Scottish XC rider Kenta Gallagher won the XC Eliminator at the World Cup in Nove Mesto at the weekend. A great win at international level.
Kenta had been on the British Cycling performance programme for a few years and been supported by the Braveheart Fund. Lately I had begun to wonder about results, with younger compatriot (and fellow BC Performance rider) Grant Ferguson seemingly overtaking him. However it’s easy to forget the Braveheart and BC Performance might be more about developing athletes than getting on the top step of the podium. As an armchair follower who isn’t plugged into the MTB racing scene, I don’t have much of an idea what the performance path and the expectations really are but this result is obviously a step up at elite level.
Below is the press information from Endura, cycle clothing sponsor of Superior Brentjens MTB Racing Team for 2013 and 2014. I get a sort of squeamish feeling running press releases – I should really be doing the stories myself – but time is tighter than a carbon post fused in a seat-tube right now.
Kenta Gallagher of the Superior Brentjens MTB Racing Team, sponsored by Endura, won the XCE in Nove Mesto last Friday. The second round of the UCI MTB World Cup Series kicked off last Friday with the new Sprint Eliminator (XCE) discipline. The Sprint Eliminator begins with a time trial around a short urban course filled with obstacles. The top 32 women and top 32 men qualify for competition and then race in heats of four, with the top two in each heat moving on to the next round. Eventually, the top four riders race for the World Cup title. The IOC came over to Nove Mesto na Morave to see if this young and dynamic form of mountain biking can be added to the Olympic Games in Rio 2016. A final decision will be made in September later this year.
Superior-Brentjens’ Kenta Gallagher finished fourth in the time trial, which placed him in the 3rd heat against Foytik (CZE), Van Hoovels (BEL) and Sepp Freiburghaus (SUI). Gallagher and Freiburghaus made it to the quarter-finals. In the quarter-finals Kenta was racing against Groen (NED), Geneste (FRA) and Freiburghaus (SUI), and again it was Gallagher and Freiburghaus that made it to the semi-finals. XCE specialist Daniel Federspiel (AUT), who won the UCI Worlcup XCE last week in Albstadt and Miha Halzer (SLO), who finished third there, were competing with Kenta and Freiburghaus in the semi-finals. In a close sprint it was Kenta Gallagher and Miha Halzer that made it to the big final, joined by Christian Pfaffle (GER) and Simon Gegenheimer (GER).
In a thrilling final, after Miha Halzer breaking his derailleur on the rock garden and Simon Gegenheimer suffering a flat tire, it was Gallagher sprinting against Pfaffle. On the asphalt to the finish line it was Pfaffle that opened up, while Kenta Gallagher decided to start his sprint later – he perfectly timed and gloriously won his firstWorldCup ever.
Kenta said: “Knowing you are on the podium is already fun racing, but it was now or never for the win. It’s cool to win my first world Cup. I’m amazed. I didn’t think I could do it so early on and with such a hard track. This course is so hard, there’s a lot of tactics involved and you have to make your moves on the final straight.”
Bart Brentjens, team manager: “I am really happy for Kenta that he won his first World Cup. When I saw him racing XCE last year in Houffalize I was already impressed by the enormous power and sprint capacities he has. It is a great start and I think Kenta will show us some more good results this year.”
Photos by Irmo Keizer