Mountain

Double Wins for Blevins and Huck Provide Solid Leads in Pro XCT

By: Jackie Tyson  April 30, 2018

Sea Otter Classic completes California Swing for Pro XCT

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. - April 27, 2018 — With back-to-back wins at two signature HC (hors categorie) events to start the Pro Mountain Bike Cross-Country Tour (Pro XCT), Erin Huck (Boulder, Colo.) and Christopher Blevins (Durango, Colo./Specialized Racing) took the individual leads for women and men on the Pro XCT calendar.

Huck has a 76-point lead over Catharine Pendrel (Kamloops, B.C./Clif Pro Team) in the women’s division, while Blevins carries a 30-point lead over Nicola Rohrbach (Switzerland/Goldwurst-Power/Felt)for the men.

Fontana City XC, upgraded from Category 3 to UCI HC for 2018, took place April 7 in Fontana, Calif. The classic Southridge Park circuit offered new sections with epic climbs and lots of rocks. Bonelli Park XC, another UCI HC event, followed on April 14 in San Dimas at Bonelli Park, with its 2.6-mile twisty course and short, steepascents. The California swing of Pro XCT continued April 21 at the Subaru Sea Otter Classic in Monterey.

Pro XCT races at Fontana City and Bonelli Park were part of the 2018 USCupXCO Series presented by Sho-Air International. Huck and Blevins won these top honors, recognizing the world’s best racers in the Olympic format cross-country discipline. The two races also hosted UCI Junior Series competitions.

“Once again the US Cup presented by Sho-Air events at Fontana and Bonelli opened the Pro XCT season with a bang. Top racers from around the globe descended on these iconic southern California venues to make for some great racing,” said Ty Kady,

Marketing Director at Sho-Air International. “Chris Blevinshas remained undefeated in the last two years at Fontana and Bonelli, and Erin Huck showed great spring season form by grabbing two victories.”

Fontana

The Pro Women completed three laps of the 5.2-mile circuit at Fontana City XC. Canadian Pendrel led the 47-rider field with a 20-second advantage on the first lap. She was overtaken on the final lap by Huck, who beat her to the line in a time of 1 hour, 19 minutes, 23 seconds for the win. Pendrel would finish seven seconds back and secure second place. Pendrel’s teammate, Italian Eva Lechner, finished third. 

An 86-rider field battled for a little over 1 hour and 32 minutes in the Pro Men’s category at Fontana City. Separation was made early as the top four finishers would battle for podium spots  - Blevins with Canadians Andrew L’Esperance (Forward Racing), Peter Disera (Norco Factory Racing), and Swiss riderRohrbach. The 20-year-old American would cross the line after four laps with a 19-second advantage over L’Esperance,who would secure second. Disera would take third, and Rohrbach would fade to fourth.

"I didn't have the best start at Fontana, but I was able to make it up the group of three leaders by the end of the first lap,” said Blevins, who was the Pro XCT men’s champion in 2017. "From there, the four of us rode together and grew a pretty big gap to the rest of the field. The heat had worn us all down by the last lap, but I was able to attack up one of the steepest climbs and fend off the chasers. I was riding a full suspension with a dropper post, so I knew I had an advantage on the other guys down the descent. That's where I was able to make it stick."

Bonelli

Making six full laps of the 2.6-mile course at Bonelli Park XC, 51 Pro Women battled the dusty and hot conditions first. Huck remained steady and held off a steady pack of challengers for her second victory of the Pro XCT season, and take the US Cup title for women. 

“I didn't have the best start at Bonelli, so after the start loop I think I was sitting in the mid-20s,” recapped Huck, who finished third overall in the Pro XCT standings last year. “I was patient, though, and waited for efficient opportunities to pass. Once I caught up to the front of the field, I kinda just kept the same charging pace and found myself with a bit of a gap. I was able to settle into a good rhythm and kept the gap through to the finish.”

Caroline Bohé, the 2017 Denmark Junior Women's XC national champion, would make a successful pass of Pendrel in the closing circuits to take second place. Pendrel would finish third. 

It would be a head-to-head matchup with Blevins and Rohrback for the seven laps in the Pro Men’s contest. The Coloradoan would win in 1 hour, 26 minutes and 15 seconds to take the win and the US Cup crown. Rohrback would finish eight seconds back for the silver, followed by L’Esperance in the bronze position.

"I've got a few road races and some MTB World Cups to focus on before the next Pro XCT, but I'll be looking forward to being back racing on the dirt in the States,” added Blevins, who changed into his Hagens Berman Axeon road jersey following the California mountain bike events and won Stage 2 on April 19 at the Tour of the Gila. “Like last year, I won't be able to make it to all the races, but I'm hoping my results at these first two will help carry over to Vermont and Durango. Those two races should be good preparation for the World Championships in September."

Sea Otter

The California swing of the Pro XCT season continued April 21 at the Subaru Sea Otter Classic in Monterey. Early Saturday morning fog would clear and massive crowds gathered as the pros took on the 3.2-mile cross-country circuit around Laguna Seca Raceway and the “swale”. 

Annika Langvad (Denmark/Specialized), who took the short track title on April 20, returned to the winner’s circle on Saturday to win the 46-rider cross-country field  race for pro women. She outdistanced her teammate Kate Courtney (Kentfield, Calif./Specialized) by six seconds for the win. Following across the line two seconds behind Courtney for third was Evie Richards (Great Britain). Huck would finish fourth.

“I was really happy with how the first two Pro XCT's went. They were good confirmation that training is on track. I'm hoping to take that fitness, do some fine-tuning and focus on the upcoming World Cups,” said Huck, who won the Short Track Cross-Country national title in 2017. “I might be going to Soldier Hollow, as I hear it's a great course and they have an official Cross-Country Short Course. It’s short track, but with UCI points!” 

With Blevins switching to road racing for the week, the 69-rider field for the pro men was wide open. New Zealander Anton Cooper (Trek Factory Racing), who was second in short track on Friday, rode to a solo victory in the men’s Pro XCT event, 26 seconds ahead of Howard Grotts (Durango, Colo./Specialized), the reigning U.S. mountain bike national champion in cross-country.

Up Next

The next Pro XCT races will be May 5-6 at the Soldier Hollow Pro XCT in Midway, Utah;  the Missoula XC in Missoula, Mont. on June 9;  Julbo Eastern Grind in Catamount, Vt. on July 28;  Purgatory’s Revenge in Durango, Colo. on Sept. 2. For more information visit www.usacycling.org/find-event/...

About Pro XCT

The Pro MTB Cross-Country Tour (Pro XCT) offers cross-country Olympic-style (XCO) and short-track cross-country (STXC) racing. All the events on this calendar are UCI-sanctioned, allowing elite riders the opportunity to earn valuable UCI ranking points. A total of seven events in five states are part of the 2018 Pro XCT calendar. All the events on this calendar are UCI-sanctioned, allowing elite riders the opportunity to earn valuable UCI ranking points. Four of the events will offer competitions in UCI Junior Series.

Pro XCT Standings through April 22, 2018

Elite Women

  1. Erin Huck (Boulder, Colo.) - 190 pts
  2. Catharine Pendrel (Kamloops, B.C.) - 114 pts
  3. Kate Courtney (Kentfield, Calif.) - 105 pts
  4. Annika Langvad (Denmark) - 80 pts
  5. Caroline Bohé(Denmark) - 74 pts

 

Elite Men

  1. Christopher Blevins (Durango, Colo.) - 160 pts
  2. Nicola Rohrbach (Switzerland) - 130 pts
  3. Andrew L’Esperance (Halifax, N.S.) - 120 pts
  4. Peter Disera (Horseshoe Valley, Ont.) - 85 pts
  5. Anton Cooper (New Zealand) - 80 pts