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Amos wins cross-country U-23, Vermette and Blunk score podiums at World Cup

Fourth round of cross-country, short track and downhill was at Val di Sole
Riley Amos celebrates after winning the U-23 men's cross-country Olympic race at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Val di Sole, Trentino, Italy on Sunday. (Photo by Ross Bell)

It has been an exciting week for Durango’s Riley Amos and Christopher Blevins and Durango resident Savilia Blunk. The three mountain bike racers were officially named members of the United States Olympic Mountain Bike team by USA Cycling on June 11for this summer’s Olympic Games in Paris.

But before they get to Paris, UCI Mountain Bike World Cup events continue as the hunt for the World Cup title continues.

This past weekend the top mountain bikers in the world were in Val di Sole, Trentino, Italy, for the fourth round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup downhill, cross-country Olympic and short track Olympic events.

Amos took care of business on Sunday in the men’s U-23 cross-country Olympic race. He finished six laps around the 2.3-mile circuit in 1 hour, 8 minutes and 9 seconds to come in first place. Amos finished nine seconds ahead of his Trek Factory Racing teammate Bjorn Riley.

It was Amos’ fourth consecutive U-23 cross-country Olympic win this season to remain undefeated in the category.

Amos was undefeated coming into Val di Sole also in short track but finished second on Friday.

Bjorn got the best of Amos in short track and beat the Durangoan by five seconds. Bjorn’s winning time was 19:23. Amos was near the front for the whole race but couldn’t stick with Bjorn at the end.

“Halfway through the World Cup season now,” Amos wrote on Instagram. “In my wildest dreams I never could have imagined the first half going like this. The crazier part to me is that every time it’s been so damn close. The fight and the level you push yourself to physically to in a World Cup is definitely above anything else. I’ll always fight with 100%, but it’s hard to describe the level of energy it takes mentally to get to that finish line when everything in your body is screaming at you that there is nothing left and you’re winning with one lap to go.”

Riley Amos crosses the finish line as the winner of the men's U-23 cross-country Olympic race at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Val di Sole, Trentino, Italy, on Sunday. (Photo by Ross Bell)

Durango’s Asa Vermette bounced back after his crash in Leogang, Austria, the week before to finish second in the men’s junior downhill at Val di Sole on Saturday.

Vermette finished with a time of 3:51.623 after ripping through the 1.4-mile downhill track.

France’s Max Aldron finished first with a 3:49.230. Vermette still leads the men’s junior downhill individual standings after four rounds.

Vermette started slower in the first split like he usually does. He had a huge moment early on where he almost crashed but Vermette corrected himself and carried on. This moment cost him some time in the first split. He picked up the pace through the second split and had the fastest time. Vermette was fastest in the third and fourth splits before crossing the line to finish to hold the top spot.

Unfortunately for Vermette, Aldron went after him and had a great first split which put him 2 seconds over Vermette and Aldron was able to hold that gap and take the win.

Blunk had a solid weekend and started very well by finishing third in the women’s elite short track race on Friday. She finished with a 19:29 which was five seconds behind winner Puck Pieterse and four seconds behind second-place Pauline Ferrand Prevot.

On Sunday, Blunk took fifth place in the women’s elite cross-country Olympic race. Blunk crossed the finish line with a 1:22:54. Ferrand Prevot won the race with a 1:21:04.

Savilia Blunk rides in the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Val di Sole, Trentino, Italy, this past weekend. Blunk finished third in the women's elite short track race and fifth in the women's elite cross-country Olympic race. (Photo by Noam Meresse)

“Thank you Val Di Sole,” Blunk wrote on Instagram. “What a weekend racing in front of these rowdy Italian crowds. My first time starting and staying (close to) the front the whole race, a lot of wins this weekend pushing the needle forward. Big thanks to the team for running things smooth all weekend.”

Durango’s Christopher Blevins was also in Italy for the World Cup but couldn’t replicate the success he had earlier in the World Cup season in Brazil.

Blevins finished 14th men’s elite short track race out of 38 finishers as he was never able to get to the front of the field and was in the middle of the pack for the whole race.

Samuel Gaze won the men’s elite short track race with a 19:02. Blevins came across the finish line at 19:17.

On Sunday, Blevins continued to struggle and finished 26th out of 96 finishersn with a time of 1:21:56. Nino Schurter crossed the finish to take the win at 1:18:25.

“Val di Sol - favorite place to hang out during a race week, but a tough course when you're not fully firing, and it do be like that sometimes,” Blevins wrote on Instagram. “No stellar results from this one, but tried to prioritize the training block in the week and did a good job of that. Happy to be back in some of the nicest mountains in Europe for the next few weeks!”

Another Durangoan at the Val di Sol World Cup was Lauren Aggeler. She raced in the women’s U-23 cross-country Olympic race and came in 48th out of 74 finishers. Aggeler finished a lap down.

In the same race, Durango’s Bailey Cioppa finished 50th also finishing a lap down.

bkelly@durangoherald.com