Short Track: Langvad Wins with a “Boom”

von Erhard Goller

Van der Poel Forgets the Pain
Annika Langvad und Jolanda Neff ©Sebastian Sternemann/EGO-Promotion

Annika Langvad and Mathieu van der Poel won the inaugural World Cup Short Track at the Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Albstadt. Van der Poel confidently won ahead of Sam Gaze and Mathias Flückiger after a thrilling race, while Danish rider Annika Langvad outmanoeuvred Swiss riders Jolanda Neff and Linda Indergand to second and third place respectively.


The Elite Women's race was characterized by tactics for 15 minutes before riders began to play their cards. An early escape attempt by Chloe Woodruff briefly animated the race but was ultimately unspectacular and quickly neutralized. For a long time, it was a fight for the best position going into the short technical passage; no one made great gains here, but losses were felt by bad positioning. Annie Last fell foul to this, having looked strong in the early stages. 


Kate Courtney, Gunn Rita Dahle Flesjaa and Pauline Ferrand-Prevot were also among those who looked in control in the first half of the race, but when the last of the nine laps began it was the Polish Champion, Maja Wloszczwoska, who accelerated out of the ten-member leading group to ignite the race. 

However, her strength was only enough to retain the lead for half the final lap. "Then it was over. I wanted to try, but in the end it was more of a lead out for Jolanda", said Wloszczowska, who was eighth in the end.


Jolanda Neff (Sui) actually took the lead and came first out of the forest onto the meadow, but there World Cup Leader, Annika Langvad (Den), showed all her qualities and passed by. On the final stretch, the Stellenbosch winner was able to raise her hands and celebrate the first Short Track World Cup victory of all time without the need to sprint.


Behind the Marathon World Champion it was the Swiss duo of Neff and Linda Indergand.


Annika Langvad: "I'm really happy. I already knew that my shape is good, but this is something completely different. It was already driven tactically and I stayed calm the whole time. And then suddenly it went, boom, boom!"


Jolanda Neff: "I think it's super cool that we are two Swiss women on the podium. Annika was stronger in the end, but I am very happy with second place. The race is unpredictable, you always have to be alert. On Sunday it will be another story."


Linda Indergand: "At the end I was on the back wheel of Jolanda, Annika on the other side. So I passed Maja, but not Jolanda. But of course, I am already happy with a podium."


Van der Poel calls it a “Tough Race Format”

The men's race started with great misfortune for a co-favourite. World Champion, Nino Schurter, had problems right from the start when his electronic gears had connection issues; he had no chance in the 25-minute race and abandoned the race in the fifth lap.

It was Mathieu van der Poel who set the pace for much of the race, indeed he was the main protagonist. He and Florian Vogel (Sui) managed to escape, but at half race distance it was too early for them to fully commit.


It was Manuel Fumic (Kirchheim / T.), the only German in the race, who could close the gap for the chasers. Unfortunately, it was of little positive consequence to Fumic who also experienced a technical problem. "The chain slipped down and I wonder how that happened. It’s a safe system and I'm just wondering if maybe someone rode into the back of me,” said Fumic afterwards. He had to get off the bike and thus lost connection with the lead group. In the end he could only manage 17th place. "That annoys me pretty much. I felt good and I can do such short races. I think the format is right, that's really great. "


With three laps to go Mathieu van der Poel established a gap. It happened suddenly, he said. “Then I just tried to make it to the finish and am really happy that I made it. This is a tough race format and with my scaphoid fracture it was extra hard. In the race you have so much adrenaline that you can forget the pain. I hope it gets better with the pain by Sunday."


Behind him came the fight for second place. Mathias Flückiger wanted to be the first in the singletrack, but Sam Gaze came before him. The New Zealander could then pull away and gave no chance for Flückiger to overtake on the finish straight.


"Mathieu was too strong, but I'm happy about a good race. It shows that my training over the past four weeks has worked," said Gaze, who crossed the finish three seconds behind van der Poel.


Mathias Flückiger was delighted with his podium finish. "Nobody here would have believed that I'm here on the podium," said Mathias Flückiger at the finish with a grin. "Neither do I."

The race even started badly for him. He was boxed in on the first lap and found himself down in 30th position.

He worked his way forward again and suddenly - successfully - fought for the podium in the final round.