Nash, Batty round out podium in Val di Sole
Despite intense heat that saw many riders wilt, the leader in the cross-country mountain bike World Cup extended her lead in the elite women’s series at Val di Sole, Italy. Tanja Zakelj (Unior Tools) now holds a commanding lead in the overall standings at the halfway mark of the 2013 World Cup series.
The Val di Sole course is renowned for steep climbs, technical singletrack and hot, humid conditions; and this year was no different. Riders that went out hard early in the races were fading by the halfway point, and those who had played a tactical game then moved to the front.
In the elite women’s six-lap race, defending World Cup overall champion Catharine Pendrel (Luna) blazed off the front, opening a 15-second gap on Zakelj, Katerina Nash (Luna) and Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Multivan Merida). However, by the second lap the other three had caught her, and the Canadian faded to eventually finish sixth.
Zakelj and Nash had dropped Dahle Flesjaa and Pendrel by the end of lap three, and the pair rode together at the front for a lap before Nash attacked. The Czech rider carved out a slim eight-second lead, which she held into the final lap, but then also faded in the final half lap to finish 20 seconds down on Zakelj. Emily Batty (Trek World Racing), moving up steadily all race, moved into third on the fourth lap, and held it to the line.
“This course fits me well,” said Zakelj. “Yes, I suffered so much; the uphills are very steep, but I am very fit now. I have my fan club here and from this race I have great memories. I always do great here.
“I didn’t expect to win again, because there are so many strong girls, but of course I was ready to win. After Katerina [Nash] was in front on the last lap, I was prepared for second place, so i was surprised when I caught her again. Now I have the mental feeling that I am at the top so I am always ready to win.”