It would be easy to dismiss American Kate Courtney’s win at the 2018 World Mountain Bike Championships as a fluke. After all, her best finish on the World cup circuit had been sixth, a year after dominating the U23 division.
But her world title ride was confirmed by her outstanding performance in the Cross Country World Cup opener in Albstadt (GER), where she routed an excellent field, winning by 49 seconds over 2017 World Champion Jolanda Neff (SUI) and 1:31 over 2017 World Cup seasonal champ Yana Belomoina (UKR).
Courtney never let up from the start, taking the lead on the initial 2.8 km lap, taking a 13-second lead over Neff and then blowing up the field with a 14:42 clocking on the first of five 4.2 km laps. By the end of that segment – 7 km into the 23.8 km race – she already had a 29-second lead and it grew from there. Her lead was as big as 1:10 at one point, but Neff kicked hard over the final lap to close to 49 seconds down at the finish.
It’s Courtney’s first career World Cup win in Cross Country, but also she won Saturday’s Short Course race (9.6 km) in 21:05, again beating Neff, but only by one second, with Swiss Kathrin Stirnemann third, two seconds behind. How far has Courtney come in a year? She was 10th in the Albstadt World Cup in 2018.
In the men’s Cross Country, Swiss riders Lars Forster and superstar Nino Schurter got out fastest on the 28.0 km course, but countryman Mathias Flueckiger challenged for the lead by the end of the second lap and then took control. He turned in the fastest or second-fastest time on four of the final five laps and won by 32 seconds over Mathieu van der Poel (NED) and 33 over France’s Jordan Sarrou. Schurter faded to sixth overall. Summaries:
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup
Albstadt (GER) ~ 17-19 May 2019
(Full results here)
Men/Cross Country (28.0 km): 1. Mathias Flueckiger (SUI), 1:23:54; 2. Mathieu van der Poel (NED), 1:24:26; 3. Jordan Sarrou (FRA), 1:24:27; 4. Titouan Carod (FRA), 1:25:14; 5. Florian Vogel (SUI), 1:25:16.
Men/Short Track (10.8 km): 1. Van der Poel (NED), 20:28; 2. Lars Forster (SUI), 20:28; 3. Nino Schurter (SUI), 20:30; 4. Maxime Marotte (FRA), 20:30; 5. Henrique Avancini (BRA), 20:30.
Women/Cross Country (23.8 km): 1. Kate Courtney (USA), 1:26:03; 2. Jolanda Neff (SUI), 1:26:52; 3. Yana Belomoina (UKR), 1:27:34; 4. Anne Tauber (NED), 1:27:52; 5. Anna Terpstra (NED), 1:28:23. Also in the top 25: 6. Chloe Woodruff (USA), 1:29:00.
Women/Short Track (9.6 km): 1. Courtney (USA), 21:05; 2. Neff (SUI), 21:06; 3. Kathrin Stirnemann (SUI), 21:07; 4. Linda Indergand (SUI), 21:08; 5. Annika Langvad (DEN), 21:09. Also in the top 10: 7. Woodruff (USA), 21:17.