The UCI Cross-country Olympic World Cup closes out the first ever 2023 UCI Mountain Bike World Series triple-header in Saalfelden Leogang

Sunday, 18.06.2023

The UCI Cross-country Olympic World Cup closes out the first ever 2023 UCI Mountain Bike World Series triple-header in Saalfelden Leogang

After an historic day in the downhill, Puck Pieterse and Lars Forster help close out the UCI Mountain Bike World Series in Saalfelden Leogang in style.

Puck Pieterse runs away with the win
World Champion Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (INEOS GRENADIERS) eyed taking a clean sweep in Austria by wrapping up the Cross-country Olympic race, adding to her win in the short track. She would have to see off Lenzerheide’s winner, European Champion Loana Lecomte (CANYON CLLCTV) who would no doubt profit from the stiff amount of climbing in the race course.

With the sun shining and the track in peak condition, it would be the perfect setting for the World’s fastest to go head-to-head. Six laps separated the pack from the finish line and glory, but anyone could have taken the gold today.
Puck Pieterse (ALPECIN-DECEUNINCK) would emerge victorious after a crushing ride, pedaling off the front on the first lap, extending her lead throughout the race. It would continue to be a good weekend for the locals as Austrian National Champion Mona Mitterwallner (CANNONDALE FACTORY RACING) and fellow Austrian Laura Stigger (SPECIALIZED FACTORY RACING) would give the Austrian fans something to celebrate, taking the silver and bronze medal positions respectively.

Puck Pieterse had this to say about her win today: “My tactic was to start quite fast to give the slower starters a disadvantage on the climbs. I had a small gap at the beginning, and it just kept growing. All the way through I didn't feel great, but I just kept pushing and it worked out. I had a few key moments in my head. To push at the top of the first climb and on the climb under the lift. I wanted to go full gas there and recover on the descents. My form is quite good now and it's great going into next weekend."
Mona Mitterwallner said: “Obviously I was strong on the climbs today. I felt good on the climbs just riding at my own pace. I didn't get dragged into any of the games some riders like to play. It means a lot to get this result here. This week was perfect, a front row start after the short track. I am still hungry for a win, but it means a lot to get a podium at my home World Cup, in front of my home crowd and give something back. The crowd were insane and gave me goosebumps. Thanks to everyone who came out and screamed my name, it means a lot.”

Third place Laura Stigger said this after the race: “It's amazing to race at home here in Leogang. Amazing people, amazing organization, family and friends' support, even sponsors came to cheer me on. It's so special for me. A big, big thank you to everyone who supports me, over the years and in every situation, good or bad. The start was super fast, Puck went full gas from the start to finish, we couldn't do anything about it. Big congratulations to her. I took it easy at the start to not overcook, I can be proud of the result, it's amazing. It shows you how much the home crowd gives you.”

Results Elite Women Top 5: 
1.    Puck Pieterse (NED | ALPECIN-DECEUNINCK) 1:16:38
2.    Mona Mitterwallner (AUT | CANNONDALE FACTORY RACING) 1:17:16
3.    Laura Stigger (AUT | SPECIALIZED FACTORY RACING) 1:17:34
4.    Jenny Rissveds (SWE | TEAM 31 IBIS CYCLES CONTINENTAL) 1:18:03
5.    Loana Lecomte (FRA | CANYON CLLCTV) 1:18:32

Overall World Cup Standings:
1.    Puck Pieterse (NED | ALPECIN-DECEUNINCK) 781 Points
2.    Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (FRA | INEOS GRENADIERS) 640 Points
3.    Loana Lecomte (FRA | CANYON CLLCTV) 630 Points
4.    Anne Terpstra (NED | GHOST FACTORY RACING) 544 Points
5.    Alessandra Keller (SUI | THÖMUS MAXON) 532 Points

Lars Forster reigns supreme in Austria
After his record-breaking win in Lenzerheide last weekend, World Champion Nino Schurter (SCOTT-SRAM MTB RACE TEAM) would look to further cement his position as the greatest of all time. With so many talented riders on the start line though, it would not be an easy task. France’s Jordan Sarrou (TEAM BMC) would look to do the double after his short track victory.

Whilst the Leogang track would feature some lung-busting climbs, the descents required skill to navigate, and with the course drying, conditions would be loose. It also remained to be seen who would get the best of the heat and the course when it mattered.
At the end of yet another classic Elite Men’s Cross-country Olympic event, Swiss rider Lars Forster (THÖMUS MAXON) attacked on the final lap, opening up a gap of 14 seconds to the man who led from the front in his usual style, Germany’s Luca Schwarzbauer (CANYON CLLCTV) in second. Ondrej Cink (PRIMAFLOR MONDRAKER GENUINS RACING TEAM) finished third, taking the bronze medal position. 

Lars Forster spoke after the race, saying: “I had a pretty good start and just felt good today. I told myself to be patient, reminded myself about the heat and how long the race was. I just took my time and started to gain places and started to think I might be able to get a top 5. When I overtook Mathias, I knew that a win might be possible. I knew I would be the strongest climber on the penultimate lap, so I pushed on from there. I had goosebumps on the last 500m on that last lap, I'm so happy.”
Luca Schwarzbauer, speaking after the race, said: “That I can get this result on a track like this against riders 8-10kg lighter than me is just incredible. This is the first World Cup that I could ride absolutely pain free and I could finally see what my body is capable of. I must say I didn't think this kind of result was possible, so I am super happy. I'll try to enjoy this result then look to the next round. I'm a bit overwhelmed right now. It was such a good race, and I am so thankful for the Canyon team around me.”
Ondrej Cink had this to say about his race: “I am really happy with this result. I had a lot of issues with illness over the winter, so it was really hard to come back. I only had ten days preparation for Lenzerheide and Leogang, so this result is amazing. It was a really hard course today, but I knew it was one that would suit me well today. I was very motivated and felt good from the start. I tried an attack, but the guys were too strong. I am really happy to come in third.”

Results Elite Men Top 5:
1.    Lars Forster (SUI | THÖMUS MAXON) 1:17:41
2.    Luca Schwarzbauer (GER | CANYON CLLCTV) 1:17:55
4.    Alan Hatherly (RSA | CANNONDALE FACTORY RACING) 1:18:11
5.    Mathias Flückiger (SUI | THÖMUS MAXON) 1:18:25
Overall World Cup Standings Top 5:
1.    Jordan Sarrou (FRA | TEAM BMC) 580 Points
2.    Nino Schurter (SUI | SCOTT-SRAM MTB RACING TEAM) 565 Points
3.    Luca Schwarzbauer (GER | CANYON CLLCTV) 548 Points
4.    Lars Forster (SUI | THÖMUS MAXON) 534 Points
5.    Alan Hatherly (RSA | CANNONDALE FACTORY RACING) 516 Points

Dominant displays from Sofie Pedersen and Adrien Boichis in Leogang 
Denmark’s Sofie Pedersen (WILIER-PIRELLI FACTORY RACING XCO) dominated the race, riding off the front and extending her lead from start to finish. New Zealand’s Samara Maxwell, one minute and eight seconds finished second, getting the better of Ginia Caluori (THÖMUS MAXON) in the sprint to the finish.

Speaking after the race, Sofie Pedersen said: “I felt so good. I was a bit surprised at how good I felt today, this course is quite a bit different to the first World Cups with a lot of climbing. I felt super strong and just kept the flow. I’m super happy.”
Results U23 XCO Women Top 5:
1.    Sofie Heby Pedersen (DEN | WILIER – PIRELLI FACTORY TEAM XCO) 1:05:09
2.    Samara Maxwell (NZL) 1:06:17
3.    Ginia Caluori (SUI | THÖMUS AKROS – YOUNGSTARS) 1:06:19
4.    Noëlle Buri (SUI | BIXS PERFORMANCE RACE TEAM) 1:06:49
5.    Sina van Thiel (GER | LEXWARE MOUNTAINBIKE TEAM) 1:07:42

In the U23 men’s race it was Adrien Boichis (TRINITY RACING MTB) and Dario Lillo (SCOTT DAVOS MTB PROJECT) who pulled away from the rest of the race, but it would be the French rider doing the double with a final lap attack. The battle for third was no less exciting with Luke Wiedmann (THÖMUS MAXON) who finished third thanks to his own attack in the dying moments of the final lap.
Adrien Boichis said this about his win: “I just wanted to enjoy the race at the start. I train really hard for these races, and I just want to have a good day, feel like you can do something special. Whatever the result, I just want to feel good and get the best out of myself.”

Results U23 XCO Men Top 5:
1.    Adrien Boichis (FRA | TRINITY RACING MTB) 1:06:54
2.    Dario Lillo (SUI | SCOTT DAVOS MTB PROJECT) 1:07:06
3.    Luke Wiedmann (SUI |  THÖMUS MAXON) 1:07:32 
4.    Tom Schellekens (NED) 1:07:36
5.    Bjorn Riley (USA | TREK FUTURE RACING) 1:08:12