Roasting sun, crazy fans, #fullgasMTB. The second edition of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Lenzerheide broke all records. 18,000 spectators made their way to watch the world’s best mountain bike athletes along the downhill and cross-country courses, set in the mountains of Graubünden. Neff overcame her back pains to take third place behind Jenny Rissveds (SWE), who won her first ever Women Elite World Cup, and Annika Langvad (DEN). Schurter triumphed in the Men Elite in front of a super excited home crowd. Young Frenchman Titouan Carod celebrated success in the Men U23 and the Swiss fans had another reason to celebrate late in the afternoon after Sina Frei (SUI) beat her opponents in the last race of a long and hot cross-country day.

Swiss Schurter succeeds in Lenzerheide
They had to battle the heat, the dust and themselves. With the support of thousands of spectators, the 66 starters pushed themselves to the absolute limit at the fourth cross-country World Cup race of the season. The XCO-stars had to overcome eight laps and 32.5 kilometres / 20.1 miles. At first local hero Nino Schurter was having difficulties to get into gear, so last year’s winner Jaroslav Kulhavy (CZE) took over the reigns. However, the Czech national was unlucky to have a flat tyre, which opened up the opportunity for Schurter to make his move. After passing Kulhavy the 30-year-old never looked back and started to pile up the seconds leading ahead of Maxime Marotte (FRA). Marotte tried to keep pace, but he had trouble coming his way. Fellow countryman Julien Absalon (FRA) found his rhythm and inched towards second place. Absalon waited until the last lap before overtaking and leaving Marotte behind. Schurter turned into finish area with the Swiss crowd making a huge racket and sealed his third World Cup win of the season after crossing the line in 1:27:26 hours. “I had a scary moment at the start, when I didn’t manage to click into my pedal and wasn’t sure whether it would cost too much energy to make my way forward. I managed somehow though. It’s a great feeling to win in front of a home crowd.” With this impressive display of strength and endurance, Nino Schurter is a sure candidate for the Olympic Gold medal in Rio de Janeiro.

A day of surprises for the Women
The world’s best XCO women athletes had to conquer seven rounds totalling up to a distance of 28.4 kilometres / 17.5 miles. It was the Canadian Catharine Pendrel, who had the best start. Leading the group, she was followed by the new Women Elite XCO World Champion Annika Langvad from Denmark. But it was the new Women U23 XCO World Champion Jenny Rissveds, who took heart and sped into the front of the pack. The third lap was very eventful: Langvad wasn’t going to accept Rissveds’ attack and pushed harder, rewarding herself with the lead. Jolanda Neff, who had problems with back pains all of last week, fought her way through the ranks, moving up from seventh to third spot, very much to the liking of the cowbell-swinging Swiss fans spread all over the course. “Heidi’s Hell”, a fast downhill section with lots of ruts and roots, turned out to be “Pendrel’s Hell”, when the Canadian buried her chances of a place in the top 3 after slipping on the root carpet in the woods. In the fifth lap the hopes for a second place of Jolanda Neff were silenced, when the 22-year-old Rissveds turned the heat up a notch and pulled away from the Swiss star. But she still was not satisfied: charging after Annika Langvad, the Swede passed the Dane in the sixth lap and never looked back. Jenny Rissveds was applauded in the finish area for an exceptional performance, which secured her first ever Women Elite World Cup win ahead of Langvad (+1:08) and Jolanda Neff (+1:32). “It was an unbelievable day for me! The track was really good fun and very demanding. It was really important to keep up the pace. I still cannot believe, that I achieved my first win in this category today.” The thousands of fans celebrated Neff’s third place like a win. The 23-year-old was relieved and happy with the result: “My back suffered, but it was so much better than last week. It was fantastic to race here today and my friends and the fans really pushed me today.”

The stars of tomorrow: Carod and Frei win U23 in Lenzerheide
Titouan Carod (FRA) was able to distance himself from the rest of the field during the Men U23. He showed a dominant performance and crossed the finish line after 1:16:03 hours. The Frenchman was followed by Simon Andreassen (DEN) and Samuel Gaze (NZL). A weekend of world-class mountain bike action came to a close with the Women U23 race. Sina Frei from Switzerland finished in 1:22:12 and won ahead of Kate Courtney (USA) and Anne Tauber (NED).

A sunny and hot Sunday capped off the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Lenzerheide. The warm weather, nail-biting race action and entertaining side events lured record breaking 18,000 spectators to the town set in Graubünden’s beautiful mountain scenery. The holiday region is already looking forward to welcoming back the world’s best athletes and fans to the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup from July 7th to 9th 2017.
The full replay of all the race action can be found on Red Bull TV.

Further information: www.mtbworldcup-lenzerheide.ch