In the last round of the Mountain Bike World Cup in Andorra Mona Mitterwallner (Cannondale Factory Racing) stepped up to take her first World Cup Cross-Country Olympic win in the elite category, and in the searing heat of Les Gets she did it again.
The 21-year-old, who was near unbeatable in the U23 category, clearly demonstrated that she is now a force to reckoned with in the elite category as well by taking that second victory in a row. She claimed a front row start position on Sunday thanks to her solid showing in the short track – a season best of sixth – then the Austrian was part of a powerful group of three pursuing series leader Puck Pieterse (Alpecin-Deceuninck) who had charged off the front in the third lap of six.
“Puck just went and I was just like ‘oh she wants to get rid of me’,” said Mitterwallner in the televised post-race interview. “But not today.”
Mitterwallner chased with Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (Ineos Grenadiers), who had worked her way up to the front of the race despite having to start well back in the grid for her home race after missing the short-track due to illness. Hayley Batten (Specialized Factory Racing), who had been out the front early, was also initially part of the group but fell back before long and it was the remaining duo that this time made contact with Pieterse.
However, Ferrand-Prevot drifted away and the battle then came down to the two 21-year-old’s. Once Mitterwallner tasted the front in the fifth lap, the fastest of the race, she wasn’t giving it up, crossing the line with a 38 second winning advantage while Pieterse came second and Ferrand-Prevot held firm in third.
“I can’t really put into words how happy I am and how proud I am because I felt great in the short track on Friday but after the short track my stomach was cramping,” said Mitterwallner, who added that she couldn’t eat properly Saturday but was relieved to have managed a pre-race breakfast and find she was able to still put the power down.
In the U23 women’s race New Zealand’s rainbow jersey clad Samara Maxwell claimed the victory in Les Gets ahead of Austrian riders Ronja Blöchlinger and Ginia Caluori.
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