LES GETS, France (AP) — European champion Mathias Flueckiger and French standout Loana Lecomte won the final mountain bike World Cup races before the Tokyo Games on Sunday, solidifying their status as favorites to win Olympic gold later this month.
Flueckiger had the preferred starting position after winning the short-course race on Friday and controlled the entire race in wet, muddy conditions. Ondrej Cink tried to pull him back on a couple of late climbs but finished 25 seconds back in second place. World champion Jordan Sarrou edged out Alan Hatherly for the final spot on the podium.
Flueckiger’s second straight World Cup win came the same day Mathieu van der Poel, who wore the yellow jersey for a week at the Tour de France, abandoned the stage race to focus on his own preparations for the Olympic mountain bike race.
In the women’s race, Lecomte continued her perfect run through four rounds of World Cup races by beating Olympic champ Jenny Rissveds by nearly a minute in another dominant performance. Evie Richards finished third with world champ Pauline Ferrand-Prevote fourth, nearly 2 minutes behind her countrywoman.
The Olympic mountain bike race has traditionally been on the final weekend of the Summer Games, but several changes to the cycling program for Tokyo have pushed it up in the order. The men’s race is July 27 and the women’s race the following day, breaking up the men’s and women’s road races and the men’s and women’s time trials.
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