American Kate Courtney overcame an early flat tire to win Sunday’s UCI World Cup cross-country mountain bike race in Nové Město, Czech Republic. Courtney (Scott-SRAM), chased down Dutch rider Anne Tauber on the long, technical climb on the last of six laps, and then rode solo to the victory.

Courtney finished 36 seconds ahead of Australian rider Rebecca McConnell. Tauber suffered a mechanical on the last lap and fell to 10th place.

Courtney said the early mechanical problem required her to focus on her own pace for the remainder of the race.

“I was just trying to stay focused on riding clean lines. I got off to a bit of a rocky start. I think I started a little hard, and when I had my flat it was a little bit of a tough mental day for me,” Courtney said after the race. “I was able to reset and focus on my own pace, and I’m truly kind of amazed at how it worked out. It took every ounce of what I had and I’m really proud I was able to stay focused, stay calm, and keep believing.”

The win marks Courtney’s second World Cup victory this season. Last weekend Courtney won the World Cup opener in Albstadt, Germany, which marked the first American cross-country World Cup victory in 20 years.

Courtney now leads the World Cup standings.

Courtney’s victory came after a weekend of American success in the Czech World Cup. Chloe Woodruff won Friday’s short-track World Cup, and then U23 rider Haley Batten won the U23 cross-country race on Saturday afternoon. The results bode well as the U.S. team chases UCI points in the hunt for the maximum three Olympic spots for the 2020 games in Tokyo.

“It’s so special to do that for America. We had three wins this weekend: Chloe in the short track, Haley Batten in the U23 race, and then me in the elite race,” Courtney said. “I think we’re all inspiring each other and hopefully inspiring the next generation of American mountain bikers.”

UCI World Cup Cross-country No. 2, Nové Město, Czech Republic, Women’s Results

  1. Kate Courtney, USA, 1:27:31
  2. Rebecca McConnell, Australia, at 0:36
  3. Haley Smith, Canada, at 0:42
  4. Sina Frei, Switzerland, at 0:45
  5. Malen Degn, Denmark, at 1:33

Van der Poel takes first World Cup

Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) claimed his first career elite World Cup cross-country race on Sunday, attacking away from Olympic champion Nino Schurter (Scott-SRAM) on the final lap of the men’s race.

Van der Poel and Schurter built an early lead, rolling away from the men’s field after the first of seven laps. By the penultimate lap the two had more than a minute gap on the rest of the field.

As the two rode into the base of the final climb, van der Poel stood out of the saddle and sprinted away from Schurter. The Swiss rider tried to match van der Poel’s acceleration, but the Dutch rider simply sprinted away.

Van der Poel held his gap to the line, crossing with a 20-second advantage on Schurter.

“It was a battle [with] one of the greatest mountain bikers, and it is extra sweet,” Van der Poel said at the finish.

The victory marks a huge stepping stone for van der Poel’s goal of winning the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Van der Poel has come close to winning a World Cup in the last three seasons, however he had yet to make it to the top step. Van der Poel has said his career goal is to win the Olympic cross-country prize, before deciding whether or not to focus on road, mountain, cyclocross, or a combination of all three.

At the finish, van der Poel said the World Cup victory is one of his biggest wins of 2019.

“For me, it is one of the biggest achievements […] winning a world cup in mountain bike is one of the toughest things I can do,” van der Poel said. “I’ve been trying for three years now, that’s quite a long time. I’ve had some nice victories in the short track and I’ve been dreaming of a World Cup win and its been a long time since a Dutchman has done it, and I’m really proud.”

UCI World Cup Cross-country No. 2, Nové Město, Czech Republic, Men’s Results

  1. Mathieu van der Poel, The Netherlands, 1:21:54
  2. Nino Schurter, Switzerland, at 0:19
  3. Mathias Flueckiger, Switzerland, at 1:53
  4. Henrique Avacini, Brazil, at 2:01
  5. Ondrej Cink, Czech Republic, at 2:12