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2024 WHOOP UCI MOUNTAIN BIKE WORLD SERIES USA ARE ON THE UP AND CHALLENGING THE STATUS QUO

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2024 WHOOP UCI MOUNTAIN BIKE WORLD SERIES USA ARE ON THE UP AND CHALLENGING THE STATUS QUO

2 months ago

When you think of cross-country mountain biking masters, your mind is likely drawn to Switzerland and France. Nino Schurter (Scott-SRAM MTB Racing Team) and Mathias Flückiger (Thömus Maxon) have ensured that there hasn’t been a non-Swiss overall series winner in UCI Cross-country World Cup (XCO) since 2016, while although less clear cut-in the women’s field, France’s Loana Lecomte (Canyon CLLCTV XCO), Switzerland’s Jolanda Neff (Trek Factory Racing-Pirelli) and Alessandra Keller (Thömus Maxon) share five wins between them over the last decade.

If results in the first two rounds of the WHOOP UCI Mountain Bike World Series in Brazil are anything to go by though, that European hegemony might just about to be broken. And it’s the USA who are getting in on the action.

 

THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION

At the opening UCI World Cup of the 2024 series in Mairiporã, Christopher Blevins (Specialized Factory Racing) concluded a captivating weekend of racing by edging a nail-biting thriller in the men’s cross-country Olympic race. His success followed four top-ten places for American riders in the women’s XCO race – including second and third for Savilia Blunk (Decathlon Ford Racing Team) and Haley Batten (Specialized Factory Racing) respectively – and a dominant double from Riley Amos (Trek Factory Racing-Pirelli) in the men’s under 23 XCO and UCI Cross-Country Short Track (XCC) World Cups.

The American revolution continued the following weekend at the second round in Araxá, Haley Batten doing the XCO and XCC double in the women’s field and Riley Amos repeating his feat from Mairiporã and proving why he’s one of the most exciting cross-country talents around. While Blevins couldn’t make it a whitewash for US riders in Araxá, the 26-year-old made an impressive recovery in the XCO – crashing on the opening lap to find himself dead last before passing 80 riders to finish a respectable 22nd.

While there has been some US success in recent times – most notably Kate Courtney’s 2018 UCI World Championships gold medal and UCI World Cup overall series win in 2019 – the two UCI Cross-country World Cup events in Brazil are the best showing from the country’s athletes since their dominance in the early 1990s, when Ned Overend, John Tomac and Juli Furtado were the trailblazers in the burgeoning off-road discipline. 

After two rounds, Haley Batten and Riley Amos find themselves at the top of both the Elite women’s and men’s U23 XCO and XCC tables respectively, while Christopher Blevins sits in third place in the men’s XCO table.

OLYMPIC IMPACT

The impact of these impressive performances from the American riders is more far-reaching than this year’s WHOOP UCI Mountain Bike World Series though, as they will also determine how many spots the US has in the Paris 2024 mountain bike event.

At the Olympics, there are a maximum of two spots per country. Countries ranked one to eight get the maximum two, while those ranked nine to 19 just get one. The qualification period cut-off is after the WHOOP UCI Mountain Bike World Series in Nové Město na Moravě, Czech Republic, at the end of May, so every UCI point counts between now and then.

WHOOP UCI Mountain Bike World Series in Nové Město na Moravě, Czech Republic

Before the start of this year’s WHOOP UCI Mountain Bike World Series, USA sat in 10th and 4th spot in the men’s and women’s nation rankings respectively. But following the UCI points windfall in Brazil, they have shot up to 5th and 3rd, practically securing Olympic places for the maximum four athletes in Paris.

While there is a month’s break between the next UCI World Cup in Nové Město na Moravě, you can expect the US riders to continue to lead the charge and challenge the establishment at the top of the rankings next time out in the Czech Republic.

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