The XCO track near Trento has featured on the international calendar for many years but the 2019 incarnation was perhaps the toughest yet. Climbs had been lengthened and rocks exposed to ensure that Sunday’s XCO race would be amongst the toughest of the year.
In the elite women’s race, riders warmed up in ice vests as temperatures began to soar. Heavy rain earlier in the weekend insured that the track conditions were virtually perfect with enough grip left in the earth without the dreaded arrival of dust clouds.
Pauline Ferrand-Prevot was in no mood for hanging around and attacked right from the start. She left her rivals in her wake with the closest to her being Jolanda Neff and Jenny Rissveds.
At one stage the gap was out to 48 seconds but with two laps to go Neff set off after the leader. With one lap to go the Swiss rider, still seeking her first win of the season, was right on her multi-titled rivals wheel.
But Ferrand-Prevot recognised that she needed to be in front at the top of the last descent and fended off an attack to drop in with her nose just in front. They arrived on to the final straight together and when Neff kicked in attack Ferrand-Prevot once again covered her off and rode home to her first win since Windham 2015. Rissveds held on to secure a superb third place.
Nino Schurter has won more races in the North of Italy than anyone else and started the day undoubtedly amongst the favourites. But the Dutchman Mathieu Van Der Poel had other ideas.
The newly-crowned European champion attacked early and by the end of the first few laps was in a group of three with Schurter and Mathias Flueckiger. Schurter let the pair in front of him trade blows and looked as though he may have been keeping his powder dry but when the Dutchman attacked on the first climb of the last lap, the Swiss ride could not keep up.
Van Der Poel rode home to his second XCO win of the year and his second of the weekend having already tasted victory in Friday night’s short track XCC race. Flueckiger managed to gap the reigning World Champ to take second place whilst Schurter rode home to third.