The third stop of Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup got underway Friday with the short-track cross-country races in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic. A week after sickness held him back in Albstadt, Germany, Durangoan Christopher Blevins of Specialized Factory Racing was back in the hunt in the XCC race.
Blevins was near the lead the for all 11 laps, and finished the race with his fastest lap: 1 minute, 52 seconds.
Germany’s Luca Schwarbauer of Canyon CLLCTV, however, made a strong move at the end to pull away from a tight pack and win the race by two seconds in 22 minutes, 40 seconds. Blevins finished three seconds after Schwarbauer in fifth.
“Back in the groove! 5th today in XCC and looking forward to the fight on Sunday,” Blevins posted after the race on Instagram.
Blevins will race in the cross-country Olympic race on Sunday.
Former Fort Lewis cyclist Savilia Blunk (Orange Seal) will also race Sunday in the elite women’s cross-country race while Duangoan Riley Amos (Trek Factory Racing) will race Saturday in the U23 men’s cross-country Olympic race.
Blunk raced in her first elite World Cup last week in Albstadt, Germany, and ended up placing 44th out of 83 competitors in wet and muddy conditions. She finished in 1:28:57, 9:18 behind the winner, Rebecca McConnell of Australia and Primaflor Mondraker Genuns.
“This was not my best,” Blunk posted. “Not much to say about today’s WC, I just had an off day, and when you can’t bring your 110% at this level you just can’t be competitive.”
Blunk, however, seemed to be enjoying the track in Nove Mesto. “Weeeeeww! had such a fun day on course I almost forgot it was a race course and was thinking I was on one of the best rides,” she posted Thursday. “It’s been 2 or 3 years since we’ve gotten to race here with such dry conditions and it really makes it fun (although sliding in the mud is a different category of fun), it opens up so many line options and we get to really test the small details in our equipment.”
Blevins only raced in the short track race in Germany, and finished 37th in 22:43, 1:09 behind the winner, New Zealand’s Samuel Gaze (Apecin-Fenix). Blevins did not race in the cross-country Olympic race due to his cold.
“Definitely wasn’t my weekend here in Albstadt,” Blevins posted. “I’ve been fighting a cold all week and the body just couldn’t come around … next weekend is another chance!”
Amos, meanwhile, placed eighth out of 151 bikers in Albstadt’s U23 cross-country race, crossing in 1:11:30, just 1:29 behind the winner, Chilean Martin Vidaurre Kossmann (Lexware Mountain Bike Team). There are no short-track U23 races in the World Cup circuit.