Reduced from seven scheduled rounds to two due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 UCI Mountain Bike Eliminator World Cup powered by Kuwait nevertheless delivered an exciting final in Barcelona, Spain, at the weekend.
Round 1 winners in Waregem, Belgium, in September, Gaia Tormena (ITA) and Jeroen van Eck (NED) were back in the starting blocks in Barcelona looking to again dominate the Women Elite and Men Elite competitions.
They did not disappoint.
Women Elite - Tormena strikes again
After dominating the 2019 season, 2020 European Champion Gaia Tormena won the first 2020 UCI World Cup round in Waregem but missed out on her second rainbow jersey at the UCI Mountain Bike Eliminator World Championships in Leuven, Belgium, three weeks ago: it took a photo finish in the final to declare France’s Isaure Medde the winner.
Tormena was out for revenge in Barcelona and took it in style. Fastest in the qualifying time trials, she eased through the semi-finals to secure her place in the finals, where she soloed to the win ahead of Marion Fromberger (GER), and two Spanish athletes Sara Gay Moreno and Sara Mendez Belanga.
“I couldn’t be happier after narrowly missing out on the rainbow jersey in Leuven last month,” said the 18-year-old Italian after her clean sweep of the 2020 UCI World Cup rounds. “I only had a few days off the bike after the UCI World Championships to restart training for Barcelona. I believe it’s time for some rest now, but I can’t wait to be back next year!”
Men Elite: Jeroen van Eck's second victory
In the men’s competition, the Netherlands’ Jeroen van Eck also made it two out of two in this year’s UCI World Cup.
After qualifying through the early rounds in Barcelona, nothing was going to stop the Dutch rider in the four-up final. Van Eck quickly took the lead and kept his position throughout the race to claim his second victory of the season. Fastest qualifier Lorenzo Serres (FRA) finished second in a sprint against Germany’s Simon Gegenheimer. Surprise fourth place went to four-time mountain bike downhill UCI World Champion (2015, 2017, 2018, 2019) Loïc Bruni (FRA).
Van Eck was delighted to finish the season on a high note: “After a disappointing UCI World Championships last month (9th) I started focusing on Barcelona as my next goal. I’m happy to finish off the season with another victory,” he said.
Meanwhile four-time and reigning UCI World Champion Titouan Perrin-Ganier (FRA) had to make do with fifth place: he won the small final after being forced to pull out of the semi-finals due to a mechanical failure.
“It might have been a challenging season in uncertain times, but we’ve seen in the last couple of months that you can stage world-class sporting events in a safe environment,” stated Managing Director of the hosts City Mountainbike Kristof Bruyneel. “The success of these events gives us and the entire sports movement a lot of confidence for our upcoming events in 2021 and beyond.”