• Annika Langvad of Specialized Racing XC (Rob Jones)Source: Rob Jones
Australians Dan McConnell and Rebecca Henderson (both Trek Factory) had some of their strongest European results of the 2016 World Cup season on Sunday, in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, with McConnell finishing 11th in Elite men and Henderson 12th in Elite women.
By
Cycling Central

11 Jul 2016 - 8:50 AM 

Lenzerheide takes the riders to heat and altitude on a fast but rough and rooty course. Many a rider has gone out hard only to pay for it later in the race.

In the elite women's race, world champions finished 1-2, with the new Under 23 world champion, Jenny Rissveds (Scott-Odlo), beating the elite world champion, Annika Langvad (Specialized Racing). Local favourite Jolanda Neff (Stockli Pro) took third. Henderson worked her way up steadily from the mid-30s on the opening lap.

Rissveds, Catharine Pendrel (Luna) and Langvad opened a gap on the rest of the field on the first lap of the seven lap race. Neff, who went out hard last year and then blew up, took a more conservative approach, riding in the chase for the early part of the race.

The three leaders had a 30 second gap on Katerina Nash (Luna) and 38 seconds on Neff and Maja Wloszczowska (Kross Racing) as they started the third lap, when Pendrel crashed hard on a descent in that lap. The Canadian champion got going quickly, but her saddle was bent and she lost multiple places as she rode more slowly to the Tech Zone for assistance, eventually finishing seventh.

Langvad attacked on the third lap, opening a gap over Rissveds that was up to nearly 30 seconds by the start of the fifth lap, with Neff moving up to catch Rissveds. It looked like Langvad was about to take her third win of the season, but Rissveds began to surge in the final two laps, dropping Neff and catching Langvad, before attacking almost immediately to pull away and win by over a minute.

"I can't believe, it's just crazy," Rissveds said about her first Elite World Cup win. "Last weekend I became world champion in under 23, and today I compete against the Elite world champion and the world's best ... and I won.

"I didn't think I could catch (Langvad), but I just tried to push as hard as I could, and stay calm, and then accelerate towards the end of the race.  Then I caught Annika and attacked her, and got a gap."

With two more rounds left, Langvad continues to lead the overall standings with 776 points, followed by Pendrel at 620, while Rissveds jumps to third with 550 points.  Henderson is ninth, with 409 points.

Newly crowned world champion Nino Schurter (Scott-Odlo) took his third World Cup win of the season in elite men, holding off a late charge by Julien Absalon (BMC). Maxime Marotte (BH-SR Suntour-KMC) took third. McConnell, after finishing the opening lap in 32nd place, surged in the second half of the race, to finish four seconds out of the top-10.

The eight lap race did not start well for Schurter, who pulled his foot out of his pedal at the start, immediately losing more than a dozen spots as his main rivals sprinted at the front. However, he was able to quickly make his way back to the leaders, joining Absalon and defending Lenzerheide champion Jaroslav Kulhavy (Specialized Racing) at the front.

Kulhavy set a hard pace on the second lap, gapping the other two on the main climb. Schurter bridged across but Absalon couldn't respond, eventually getting passed by Marotte and Victor Koretzky (BH-SR Suntour-KMC), who both joined Kulhavy and Schurter at the front.

On the third lap Schurter attacked, with Kulhavy chasing, followed by the two BH-Suntour riders, however, the Czech then flatted, dropping to nearly a minute back before getting a wheel change, joining Absalon. Kulhavy got a slight gap on Absalon, but the race order looked to be set as the riders began the second half, with Schurter out in front, followed by Marotte, then Koretzky, then Kulhavy and finally Absalon.

Absalon then began a late race surge with two and a half laps remaining, passing and dropping both Kulhavy and Koretzky to move into third.  With half a lap to go, Absalon had caught and dropped Marotte to move into second, and in the final lap made up more than 40 seconds on Schurter.

"I had a really bad start," Schurter said. "I couldn't get into my pedals and then by the top of the first climb I was maybe 20th, and it took quite a bit of energy to get to the front. 

"It was amazing to race back home, I love this track. I didn't know that [Kulhavy] had punctured, but I just did my own race and went as fast as I could. I've had two great races in a row now, so it gives me confidence as I go into my final preparations for Rio."

Schurter, with his third win of the season continues to lead the standings with 900 points, however, Absalon is only 90 back, and Marotte remains in third at 720 points. McConnell jumps from 23rd to 18th in the standings, with 254 points.