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Gaze and Pieterse masters of the Short Track in Val di Sole

Friday in Daolasa in the name of the Alpecin-Deceuninck athletes: among the men Luca Braidot exalts the Italian public, but the last word belongs to the New Zealand World Champion. Pieterse outsprints Ferrand-Prevot in anticipation of the likely duel on Sunday. Finals tomorrow Downhill on the legendary Black Snake.

Sam Gaze celebrates in Val di Sole in the World Champion jersey (Credits: Michele Mondini);

That the great mountain bike athletes love Val di Sole can be understood from their looks as they parade through the Daolasa di Commezzadura competition field, relax to the sound of the waters of the Noce stream or immerse themselves in the welcome and warmth of the Italian public.

Source: press release

When you start to get serious, however, smiles become masks of concentration and competitive energy: in cycling the great classics are those races in which winning is worth something more, and Val di Sole can show off that status with pride.

Puck Pieterse won the Elite Women's Short Track ahead of World Champion Pauline Ferrand-Prèvot (Credits: Michele Mondini)

There was a different atmosphere on Friday 14 June, the first day of the WHOOP UCI Mountain Bike World Series weekend, and it was seen on the track: already with the semi-finals, the Black Snake provided emotions that promise great challenges in the final round of on Saturday, and the Short Track races offered very high-speed duels, as perhaps never before this season over the short distance of Cross Country.

New Zealander Sam Gaze, World Champion, won Cross Country Short Track, and the Dutch Puck Pieterse, someone who had already managed to win in Val di Sole in Cross Country and also in the Cyclocross on the snow of Vermiglio: en-plein for the Alpecin-Deceuninck team, who is having fun and celebrating even without Van der Poel, who dreams of and prepares for the Olympics on the road.

Puck Pieterse immediately took the lead in the women's Short Track with Chiara Teocchi close behind (Credits: Giacomo Podetti)

Both had to earn the crown right down to the last metres, in two races in which all the heavy calibers responded, from Ferrand-Prevot, second and narrowly beaten, to the inevitable Nino Schurter, fourth also in the format he least likes compared to the Olympic discipline: on Sunday there will be fun, and the Val di Sole public knows how to do it.

Among those who responded present there was also Luca Braidot, who with a courageous action launched the first real ring of his season: six weeks from Paris, coach Celestino is also smiling.

LUCA BRAIDOT TRIES, SAM GAZE SUCCEED

If the Short Track in Val di Sole has changed its face, with a much faster and more streamlined track, designed entirely in the lower part of the Daolasa race field, for the maximum enjoyment of the many spectators already present on Friday of the Cup, it has not changed however the antiphon. Even with a less significant difference in altitude, between accelerations, jerks and braking, Val di Sole has once again provided the hardest Short Track of the season, at least so far.

In the men's field, the race lived according to a constant score: full throttle and selection from behind. The variation on the theme, after four laps, was offered by Luca Braidot (Santa Cruz), and perhaps not many were expecting it. The Friulian twin did not have the happiest of starts to the season, and was expected at a signal with a view of the five rings of Paris. Braidot went ahead by taking advantage of the sharp curves of the Trentino track, relaunching and taking advantage of the uncertainty of the men behind him.

Luca Braidot tried to get ahead in the men's Short Track (Credits: Giacomo Podetti)

To get it back it took a lunge from Filippo Colombo followed by his teammate Nino Schurter, someone who in Val di Sole feels like he is in his own living room, with eight trophies to admire on the board of the best days. Nine laps of eleven, and it all has to be done again.

At the decisive moment, six athletes emerged from the head of the peloton, Gaze (Alpecin), Koretzky (Specialized), Schuermans (Giant), Fini (Lapierre), Colombo and Schurter (Scott SRAM). The sextet competed in the Short Track sprint, a sprint that had a clear favourite: arms raised and rainbow on the chest, Sam Gaze had time to savor Daolasa's scream. Place of honor for the leader of the specialty classification Victor Koretzky, ahead of the Belgian Jens Schuermans and the Swiss Nino Schurter.

“It turned out to be a tougher race than expected, I'm happy to have hit the mark and with the sensations I had,” commented Sam Gaze immediately. – “For our team, the weekend couldn't have started in a better way. I believe that in the last stages the focus of many was above all on the race on Sunday, the cross country, perhaps saving some energy in the Short Track. Today, however, everyone's goal was to do the race, and do it to the max. Racing in Val di Sole is always fantastic, I can't wait to race the Cross Country on Sunday on the new route. The fans here are always special.”

The first of the Italians, Daniele Braidot (CS Carabinieri), was eighteenth, just ahead of his twin Luca who paid for the effort made in the first part of the race in the final rush.

“I'm finally starting to feel better,” underlined Braidot, “I wanted to show that I'm not here to race in the positions I've occupied in the last few races. I'm sure Sunday will be another race. Today I attacked hoping that someone would come with me, so that at least two of us could try: when I was left alone I realized it would be hard. I knew the race would get very challenging towards the end, and when it exploded I couldn't stand it anymore, but I finally feel very, very confident for Sunday.”

MEN'S ELITE RANKING

1.GAZE Samuel (ALPECIN-DECEUNINCK)19:02
2.KORETZKY Victor (SPECIALIZED FACTORY RACING)19:03
+1
3.SCHUERMANS Jens (GIANT FACTORY OFF-ROAD TEAM – XC)19:03
+1
4.SCHURTER Nino (SCOTT-SRAM MTB RACING TEAM)19:03
+1
5.COLUMBUS Philip (SCOTT-SRAM MTB RACING TEAM)19:04
+2
6.FINI CARSTENSENSebastian (LAPIERRE MAVIC UNITY)19:10
+8
7.SARROU Jordan (TEAM BMC)19:11
+9
8.HATHERLY Alan (CANNONDALE FACTORY RACING)19:12
+10
9.DE FROIDMONT Pierre (ORBEA FACTORY TEAM)19:14
+12
10.FLÜCKIGER Mathias (THOMUS MAXON)19:15
+13
COMPLETE RANKING
GENERAL WORLD CUP

PIETERSE WINS THE FIRST ROUND AGAINST FERRAND-PREVOT

It was the most awaited challenge, both in the Short Track and in the Cross Country, and so far it has lived up to expectations. Puck Pieterse and Pauline Ferrand-Prèvot started a rustic duel on the new Short Track course in Val di Sole.

The Dutchman from Alpecin-Deuceninck, winner of the 2023 race Cross Country, left the INEOS-Grenadiers World Champion behind her thanks to a regal sprint that allowed her to win the shortest race in Val di Sole for the first time.

After a rocket start by the Italian Chiara Teocchi, Puck Pieterse took command of the situation on the fourth lap, despite not making a difference on the rest of the competition. The situation of balance continued until the last round, when the Dutchman and his transalpine rival managed to make the difference in the uphill section. The World Champion approached the final straight in first position, but Puck Pieterse had an easy time overtaking her a few meters from the finish line.

The American Savilia Blunk (Decathlon) ranked third ahead of the South African Candice Lill and the Swiss Alessandra Keller (Thomus Maxon), still leader of the specialty ranking. The first of the Italians was eighth, Chiara Teocchi (Orbea Factory), fourteenth Greta Seiwald (Decathlon), sixteenth Giada Specia (Wilier-Vittoria).

“I had a tactical plan: to race head-on and I succeeded in my aim,” said Puck Pieterse. – “I'm happy for the success achieved, it wasn't easy. The finale with Pauline was very competitive but I think I was good at interpreting the final sprint in the best possible way."

Puck Pieterse celebrates the arrival of Val di Sole (Credits: Michele Mondini)

The Short Tracks of the U23 category rewarded two of the most promising young people in international mountain biking, Bjorn Riley and Kira Böhm.

The American from Team Trek Future Racing managed to shake off all his rivals, starting from his compatriot Riley Amos (Trek Factory Racing), who finished in second place ahead of the Ukrainian Oleksandr Hudyma (KMC Riley).

The German Kira Böhm (Cube Factory Racing), a true dominator of the specialty, instead left the Canadian duo behind in the sprint, with Isabella Holmgren in second position ahead of Emilly Johnson (Trek Future Racing). Little glory for the blue colours: Elian Paccagnella (Wilier Vittoria) finished in fifteenth position, Valentina Corvi (Santa Cruz) in eleventh.

FEMALE ELITE RANKING

1.* PIETERSE Puck (ALPECIN-DECEUNINCK)19:24
2.FERRAND PREVOT Pauline (INEOS GRENADIERS)19:25
+1
3.BLUNK Savilia (DECATHLON FORD RACING TEAM)19:29
+5
4.LILL Candice19:30
+6
5.KELLER Alexandra (THOMUS MAXON)19:37
+13
6.FREI Sina (SPECIALIZED FACTORY RACING)19:38
+14
7.HENDERSON Rebecca (PRIMAFLOR MONDRAKER RACING TEAM)19:38
+14
8.TEOCCHI Clare (ORBEA FACTORY TEAM)19:38
+14
9.INDERGAND Linda (LIV FACTORY RACING)19:40
+16
10.* MITTERWALLNER Mona (CANNONDALE FACTORY RACING)19:40
+16
COMPLETE RANKING
GENERAL WORLD CUP


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