If you missed the World Cup action this weekend due to Memorial Day festivities, you’ll be in for a surprise when you check out the results list. We haven’t seen our American women performing at this level, this consistently, in decades. If you want to watch the races for yourself, go ahead a do it now. Spoilers are coming. And they’re really, really impressive.
American Women Dominate Opening Rounds of World Cup
Kate Courtney’s World Championship win last fall ended a nearly three decade long drought for American women in the rainbow stripes. To stay at that level, though, Courtney would need to show some incredible class to keep beating the likes of Jolanda Neff, Annika Langvad, and the other perennial XC favorites on the World Cup circuit.
At the opening round in Albastadt, that’s exactly what Courtney did. She took the win at the opening round’s XCO race, and secured vital points in the short track, quickly marking herself as the rider to beat for the 2019 season – and doing it all in the rainbow stripes of the World Champion.
But it was this weekend’s results that really has American fans buzzing. After consistent finishes in the XCC races on Friday nights last year and in the first round of 2019, Iceman fan-favorite Chloe Woodruff took the win in the XCC on Friday night in the Czech Republic, with Kate Courtney in fourth. Woodruff won in style, gapping the rest of the field with a blistering attack with three laps to go to win going-away against the fastest women in the world. A resurgent Lea Davison rolled back the years to finish 21st, despite a nearly back row start.
Haley Batten Delivers on Talent
On Saturday’s U23 race, American Haley Batten delivered on years of hype as a junior to take a convincing win in a U23 field that’s overflowing with talent. Batten has been tipped as the future of the American mountain bike program, and has put in excellent results at Pan Ams, domestic races, and on the World Cup circuit for years. At the U23 level, her win on Saturday showed that American fans can begin to hope for years of success from the young Batten, as well as from current star Kate Courtney.
The Ladies Sweep the Czech Republic
I’m sure the Swiss have done it at some point, but I’m doubtful the American women have ever swept each event at a World Cup weekend before. I’d venture a guess that the American men have never come close. But with Kate Courtney’s come-from-behind win on Sunday, the American women won the Elite XCC, the U23 race, and the Elite XCO to plant an American flag in the Czech soil for all the mountain bike world to see. And it wasn’t one-off efforts from the American women. Our crop is showing true depth, with Davison taking 12th, and Woodruff coming home in 20th to put three American riders in the top 20.
This is Huge for American Women’s Mountain Biking
What does this success mean for American cycling? In short, a lot. Going into an Olympic year in 2020, good results mean big points for Olympic qualifying. The better the American women do, the higher they’ll be in the UCI rankings, meaning more American riders can qualify for the Olympics. The Olympics provide a huge amount of exposure for the sport of mountain biking, and a good showing will help get more women here in the U.S. excited about mountain biking. If there was a year for American women to shine at the World Cups, this is the year to do it. And based on the first two rounds, American fans should have plenty to cheer for as the rest of the World Cup season comes along.
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