• Bec Henderson on her way around the course at the 2016 UCI MTC World Cup XCO in Mont-Ste-Anne, Canada (Rob Jones/Canadian Cyclist) (Canadian Cyclist)Source: Canadian Cyclist
Australian Olympians Rebecca Henderson (Trek Factory Racing) and Dan McConnell (Trek Factory Racing) finished eighth and 22nd respectively at the XCO World Cup in Mont-Ste-Anne (MSA), Canada on Sunday. With their wins in the final hit out before the Rio Olympics, Catharine Pendrel (Luna) and Julien Absalon (BMC) also proved they're tracking nicely.
Rob Jones

Cycling Central
10 Aug 2016 - 9:49 AM 

Pendrel edged closer to World Cup leader Annika Langvad (Specialized) in the overall standings after Langvad only managed fourth. It is Pendrel's fourth win at Mont-Ste-Anne setting a record in the women's field, and the 12th of her career.

Absalon moved into the lead of the men's standings after Nino Schurter (Scott Odlo) skipped MSA for his Olympic preparations.

Mont-Ste-Anne, Canada, is the oldest and one of the most storied venues on the Mountain Bike World Cup circuit. It always offers a demanding circuit, with steep climbs and rooty, rocky descents. This year, MSA is the final major competition before the Olympic cross-country.

Women's XCO - as it happened

Pendrel went to the front on the first of six laps, opening up a 20 second lead on Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjaa (Multivan Merida) and Langvad, with Katerina Nash (Luna) following 10 seconds later and Batty just behind. The gap hovered around the 30-second mark for much of the race, Pendrel unable to extend, while the chasers could not make up time.

By the halfway mark, Dahle Flesjaa dropped Langvad who looked uncharacteristically slow on the climbs, while Batty moved up to join Nash. The front two held on for first and second, but Batty caught Langvad in the final lap to take third, much to the delight of the Canadian crowd.

"On this course it's just super important to get out in front," said Pendrel. "A lot of people make mistakes in front of you so at least if you make a mistake you're in control."

"It was awesome there are so many people out on course. It was amazing out there, trying to keep focused and not get distracted by what was going on."

"Of course I'm a little disappointed after having so many great results this year," admitted Langvad. "Mont Ste-Anne was never my favourite course, maybe it's the jet lag or I don't know, but my legs just never feel comfortable here. To date though, this is my best result on this course so I'm satisfied with it."

Henderson, after a slow start in the low-20s, moved up steadily all race, recording some of the fastest lap times in the second half of the race. But the Australian was less than satisfied. 

Langvad continues to lead the overall standings with 926 points and one race remaining, but her lead over Pendrel has shrunk to 56 points. Nash remains in third at 630 points, with Batty moving up to fourth from seventh, only five points further back. Henderson also moved up the rankings, from ninth to sixth, and only 31 points out of the top-5.

Men's XCO - as it happened

A group of five riders established themselves at the front in the early laps. Absalon, Mathias Fluckiger (Stoeckli Pro), Victor Koretzky (BH-SR Suntour-KMC), Matthias Stirnemann (Moebel Maerki MTB) and Jordan Sarrou (BH-SR Suntour-KMC) quickly opened a gap on the rest of the field.

Koretzky attacked on lap four, with Absalon leading the chase. The Swiss riders, Fluckiger and Stirnemann fell off the pace, and then Absalon attacked with a lap and a half to go, quickly dropping Koretzky to solo in for the 32nd World Cup win of his career.

"In the beginning, I was not able to go it alone," explained Absalon, "so I was sitting on the wheels of the others. I thought it was best to wait for a good moment during the last part of the race because it is so hard a course - if you start too fast it is hard to finish fast, and I like to finish fast.

"It was a good opportunity for me without Nino [Schurter] and Jaroslov [Kulhavy] here to take an advantage in the overall standings. So, it was a good win and also important for me to do this last test two weeks before the Olympics."

Dan McConnell, after an opening lap in the top-20, fell back to the high-20s mid-race before recovering to finish 22nd.

Absalon moved into the leader's jersey, with 1060 points. Schurter drops to second, 160 points back, followed by Maxime Marotte (BH-SR Suntour-KMC) at 798 points. McConnell dropped one spot; from 18th to 19th.