Val d’Isère World Cup – Womens XC Finals

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The cross-country World Cup once again saw the standings shuffled after round five in Val di Sole, Italy on Saturday. In the women’s race, there was a fifth winner in five events, with Maja Wloszczowska (CCC Polkowice) outsprinting Canada’s Catharine Pendrel (Luna) to win only the second World Cup of her career. Pendrel regained the lead in the overall standings after losing it a week earlier in Champéry, Switzerland.

The 6.3 kilometre course was dominated by a series of steep, steep climbs, which took their toll on the fields. In the men’s race, only 88 of 190 starters finished on the same lap as the winner. The hot sun made matters worse, as riders wilted in the open grassy sections.

Pendrel, coming off a mechanical-plagued race in Champéry, was determined to have a better day in Val di Sole. She had dropped to third in the standings following the fourth round, 61 points behind the new leader, Eva Lechner (Colnago Arreghini Sudtirol), and 46 points behind Willow Koerber (Subaru-Trek).

After Koerber led the field out of the start loop and onto the first of four laps, Pendrel went to the front and launched an attack late in the first lap. By the top of the first climb on the second lap she had an eight second lead on a group containing her team mate Katerina Nash, world champion Irina Kalentieva (Topeak Ergon), Swiss rider Esther Süss, Wloszczowska and American Katie Compton. Koerber was struggling just off the back of the group, and Lechner had fallen well off the pace.

A lap later, and Pendrel had been joined by Wloszczowska, with the chasers down to Kalentieva, Compton and Nash. Nash was fading, but would hold onto fifth, while Kalentieva and Compton were still less than 20 seconds from the lead duo going into the final lap. This forced the front pair to keep working hard together throughout the lap, until the final flat section, when Wloszczowska launched an attack that Pendrel could not respond to, rolling in five seconds ahead of the Canadian.

“It was my aim to get on the podium,” said Wloszczowska, “I really like track here. “But I did not expect to win. It feels really good to win my second World Cup (1st Schladming 2008). I got to Catharine on second to last lap and we worked together. So I have to thank her for my win.”

Pendrel was disappointed not to win, but happy to come back from her poor showing a week earlier, and take back the leader’s jersey.

“I just knew that I could be strong here,” explained Pendrel. “I wanted to have a strong race after everything that happened last week. When Maja came up to me it was both good and bad. Good because we could work together on the flat sections, and bad, because obviously she was riding really well. But I’m really happy to take back the [World Cup leader’s jersey], and now I just want to hold it through the final race.”

Pendrel commented that she wants to break “the jersey curse”, that has seen every leader this year lose the jersey the race after donning it.

Pendrel now leads the World Cup with 794 points, followed by Lechner at 740 and Willow Koerber with 735. One race remains in the series, at Windham, New York, in late August.

Emily Batty (Trek World Racing) finished 21st overall, and second in the Under-23 category, behind Under-23 world champion Tanja Zakelj (MBK Orbea), who was 11th overall. Other Canadian results include Amanda Sin (Canadian National Team) in 34th, Mikaela Kofman (Canadian National Team) was 47th, Catherine Vipond (Canadian National Team) was 62nd and Sandra Walter (Local Ride) was 67th.

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