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Fairytale start to Neff’s elite MTB career

Swiss star Jolanda Neff claimed her maiden elite Cross Country World Cup win at the same Cascades MTB Park where she won her Under 23 World Championship title last year, as she held off the experienced Gunn-Rita Dahle and team mate Maja Wloszczowska in harsh conditions on Sunday afternoon.
Having made the leap from age group racing to the elite section the Liv Pro XC Team rider never looked under pressure after she went into the lead early on in the first lap. Having gained the lead she never relinquished it – even after a crash during her second of four laps.

“I had a crash on the second lap after I had a lead of over a minute and when I crashed I lost a lot of time and hurt myself and my saddle was out of place so I had to get off and fix it,” a relieved Neff said. “It is not the best thing that can happen but I was happy that I could find the rhythm again in the next lap and keep the lead until the finish line.”

Making the step up to the elite level has not been difficult for the 21 year old who now boasts a record of two wins from two outings in Pietermaritzburg. She was elated to have held off the challenge from the other riders and felt that she had the ability to win but needed to execute well – which she did.

“It is such an amazing feeling; I knew that I was in good shape after I had a really good winter where I could do a lot of good training so I knew my shape was good and it is always really special when you can put it together when it counts and it is amazing that I could do it today.

“I like the course here, I was here last year for the first time and I immediately loved the track and I really feel at home here. The new sections are really fun to ride and I have started to really love racing here,” an ecstatic Neff added.

Eight World Championship titles as well as the second most wins in Women’s cross country World Cup history, experience was on the side of Multivan Merida Biking Team rider Gunn-Rita Dhale Flesjaa and she used every ounce of street wisdom to make her way through the field to end in second place having started in 10th.

“I had a lot of fun out there, it is extremely hard but we have worked a lot on the technical skills and the sport has changed a lot in the last five, six years and I think I proved to everyone else and especially myself that I can still be up there fighting.

“The courses are not going to stop changing and I am just really happy with what I did out there today,” a satisfied Dahle said.

Having been on the second row at the start of the race the chance of getting caught up in other riders and that is what happened to the 41 year old off the start line after she was in an altercation with the rider in front of her.

“I was a little bit unlucky at the start, I was on the second line at the start and Alexandra was in front of me and her foot slipped somehow on the peddle and then my bars went into her saddle which meant that I had a really bad start.

“I was just repeating to myself that in the last few days I have been telling myself that if something happens that I must not panic and stress because that is the most stupid thing you can do on a course like this so I tried to just keep calm and focus on what I am good at and it turned out well and I am really happy about that,” she concluded joyfully.

South African hopeful and Orange Monkey Pro Team rider Mariske Strauss produced a dream ride in her maiden women’s elite race after she ended in 19th place overall and that followed a crash along the course from the Western Cape resident.

SUMMARY OF RESULTS – 2014 UCI MTB WORLD CUP PIETERMARITZBURG, PRESENTED BY SHIMANO
Cross Country

Elite Women
1. Jolanda Neff (Liv Pro XC Team) 1:38.00
2. Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Multivan Merida Biking Team) 1:38.25
3. Maja Wloszczowska (Liv Pro XC Team) 1:39.00
4. Annika Langvad (Specialized Racing XC) 1:39.37
5. Alexandra Engen (Ghost Factory Team) 1:39.55
6. Sabine Spitz (Sabine Spitz Haibike Pro Team) 1:40.04
7. Irina Kalentieva 1:40.08
8. Julie Bresset (BH-Suntour-KMC) 1:40.48
9. Emily Batty (Trek Factory Racing) 1:41.05
10. Tereza Hurikova (Specialized Racing Team) 1:41.27

The UCI MTB World Cup, presented by Shimano, takes place at the Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg from 11-13 April 2014.

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Absalon reigns supreme at Maritzburg MTB World Cup

The 2014 UCI MTB World Cup, presented by Shimano, at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg came to a thrilling end with the elite men’s cross country final that saw Julien Absalon claim his maiden victory in South Africa.

BMC MTB Racing’s Absalon started slowly but soon found himself locked in a titanic tussle with Pietermaritzburg favourite and three time winner at the venue, Nino Schurter of SCOTT-Odlo MTB Racing, and the expected fascinating final two laps had the large crowd abuzz with excitement.

The contest was however dashed shortly after the midway point of the penultimate lap when Schurter punctured his rear wheel, opening the doorway for Absalon to power home unchallenged to claim the win.

“I’m really happy. It’s great to win the first World Cup, especially with it being here in South Africa where I crashed twice and broke ribs at last year’s World Champs,” Absalon after his 27th World Cup race victory.

“I wasn’t the fastest downhill and I arrived a little bit stressed after my two crashes last year. I wasn’t really feeling comfortable in the Tree House rock garden but I did a safe line, maybe not the fastest but a safe one, and the feeling and shape was good so I was happy.

“I used a lot of energy during the first lap to overtake about fifteen guys. Once I got up to Nino it was a nice fight though. He was very fast in some of the technical sections but then he got a flat tyre.

Smelling blood, Absalon took full advantage of the opportunity and charged ahead, knowing all to well that then third placed Manuel Fumic of Cannondale Factory Racing would soon discover Schurter’s misfortune as well.

“When I saw his flat I knew I had to go full gas. I also knew Manuel (Fumic) was not far behind and pushing hard so I only thought about going full gas to the finish line!

Schurter will miss the second leg of the World Cup series in Cairns, Australia due to a rare appears in a major road race and so Absalon’s Pietermaritzburg victory gives him a notable advantage in the race for the overall World Cup title.

“I will return to France tomorrow for one week’s training at home, then I go back to Australia and hopefully I can arrive back in Europe after that still with the leaders jersey!

After surging past a helpless Schurter, Fumic gave it his all to reel in the leader however risking losing his second place, and its all-important respective UCI points, wasn’t something the German star was willing to do.

“I thought I could win at least once here in Pietermaritzburg but there was no shame finishing behind Julian today and today I proved again that I can ride really well on the Pietermaritzburg course,” said the bubbly character.

“My tactics were to always try be more or less in the front, especially through the technical sections, because then you have the freedom of choosing your own lines.

“In the end Nino was a bit unlucky with his puncture and so I managed to get past him and then I just fought as hard as I could for my second place.

“I love South Africa, I spend the European winter here. I love the country and Pietermaritzburg and it was just another really a good day here for me again,” he added.

Marco Fontana of BH-Suntour-KMC put in a consistent effort throughout the contest and deservedly claimed third place while a gutsy Schurter eventually crossed the line in sixth position.

“Its obviously disappointing, I was in a good position and I was just trying to put Julian in the hurt box after I’d recognized he was starting to have a few troubles,” said Schurter.

“Unfortunately I flatted and in quite a bad place too so I had to ride quite a far way with the flat, but that’s racing.

“I had quite a lot of good luck here in the last three years, this one was unfortunately the one with the bad luck!

“When you see guys flying past you it’s always a bad feeling but it’s happened to everyone and you have to accept it. Hopefully next time I will have better luck and be back for more podiums,” added the World Champion.

The world class course laid out by course designer Nick Floros received rave reviews from the vast majority of the riders.

There were however an unfortunate few who came unstuck, particularly in the elite men’s cross country race, with South Africa’s Tyron Bird (Quattro) being one of the casualties as he went over the handlebars and his teeth pierced his bottom lip, ironically in the newly built Red Lipped Herald stretch.

The elite men’s cross country event marked the end of the global showcase and the seven-leg circuit now shifts to Cairns, Australia in two weeks’ time.

The UCI MTB World Cup, presented by Shimano, takes place at the Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg from 11-13 April 2014.

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The Gallery

All pics : Darren Goddard/Cycho Media/Gameplan Media

2014 – Thursday 10 and Friday 11 April

Other videos

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Contact Us

General event queries can be sent to Alec Lenferna at

  •        Alec Lenferna
    Event Director
  •       Dave Macleod
    PR & Media Manager

Please note that to deter spammers, the above email addresses have not been hyperlinked, so you cannot click on the email to open your message. Please copy the address into your message.

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All pics : Darren Goddard/Cycho Media/Gameplan Media

2014 – Thursday 10 and Friday 11 April

2014 – Saturday 12 April

2014 – Sunday 13 April

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Results

RESULTS

DH:

Timed Runs:
Elite Men
Women
Junior Men

Qualifying:
Elite Men
Women
Junior Men

Finals:
Elite Men
Women
Junior Men
Teams

Standings:
Elite Men
Women
Junior Men
Teams

XCO:

Under 23 Women:
Results
Analysis
Standings

Under 23 Men:
Results
Analysis
Standings

Elite Women:
Results
Analysis
Standings

Elite Men:
Results
Analysis
Standings

Results will be posted here shortly after the completion of each event.

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UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014 Pietermaritzburg



Thank you!


Thanks for being part of an exciting start to the UCI MTB World Cup 2014 calendar! We hope you enjoyed the competition and hospitality. and found time t
o take in some of the attractions of Pietermaritzburg and kwaZulu-Natal .

We look forward to seeing some of you back for the UCI MTB Marathon World Championships in June.

View the photo gallery here