Val Di Sol 4X and XC Report

By: Colin Meagher

4X

The past two sunny days had done wonders to dry out the DH track, but that same sun had also made the 4X track extremely loose.

“The corners are pretty slippery, for sure,” asserted Beerten. “There’s gonna be some carnage there, I think.”

There was, indeed some carnage: Luca Fusani took a helicopter ride out—injuries unknown. Additionally, Romain Saladini took a nasty crash during practice in the pro line, which effectively took the French rider out.

The women only numbered eleven in qualifying, so only 8 made it in. No real surprises, there, either. Only Anneke Beerten had mastered the pro line, and by taking not only the hole shot, but also the pro line of doubles, she sealed the deal in very short order. Anita Molcik took second, with Katy Curd and Joanna Peterson in fourth. The small final was won by Steffi Marth.

The men, on the other hand, had a full deck of racers: sixty four. Roger Rinderknecht was very on form, despite not being as powerful in the opening straight as some other riders. Specifically Jared Graves, who is so powerful that taking the hole shot against him is next to impossible. So in the finals, Rinderknecht used his wiles, diving inside on Graves in the second corner and holding him off for the win. There was some contact in there on Graves by someone, not sure who, that bumped him back to fourth. He tried to come back up, but by the last corner, the Yeti rider realized that fourth was where he was slated to be.

Green means go...

Green means go...

Practice makes perfect, and Graves was almost perfect today. Next time.

Practice makes perfect, and Graves was almost perfect today. Next time.

Jakob Riha getting a little loose on the dusty 4X track at Val di Sole.

Jakob Riha getting a little loose on the dusty 4X track at Val di Sole.

I did say dusty...

I did say dusty...

CG warming up for the main event.

CG warming up for the main event.

Roger Rinderknecht was back to his old form today-elbows out, aggressive racing.

Roger Rinderknecht was back to his old form today-elbows out, aggressive racing.

Quentin Derbier advanced to the small final.

Quentin Derbier advanced to the small final.

Mikal Prokop looks to have recovered from his digger during a BMX comp in Spain back in April--recovered enough to take third on the day.

Mikal Prokop looks to have recovered from his digger during a BMX comp in Spain back in April--recovered enough to take third on the day.

Rinderknecht with the snap.

Rinderknecht with the snap.

Anita Molcik leads out the semi with ease.

Anita Molcik leads out the semi with ease.

Anneke Beerten owns the pro line doubles. And the final.

Anneke Beerten owns the pro line doubles. And the final.

Grubby Graves edging out Prokop during the semis.

Grubby Graves edging out Prokop during the semis.

Edging out Graves in the second corner made Rinderknecht a lock for the win.

Edging out Graves in the second corner made Rinderknecht a lock for the win.

A recovering Fabien Barel put in a surprise appearance. If all goes well, look to see Barel back aboard a bike in February.

A recovering Fabien Barel put in a surprise appearance. If all goes well, look to see Barel back aboard a bike in February.

All sewed up: Graves owns the 4X overall title.

All sewed up: Graves owns the 4X overall title.

For the overall, Beerten padded her lead a bit: forty five points over Anita Molcik, Graves now leads the series by 135 points to Tomas Slavik; with a win awarding only 125 points, Graves gets to spend the next three weeks making room in his trophy case for the World Cup overall trophy.


XC

It was a knock down drag out battle for the whole race here in Val Di Sole, Italy. From the gun, it was Willow Koerber, but the Trek/Subaru rider couldn’t hold the front, and by the end of the first lap a hard charging Catharine Pendrel of Luna had moved to the fore, marked closely by Maja Wloszczowska. As those two duked it out, Katerina Nash began moving up, as did Katie Compton—the US CX National Champ. Heading into the final lap, a powerful Compton was in third and looking to attack, but faltered in the final climb, and was forced to settle for fourth. Katerina Nash, in the meantime, had secured fifth.

Up front, it came down to a sprint finish, with Wloszczowska able to lay down just a bit more power over Pendrel to take the win.

This was a short race—only 1:23:00 on the nose. Another lap might have seen a different ending, but as it was five—count ‘em, five US women made the top 20; Compton in fourth, Georgia Gould in seventh, Koerber taking tenth, Mary McConneloug in thirteenth, and Heather Irmiger taking home seventeenth.

In the men, Absalon came out swinging, but Nino Schurter and Florian Vogel were able to utilize a bit of team tactics to put the hurt on him. Additionally, Absalon prefers to attack on hills, but the steep grades of the climbs made attacks almost impossible. A rider could go, but getting an escape from the chasers was simply not happening.

Essentially, it boiled down to an extremely tactical race with Vogel, Schurter, and Absalon off the front, maintaining contact and trying to get away, but with Absalon against two Swiss Power riders, it was going to be extremely hard for the Frenchman to put his stamp on this race. In the closing meters, this race also came down to a sprint finish, with Schurter able to take the win over Absalon by four seconds. Vogel took third another sixteen seconds back, followed by Mathias Fleukiger (+1:26) and then Ralph Naef (+1:46)

If all the mechanics had their coffee taken away, no racing would ever happen.

If all the mechanics had their coffee taken away, no racing would ever happen.

Sandy of Specialized is the man who keeps Todd Wells' big wheels rolling.

Sandy of Specialized is the man who keeps Todd Wells' big wheels rolling.

For quick wheel changes, lawyer tabs have just gotta go...

For quick wheel changes, lawyer tabs have just gotta go...

It was 300 degrees F in the sun, so Thomas Frishknecht thoughtfully provided a bit of shade for Nino Schurter.

It was 300 degrees F in the sun, so Thomas Frishknecht thoughtfully provided a bit of shade for Nino Schurter.

Kinda looks blood-thirsty, doesn't he? Schurter on the gas.

Kinda looks blood-thirsty, doesn't he? Schurter on the gas.

Adam Craig rocking the awesomeness of the descent aboard his Giant Anthem X.

Adam Craig rocking the awesomeness of the descent aboard his Giant Anthem X.

Not a great day for Geoff Kabush: great start, but by lap 3 the wheels had come badly off the Canadian.

Not a great day for Geoff Kabush: great start, but by lap 3 the wheels had come badly off the Canadian.

Absalon is lurking somewhere behind Schurter and Florian Vogel, the rider protecting his rear wheel.

Absalon is lurking somewhere behind Schurter and Florian Vogel, the rider protecting his rear wheel.

Deep in the pain cave, Todd Wells was able to roll to a top 20 place--barely. Nineteenth for the Colorado based rider.

Deep in the pain cave, Todd Wells was able to roll to a top 20 place--barely. Nineteenth for the Colorado based rider.

Not too many big wheels out there on the track, but Mike Broderick was rocking his Seven Sola niner and loving every minute of it.

Not too many big wheels out there on the track, but Mike Broderick was rocking his Seven Sola niner and loving every minute of it.

Jochen Kass was 22nd on the day.

Jochen Kass was 22nd on the day.

Burry Stander was deep in the hurt locker, but still eked out a tenth place.

Burry Stander was deep in the hurt locker, but still eked out a tenth place.

Schurter pinned it through this rock section like he had a rocket strapped to his bike. Note the sew-up tires...

Schurter pinned it through this rock section like he had a rocket strapped to his bike. Note the sew-up tires...

Schurter savoring the flavor of yet another win.

Schurter savoring the flavor of yet another win.

Willow Koerber poised for a fast start.

Willow Koerber poised for a fast start.

While Koerber lead from the gun, she went out too hard and was forced to ease up or blow up, but she lost valuable real estate in an effort to stay in it, and Catharine Pendrel was only too happy to step up to the front of the ladies field.

While Koerber lead from the gun, she went out too hard and was forced to ease up or blow up, but she lost valuable real estate in an effort to stay in it, and Catharine Pendrel was only too happy to step up to the front of the ladies field.

Katie Compton was the spoiler. A poor start last week took her out of the game, but the shorter nature of this track allowed the powerful Compton to put a serious hurt on the rest of the field.

Katie Compton was the spoiler. A poor start last week took her out of the game, but the shorter nature of this track allowed the powerful Compton to put a serious hurt on the rest of the field.

Irina Kalentieva putting the boots to Katerina Nash on one of the steep climbs that littered the track.

Irina Kalentieva putting the boots to Katerina Nash on one of the steep climbs that littered the track.

Race winner Maja Wloszczowska bided her time, stalking Pendrel on the flats and giving up time on the climbs. ''But I knew I had better legs on the flats, and that if it came to a sprint, I could win. And I did--my first sprint win!''

Race winner Maja Wloszczowska bided her time, stalking Pendrel on the flats and giving up time on the climbs. ''But I knew I had better legs on the flats, and that if it came to a sprint, I could win. And I did--my first sprint win!''

Wloszczowska maintaining contact with Pendrel.

Wloszczowska maintaining contact with Pendrel.

Eva Lechner was gassed by the steep climbs and the hard pace, coming home twelfth.

Eva Lechner was gassed by the steep climbs and the hard pace, coming home twelfth.

Wloszczowska and the win.

Wloszczowska and the win.

And a 3 liter bottle of bubbly...

And a 3 liter bottle of bubbly...

Pendrel giving a few pointers on opening the big bottle of bubbly.

Pendrel giving a few pointers on opening the big bottle of bubbly.

With her second place, Pendrel reclaimed her overall lead on the World Cup XC title.

With her second place, Pendrel reclaimed her overall lead on the World Cup XC title.

With the win, Schurter takes the World Cup leader’s jersey from the Orbea rider, surging ahead in the overall by a narrow margin: twenty-six points. Likewise, the women saw a change in the leader’s jersey, as Eva Lechner came in twelfth on the day, and was forced to surrender the lead to Catharine Pendrel, who now leads by 54 points. With a win worth two hundred and fifty UCI points, neither lead is secure heading into the World Cup finals in Windham, NY at the end of August, making the XC finals at Windham one of the tightest battles for the overall in years.

Related Posts:

Add a Comment

The Connect

Instagrams - @bikemag