Cycling News

Holmgren’s XCC win heats up Canada’s Olympic selection race

Picture by Thomas Maheux/ - 10/08/2023 - 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships - MTB Cross Country - Glentress Forest, Peebles, Scotland - Junior Women Cross-country Olympic - Isabella Holmgren - Canada (L) with teammate Marin Lowe after they finished 1- 2 in the world championships

When Isabella Holmgren won Friday’s under-23 short track World Cup in Nove Mesto, it was a fantastic U23 debut for the Ontario racer. It also kicked the selection race for Canada’s lone Olympic spot in the women’s cross country race this year into high gear.

The race, to be clear, was already dramatic. Canada is projected to earn one spot in the women’s race in Paris, something that is very unlikely to change when the qualification period ends after this weekend’s racing in Nove Mesto. There is a wave of young talent all competing for that spot.

Isabella Holmgren and Marin Lowe celebrate a 1-2 finish at 2023 world championships. Photo: Thomas Maheux/

Holmgren and Lowe announce arrival

Holmgren’s short track win on Friday in Nove Mesto doesn’t actually count towards Canada’s Olympic selection process. It does, though, give an indication of what she’s capable of in tomorrow’s under-23 women’s XCO World Cup and that event does count towards selection. Before Friday, we all knew Holmgren would be good. How soon she would be good was the question. Friday was her first World Cup mountain bike race as an under-23. It is also the last race in the Olympic selecction window. That doesn’t leave much time for the junior XCO (and cyclocross) world champion to get comfortable in the under-23 field. Though after Friday, that doesn’t look like it’ll be an issue.

Marin Lowe also made her under-23 World Cup debut Friday. Finishing seventh, she also showed she’s already comfortable moving up the field. Lowe finished second behind Holmgren at junior world championships last year, too, so will also be one to watch on Saturday.

Can they qualify for the Olympics, still?

For either Lowe or Holmgren to make it to Paris, there is an extremely narrow path to qualification. The only way they can qualify, at this point in the selection process, is to win Saturday’s u23 XCO race. That would mean unseating Germany’s Kira Bohm, who has yet to lose a World Cup XCO yet this year. In fact, Holmgren’s XCC win Friday ended a four-World Cup winning streak for the German.

Saturday’s under-23 women’s race will be broadcast live, for free, on the UCI Mountain Bike…

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