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Photo: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool

Van der Poel, Ferrand-Prévot win MTB World Cup in Italy

Mathieu van der Poel and Pauline Ferrand-Prévot won the fifth round of the UCI mountain bike World Cup in Val di Sole, Italy.

It’s two World Cup wins and counting for Mathieu van der Poel.

Van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) captured his second career UCI mountain bike World Cup on Sunday, attacking to the victory at the fifth round of the 2019 series, held in Val di Sole, Italy.

The Dutchman dropped Nino Schurter (Scott-SRAM) and Mathias Flueckiger (Thomus RN) on the sixth and final lap of the race. Van der Poel put in a surge on the first climb of the hilly lap and never looked back, crossing the line with a 18-second advantage over Flueckiger.

Van der Poel said he chose to attack on the short and punchy uphill because he felt the other two riders were descending better than him on the muddy track.

“I wanted to be first in the descents, especially the second one—I was the only one of the three who always took the ‘B’ line,” Van der Poel said. “It was a bit longer, but I felt more confident on that line. I knew that if it came down to a sprint I would be the fastest, normally. But i felt there was still something left int he tank, and I went full gas on the first climb and I made a gap.”

Photo: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool

The winning move came after an aggressive race which saw van der Poel sprint to the front of the race on the opening lap alongside Schurter and Brazilian rider Henrique Avancini (Cannondale). Flueckiger bridged on the second lap, and Avancini as eventually dropped, leaving the three riders to battle it out for the final three laps.

Van der Poel was noticeably stronger on the climbs, and it was Schurter who had to use the descents to catch back on.

“It was really hard. Actually, I felt pretty good from the beginning but Flueckiger and Schurter were also good because the pace was very high,” van der Poel said. “When one of wasn’t attacking riding full gas, another one was doing it, so the pace never dropped, and that made it quite a hard race.”

The victory boosed van der Poel into second place in the World Cup standings. It also came two days after he won the short-track race to open the weekend.

Ferrand-Prévot sprints to the win

Photo: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool

In the closest World Cup finish of the season, Frenchwoman Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (Canyon-SRAM) won the women’s race in a two-up sprint with Jolanda Neff (Trek Factory Racing).

The victory marked Ferrand-Prévot’s first World Cup victory since 2015.

“For sure I’m emotional. It’s my first international victory since 2015 and a lot has happened in the last three years,” Ferrand-Prévot said. “It hasn’t been easy but it also hasn’t been easy for the people that support me, my sponsors and my family.”

The exciting finale came after a cat-and-mouse chase between Neff and Ferrand-Prévot. The Frechwoman surged into the lead on the second of five laps and opened a minute advantage on Neff by the midpoint of the third lap. But Neff kept the pressure on, and narrowed the advantage to Ferrand-Prévot on the back half of the race, especially on the descents.

Neff caught Ferrand-Prévot on the final lap, setting up a dramatic battle on the course. Both riders took turns surging on the climbs and descents.

“I knew Jolanda was not far behind and I gave everything i had,” Ferrand-Prévot said. “When she came back, I said, ‘I have done the race at the front and I don’t want to lose.'”

Ferrand-Prévot surged into the lead on a short riser a few hundred meters from the finish, and then sprinted from the front to hold off Jeff by less than a bike length.

Chloe Woodruff (Stans-Pivot) was the top North American finisher, crossing the line in sixth place. The result equaled Woodruff’s best ever European World Cup finish—she was sixth at the 2019 World Cup opener in Germany.

Noticeably absent from the front of the race was series leader Kate Courtney (Scott-SRAM), who lost the pace early and rode for much of the race outside of the top-10. Courtney finished 17th place, with Neff taking over the lead in the World Cup series.

“A result doesn’t define me. Refusing to quit in the darkest moments does,” Courtney wrote on social media.