized and was able to beat Hatherly in an all-out sprint to get his first-ever World Cup win.
A big disappointment for Schurter, who ended the day in fourth place, but an exciting final lap for the fans in Lenzerheide.
“I always saw the race from behind and today I am in the top and it’s just special.” Luca Braidot on how it felt to get his first win after years of racing.
XCO Elite Men results Top 5:
- Luca Braidot (ITA) 1:17:32
- Alan Hatherly (RSA) 1:17:32
- Mathias Flückiger (SUI) 1:17:36
- Nino Schurter (SUI) 1:17:44
- Filippo Colombo (SUI) 1:18:04
XCO Elite Men Overall World Cup Standings Top 5:
- Nino Schurter (SUI) 1154 Points
- Alan Hatherly (RSA) 942 Points
- Mathias Flückiger (SUI) 936 Points
- Vlad Dascalu (ROU) 882 Points
- Maxime Marotte (FRA) 691 Points
- Strong riding from the U23 in the Alps
Sofie Pedersen showcased her fitness and technical ability as she was able to stave off the rest of the field to take top honors in women's U23 with the Swiss riders, Noelle Buri and Ronja Blöchlinger coming in 4th and 5th.
While Martin Vidaurre Kossmann of Chile takes top honours for the men ahead of Canadian Carter Woods and Charlie Aldridge from Great Britain.
Bike Kingdom Games celebrate big mountain bike festival with almost 30,000 spectators
The great drama at the very end did not spoil the excellent atmosphere at the Bike Kingdom Games. A total of over 27,000 visitors made their way to the World Cup in Lenzerheide to support their heroes throughout the weekend. As expected, spectator numbers peaked on XCO Sunday, when around 11,500 mountain bike fans followed the Swiss specialty discipline live on site. No surprise that Christoph Müller, head of the OC, draws a positive balance:
“We are very happy with the weekend. We set a new record in visitor numbers, which is very nice after the years with Covid. From a sports perspective, the Bike Kingdom Games delivered as always. There were many highlights – from the Short Track race on Friday to Downhill on Saturday and today's Cross-Country race on Sunday. Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be for a Swiss win this weekend, but we hope it will be the case next year. It all worked out perfectly. Like the whole weekend, today’s weather was great, but unfortunately we weren't lucky enough to celebrate a Swiss success today."