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Holmgren family takes control of Candian Olympic selection race after massive World Cup weekend in Nove Mesto

Holmgren family takes control of Candian Olympic selection race after massive World Cup weekend in Nove Mesto

Canada’s mountain bike selection race for this summer’s Olympics started steady but wow did it end with a bang. A wild World Cup weekend in Nove Mesto brought the contest for Canada’s one men’s and one women’s spot in the Olympic XCO to a close. With the dust settled, it looks like the Holmgren family is in charge.

Coming into Nove Mesto, there was a solid list of Canadians with a shot at the two spots. There was a narrow, and specific path open for those riders to earn their respective spots.

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Canadian women: Isabella’s stunning debut

On the women’s side, Jenn Jackson was on the verge of the top-12 result she needed in Nove Mesto to claim the women’s spot. Emilly Johnston had three under-23 World Cup podiums to her name, putting her in the race. Isabella Holmgren and Marin Lowe arrived in Nove Mesto with junior world championships podiums, which didn’t give any advantage in selection but did hint at what the two first-year under-23 riders were capable of.

On Friday, Isabella Holmgren won under-23 women’s XCC. Again, not a race that counted towards selection, but another hint at what was to come. On Saturday, the Lidl-Trek racer delivered when it mattered. She absolutely dominated the under-23 women’s XCO World Cup, her debut in the under-23 category to win by over two minutes. Johnston finished fourth with Lowe further back. That moved Holmgren ahead of Emilly Johnston, whose best u23 XCO World Cup result is a second place.

That put all the pressure on Jenn Jackson. If she finished 12th or better in Sunday’s elite women’s XCO, that would trump Holmgren’s U23 World Cup win. Jackson started on pace to do just that, riding the first half of the race in, or near the front group. By the half way mark, the Liv racer was outside the top 12, but in touch. She faded further before a mechanical ended her chances entirely.

With that, Holmgren moves into position to claim Canada’s spot in the women’s race.

Gunnar Holmgren follows Tom Pidcock in Nove Mesto. Photo: Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool

Canadian men: Gunnar delivers on Andorra promise

The race for the lone men’s spot for Canada was more of a two horse race. Gunnar Holmgren and Carter Woods are both pushing Canada’s men’s mountain bike program back into the spotlight and were both on the hunt for the spot in Paris.

Holmgren came close to claiming the spot in 2023 when, at the Vallnord, Andorra World Cup, he was riding…

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