Windham World Cup XC Recap

By: Colin Meagher

For the first time in a long time, not one, but two American women claimed World Cup Overall podium spots, with both Willow Koerber and Georgia Gould making the selection. In other World Cup racing news, the Canadians dominated the women’s race, with Catharine Pendrel and Marie-Helene Premont stuffing the rest of the field while the Swiss men previewed their World Championship aspirations by dominating the podium here in Windham.

The Women’s XC race:

From the first lap, the race was Catharine Pendrel’s to lose. The Luna rider came out of the gate swinging hard, took control halfway up the first lap, and was firmly in the driver’s seat halfway up the first climb, with Marie Helene Premont hot on her heels. Behind the two leaders, the rest of the field came on hard at first, but then a few mechanicals and the brutal pace shed the bunch. Many riders were forced to go into damage control mode, while others, like Eva Lechner, simply blew up. Georgia Gould, however, dug deep and did her best to bridge up in the final lap, but the pace of the leaders was simply too much for her.

Up front, Pendrel retained control of the pace for the duration. She did have a brief scare as Marie-Helene Premont surged past her with a wicked attack on the final climb of the last lap, but Pendrel was able to reel her back in and take the win by four seconds.
Gould came in third, but was still 2 minutes and change back from her teammate, Pendrel. She was followed by Blaza Klemenic and then Elisabeth Osl to round out the podium.

The Men’s XC race:

It was a slugfest, pure and simple, with all the big kids coming out swinging. Nino Schurter needed only to beat Absalon to take the overall, and the only way to do that is by blasting away from the gun. The rest of the top men simply had nothing to lose. And from the start gun, that was more than evident. In very short order a selection had been made with Jaroslav Kulhavy, Florian Vogel, Christoph Sauser, Lukas Fluekiger, Julien Absalon, Jose Hermida, Burry Stander, and—from out of nowhere—Liam Killen.

Behind them, the same situation that the women had faced was staring the chasers square in the face—keep the pace and detonate, or go into survival mode. Most opted for the latter. A number of riders suffered flats or were caught in a first lap tangle too. Such was the fate of Todd Wells, Geoff Kabush, and Adam Craig. Kabush was forced to DNF with a mechanical.

In the end, it came down to horsepower. A very hungry Kulhavy had it, and took the win, followed by Schurter, Vogel, Sauser, and Fluekiger, who all had some horses, but not enough to burn.

For the Overall races, things shook out as anticipated for the top spots: Pendrel and Schurter took it. But in the Women’s XC, two Americans—Willow Koerber and Georgia Gould—were on the box, claiming second and fourth, respectively. Eva Lechner’s dismal race dropped her to third overall and Esther Suess took the last step on the box. The men—used to being dominated by Absalon—saw a changing of the guard, as the French rider took the second step. Kulhavy’s win here tied him with Absalon for points, but as he had only one World Cup win to Absalon’s two, the Czech rider was forced to take third overall. Vogel and Jose Hermida took fourth and fifth.

Nino Schurter was hard on the gas from the gun.

Nino Schurter was hard on the gas from the gun.

Lap one saw the Swiss Poer rider with a bit of a gap, but not for long.

Lap one saw the Scott-Swisspower rider with a bit of a gap, but not for long.

Jaroslav Kulhavy was a close second behind Schurter on lap one.

Jaroslav Kulhavy was a close second behind Schurter on lap one.

Once the selection had been made, the front of the bunch was up for grabs every lap. Manuel Funic takes a pull here in lap two.

Once the selection had been made, the front of the bunch was up for grabs every lap. Manuel Fumic takes a pull here in lap two.

But Schurter wasn't letting Fumic get too far away.

But Schurter wasn't letting Fumic get too far away.

Wells fell victim to a flat somewhere in lap two and fell way off the back.

Wells fell victim to a flat somewhere in lap two and fell way off the back.

Adam Craig also fell victim to a mechanical.

Adam Craig also fell victim to a mechanical.

Schurter kept it on full gas, and was really hoping for the win.

Schurter kept it on full gas, and was really hoping for the win.

Burry Stander was looking super strong, but then fell off the back a bit, with Jose Hermida coming around him on one of the climbs.

Burry Stander was looking super strong, but then fell off the back a bit, with Jose Hermida coming around him on one of the climbs.

The source of more than one flat on the track, loads of rocks.

The source of more than one flat on the track, loads of rocks.

Burry came back for another pull on the front, but ultimately finished fell to eighth on the day.

Burry came back for another pull on the front, but ultimately finished fell to eighth on the day.

Big Sky Sam Schultz wasn't as strong here as he wanted to be, but was able to come home in twenty-second place, making him the top American male XC racer at Windham.

Big Sky Sam Schultz wasn't as strong here as he wanted to be, but was able to come home in twenty-second place, making him the top American male XC racer at Windham.

Absalon was decidedly un-Absalon in today's race, finishing off the podium entirely.

Absalon was decidedly un-Absalon in today's race, finishing off the podium entirely.

Liam Killeen made a surprise appearance here at Windham and looked to be on form for the first couple of laps-the the wheels fell off a bit with Killeen falling to twelfth.

Liam Killeen made a surprise appearance here at Windham and looked to be on form for the first couple of laps-the the wheels fell off a bit with Killeen falling to twelfth.

Schurter-the reigning World Champ and now the World Cup overall winner.

Schurter-the reigning World Champ and now the World Cup overall winner.

The women's selection: Pendrel and Premont.

The women's selection: Pendrel and Premont.

Willow Koerber was able to change that plate number to a "2" by the end of the race.

Willow Koerber was able to change that plate number to a "2" by the end of the race.

Beauty and the beast--another climb on Windham's XC course.

Beauty and the beast--another climb on Windham's XC course.

After a year hiatus, Chinese are back at making points for the 2012 Olympics.

After a year hiatus, Chinese are back at making points for the 2012 Olympics.

Despite a rocking enough ride to nail down second overall on the World Cup circuit, Koerber was unhappy with her performance. ''When I don't do as well as I know I can, I'm not happy. So while I'm stoked on the World Cup Overall ranking, I'm already past this. Instead, I'm looking to Worlds in St Anne--I love that track.''

Despite a rocking enough ride to nail down second overall on the World Cup circuit, Koerber was unhappy with her performance. ''When I don't do as well as I know I can, I'm not happy. So while I'm stoked on the World Cup Overall ranking, I'm already past this. Instead, I'm looking to Worlds in St Anne--I love that track.''

Katie Compton put in a hard charging late effort, but ultimately was not able to make the podium.

Katie Compton put in a hard charging late effort, but ultimately was not able to make the podium.

Canadian domination in the finish area was complete with a flag. A small flag, but I didn't see any stars and stripes.

Canadian domination in the finish area was complete with a flag. A small flag, but I didn't see any stars and stripes.

Pendrel with the win.

Pendrel with the win.

An exhausted Gould gave it a hell of a go, but third was the best the US National champ could pull down.

An exhausted Gould gave it a hell of a go, but third was the best the US National champ could pull down.

The Luna team's dominant performance earned them the XC team of the race.

The Luna team's dominant performance earned them the XC team of the race.

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