The last gasps of the mountain bike season often present wild card performances; the year’s strongest riders can get disrupted from the established order. In the women’s XCO field, one rider who has come into her best form of the season the past few weeks is Mona Mitterwallner.
Two weeks after taking her maiden World Cup win in rainy Andorra, the young Cannondale rider showed that she can handle dry, dusty conditions just as well while out-climbing the likes of Puck Pieterse (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (Ineos Grenadiers) in Les Gets, France.
How it happened
- Pieterse was fast off the line, demonstrating a textbook start. The course immediately turns uphill, and Canyon’s Loana Lecomte used her climbing abilities to push the early pace followed by Rebecca Henderson (Primaflor Mondraker), Alessandra Keller (Thömus Maxon), and Martina Berta (Santa Cruz RockShox).
- Anne Terpstra (Ghost Factory Racing), Haley Batten (Specialized Factory Racing), and Kate Courtney (Scott-SRAM) were also in the mix, as Ferrand-Prévot made her way up from a fourth-row start after missing Friday’s short track due to illness.
- Lecomte and Keller hit the first downhill in the lead, but Pieterse kept the pace high heading into the second lap, attacking while the others in the lead group sat up for drinks and gels. The unwillingness to delay racing set the tone for the day, with each lap exposing which riders had legs and which didn’t.
- A wildcard rider who has firmly played her hand this weekend is Haley Batten, who matched Pieterse’s accelerations early in the race. The American from Park City, Utah, has missed a few races after dealing with a concussion suffered earlier in the season, but a fourth place in Friday’s short track race earned a great start position today, which she capitalized on.
- Batten couldn’t gain much separation though, and Pieterse used the third lap to launch her best effort of the day. The Dutch rider gained more than 10 seconds as Mitterwallner unclipped and Ferrand-Prévot’s rear wheel washed out on a technical climb. The steep, sun-exposed climbs may have been Pieterse’s downfall though as the chasers managed to claw their way back.
- Mitterwallner hit the front on the penultimate lap. Pieterse was glued to her wheel, but over the course of half a lap the Austrian slowly opened an advantage on the climbs and technical downhills of the Les Gets hillside. That fifth lap saw Mitterwallner set the fastest lap of the race, and behind her Batten and Ferrand-Prévot became locked into a battle for third.
- MITTERWALLNER Mona
- PIETERSE Puck
- FERRAND PREVOT Pauline
- BATTEN Haley
- BLUNK Savilia
Mitterwallner kept her lead to take her second consecutive World Cup win, while Pieterse placed second and Ferrand-Prévot held on for third. Batten placed fourth while her American compatriot, Rockrider Ford’s Savilia Blunk (who just appeared in a Ford Motor Company commercial) rounded out the top five.
Those two Americans will be ones to watch as the World Cup circuit sets its sights on Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia for the next round.
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