The Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Chronicle
– What happened? –
The opening downhill round of the 2018 Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup brought the top gravity riders in the world to the new venue of Losinj, Croatia, on the weekend of April 20-22. The island in the northern Adriatic Sea is a popular tourist destination.
Both the women's and men's overall 2017 UCI World Cup winners Myriam Nicole and Aaron Gwin held onto their Number 1 plates with convincing wins on the short and demanding track. Riders started with a fast open section at the top of the Sveti Ivan (St John) hill that led into difficult rocky terrain, before spilling out of the woods into the final narrow urban alleys of Veli Losinj to finish at the harbour.
Cécile Ravanel of France set the first sub-2:50 time for the women, before Tahnée Seagrave (Transition/MUC-Off) knocked almost four seconds off the lead with five riders remaining. Two riders later, 2017 overall winner Myriam Nicole (Commencal/Vallnord) demolished that time with 2:40.706. Australia's Tracey Hannah (Polygon UR) crashed, leaving only the fastest qualifier, Rachel Atherton (Trek Factory), to beat Nicole. Atherton was fastest at the first split but then lost time through the technical rocky sections and could only manage second. It is Nicole's fourth UCI World Cup victory. Valentia Holl of Austria won the Junior women's competition.
The men's race saw American Dakotah Norton (Unior/Devinci) set a time that stood up through all the top riders until the final five began their runs. Norton's countryman Luca Shaw (Santa Cruz Syndicate) became the first to go under 2:20 to take the lead, and his time held through the next two riders until defending overall winner Aaron Gwin (The YT Mob) started with two riders to go. Gwin was fastest at the second split by 1.3 seconds, increasing that to over two seconds by the third split. Despite losing some time at the bottom of the run, he went on to win by 0.798 seconds and take his 20th World Cup victory; only one behind Greg Minnaar's (Santa Cruz Syndicate) record of 21 wins. Final starter Dean Lucas (Intense Factory) slotted in behind the two Americans in third place. The Junior men's winner was Thibaut Daprela (Commencal/Vallnord).
– What's next? –
Albstadt (GER), XCO World Cup #2 > May 18-20
– Photo of the week –
– Focus on Luca Shaw –
American Luca Shaw had his best-ever UCI World Cup result as an Elite man in the opening downhill round of the 2018 Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Losinj, Croatia, finishing second to countryman Aaron Gwin. Shaw rides for the Santa Cruz Syndicate and has had one other Elite podium, fifth at Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada, in 2016. As a Junior in 2014, he had two World Cup victories (Pietermaritzburg and Mont-Sainte-Anne), before joining the Elite ranks in 2015. He finished the 2017 UCI World Cup season in 13th place overall, including three top-10 results.
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