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Stigger Powers To Victory In XCC Race To Start Cross-Country Season

Laura Stigger of Austria was triumphant in a thrilling finish in the women’s XCC race at the UCI Mountain Bike World Series 2023. The exciting new series features the biggest disciplines in the sport – cross-country Olympic, cross-country short track, cross-country marathon, downhill, enduro and E-enduro. The race kicked off the cross-country season in style with a breathless finish.

A sensational ride from Austria’s Laura Stigger (Specialized Factory Racing) saw her storm to victory in the UCI Cross-country Short Track World Cup women’s elite race, as part of the UCI Mountain Bike World Series on Friday.

An enthralling finish played out as Stigger sprinted for the line as Alessandra Keller (Thomus Maxon) and Sina Frei (Specialized Factory Racing) completed the podium just behind the victorious Stigger.

Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (Ineos Grenadiers), who was one of the pre-race favourites for glory, and Britain’s Evie Richards (Trek Factory Racing XC) were also just +0.01 behind Stigger in the bunch finish.

Reigning overall champion from last year Keller started off strongly and was eager to get underway. She took the lead multiple times in the laps that followed. It was Haley Batten (Specialized Factory Racing) however who was the first to complete the opening lap.

Despite the course being dry this morning, the rain that had made an appearance prior to the start and the now damp course took its first victims with Martina Berta (Santa Cruz – RockShox Pro Team) and Rebecca Henderson (Primaflor Mondraker Genuins Racing Team) both involved in an early crash in the second lap. The pair fortunately recovered well to stay in contention for the laps that remained.

As the group approached the final corner before the line for the second time, it was Ferrand-Prevot who was in control. She led the group across the line and down the steps to the second corner.

Soon after it was Loana Lecomte’s (Canyon CLLCTV) turn at the front of the group. The overall UCI World Cup winner from 2021 was then overtaken by Keller who returned to the lead position.

It was then all change again at the front as Caroline Bohé (Ghost Factory Racing) took control of the group. She was soon replaced by American national champion and former world champion Kate Courtney (SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing Team) who looked particularly strong towards the end of fifth lap and into the sixth.

Before long British rider Richards took the lead and ultimately had an impressive few final laps. She held her lead well with Keller alongside her as the race intensified. Jenny Rissveds (Team 31–Ibis Continental) briefly took over before Richards moved ahead again and crossed the line first with two laps remaining. With Keller in second and Ferrand-Prevot third, the penultimate lap began.

Richards remained in the lead in the eighth lap of nine and successfully navigated the tricky final corner to cross the line first and take the lead going into the final lap.

After the steps, Keller saw her opportunity to go round the outside on the first corner. Stigger stayed in hot pursuit of last year’s overall champion, a move that would ultimately set her up well for the win. Henderson, who recovered well from the early crash, also had an impressive final lap.

Keller led well into the last corner, but Stigger remained close behind. As they approached the home straight, the Austrian timed her sprint perfectly to overtake Keller and storm to victory in the first short track of the UCI Mountain Bike World Series.

Keller finished soon behind her with fellow Swiss rider Frei completing the podium. Impressive individual rides from both Ferrand-Prevot and Richards put them in fourth and fifth respectively.

Stigger’s win puts her into the primary position on the start line for Sunday’s Cross-country Olympic race in the leader’s jersey.

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