The second round of the Eliminator series of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup presented by Shimano saw new faces on the top step of the podium, at Nove Mesto na Morave in the Czech Republic on Friday.Â Jenny Rissveds (Swedish National) dominated the women's event, while Kenta Gallagher (Superior Brentjens) won a men's final plagued by mechanical problems.Â World champion Alexandra Engen (Ghost Factory) continues to lead the women's overall standings, as does Daniel Federspiel (Otztal Scott) for the men.
The Nove Mesto course was very different from the first round, in Albstadt, Germany, last week.Â Where the opening round was very technical, running through city streets, this week incorporated parts of the cross-country circuit, with a rock garden and long climb, requiring power and endurance.
Rissveds, who had been favoured to make the final in the first round before crashing in the semifinal there, had a clean run through to Final with the exception of her quarterfinal race, when she had to play catch up from last place after slipping a pedal in the start.
For the final, Rissveds was up against round one winner and world champion Engen, Kathrin Stirnemann (Sabine Spitz Haibike) and World Cup cross-country leader Eva Lechner (Colnago Sudtirol).Â The group rode together through the opening jumps and rock garden, and then Rissveds made her move on the long paved climb halfway through the 1070 metre circuit, attacking to get the lead as the riders headed into singletrack.
"Jenny was too strong," admitted Engen.Â "She attacked at the top of hill and I just couldn't get on her wheel.Â She was fastest today.Â This is a course that you can be tactical on and wait until later in the race, but Jenny was just too strong."
Rissveds cruised in for the win, while Engen lost a close sprint for second to Stirnemann.Â "My tactic was to be powerful at the beginning and look back at technical section to see if anyone was there," Rissveds explained.Â "It wasn't easy, but I think my tactic was the best today.Â The course had everything - tech sections and you had to be powerful on the climb.Â The crash last week gave me some motivation, but I was also a little bit nervous because of it."
Engen retains the overall lead with 90 points, with Rissveds in second 10 points back, tied for points with Stirnemann.
The men's competition saw a number of the favourites exit early or suffer mechanical problems, opening the door for some relatively unknown riders to shine.Â RaphaÃ«l Gagne (Canadian National), fourth in round one, did not qualify for the final 32 riders.Â World champion Ralph NÃ¤f (BMC) crashed in his first heat and did not finish.Â Thomas Litscher (Multivan Merida) false started in the quarterfinal round and was relegated.Â Round one winner and World Cup leader Federspiel, while sprinting in his semifinal round, had a mechanical with his rear derailleur and had to settle for fifth.
The men's final had only one rider from the previous round's final - Slovenia's Miha Halzer, who qualified first and looked to be the favourite in the final.Â Halzer was joined by Gallagher, and two German riders, Christian PfÃ¤ffle and Simon Gegenheimer.Â Halzer went out early with a broken derailleur, followed by Gegenheimer with a flat tire.Â This left Gallagher and PfÃ¤ffle to sprint, and the British rider Gallagher played it smart, staying behind his rival until the final 150 metres, before coming around to win by a bike length.
"Going into the final race I knew I would be on the podium," commented Gallagher.Â "But after [Halzer and Gegenheimer] had mechanicals, I knew first was possible.Â So when Christian went to the front I got on his wheel and then came around at the end.Â I think maybe he went out to early.Â I always knew I had a good sprint; I used to do downhill."
Federspiel leads the men's standings after two rounds with 80 points, followed by Gallagher and PfÃ¤ffle, both with 60 points.