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Loana Lecomte and Victor Koretzky took a French double at the opening round of the Albstadt UCI World Cup on Sunday.
Lecomte rode a long solo to score a dominant victory in the unseasonable heat of Albstadt, Germany, while Koretzky punched away from MTB heavyweight Nino Schurter in the final minutes to win the men’s event.
The U.S. women’s racers had a strong start to the World Cup, with Haley Batten and Kate Courtney taking third and fourth respectively.
Multi-discipline stars Tom Pidcock and Mathieu van der Poel finished fifth and seventh in the men’s after aggressive performances in the front half.
Lecomte came from the fourth row on the grid to boss the women’s race and surprise the favorites in the opening round of the series. The 21-year-old beat fellow Frenchwoman Pauline Ferrand-Prévot by nearly one minute to score her second World Cup victory after also winning in Nové Město last fall.
Lecomte went clear as early as the first lap and soon gained over a 30-second lead. Once the reigning U23 world champ had the gap, she was never seen again, despite a strong pursuit from Ferrand-Prevót.
U.S. rider Hayley Batten finished third in what was her first elite World Cup race, 22 seconds behind Ferrand-Prevot. Kate Courtney finished fourth, just seconds back on her young compatriot.
Schurter makes the selection, unlocked by Koretzky
While the women’s race made for a solo show of strength, the men’s race was a close-fought battle.
Mathieu van der Poel and Avancini were both aggressive early on, with Pidcock following the moves. However, as the laps clicked by, van der Poel and Pidcock both faded, and a four-man group formed at the front, and Koretzky, Schurter, Ondřej Cink, and Mathias Fleuckiger went into the final lap locked together.
Pidcock and van der Poel both recovered after their mid-race problems to launch separate chases, with the young Brit close behind the front four.
Schurter made his move on the long descent of the final lap, with only Koretzky able to follow.
The European champ continued pressing through the final circuit only for Koretzky to come around him in the final minutes and keep kicking all the way to the line to take the win. Fleuckiger finished third, 23 seconds back.
Pidcock’s frantic final lap pursuit came away without a podium slot, with the 21-year-old finishing fifth in his first-ever elite World Cup.