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Jenn Jackson launches into World Cup with XCC top 10

Woods and Holmgren show solid form in Mairiporã, Brazil

Photo by: Jenn Jackson, far right, off the start of the women's XCC World Cup. Photo: Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool

It was a big day for Canadian cross country racing in Brazil on Saturday. Just before Zorak Paillé flew through the under-23 men’s XCO field, the elites flew around Mariaporã’s short track (XCC) course. Jenn Jackson scored a big top 10 finish in the women’s field while Carter Woods made a solid impression in his elite men’s debut.

Elite Women’s XCC World Cup

The elite women’s field was led out by Martina Berta (Santa Cruz RockShox) before an attack from Jolanda Neff (Trek Factory Racing). Rebecca Henderson (Primaflor Mondraker) was quick to respond, perhaps recalling her success the last time the World Cup visited Brazil. But it was a big group of 25, including Canada’s Jenn Jackson (Liv Factory Racing) rolled out onto lap two together.

Jackson worked her way up from 20th to 25th to, by the time Kate Courtney (Scott-SRAM) took her turn on the front in lap three, 12th. Courtney continued to lead through lap five, but was pulling XCC powerhouse Evie Richards as well as Neff and Jenny Rissveds (Team 31 Ibis) in her wheels.

Evie Richards posts up for her first World Cup win of 2024. Photo: Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool

Sure enough, Richards attacked into the pump track section, where Courtney seemed to struggle, and quickly opened a gap. Jackson was holding steady in 14th, but Richard’s acceleration had blown the race apart and gaps were starting to grow.

Richards continued to extend her lead over the sixth of seven laps, heading out onto the final loop with a six-second advantage over Alessandra Keller (Thomus Maxon) and Henderson.

Evie Richards held her advantage to the finish line, comfortably winning the first World Cup XCC of 2024. Rebecca Henderson beats out Keller for second place.

Henderson, Richards and Keller on the XCC World Cup podium. Photo: Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool

Jenn Jackson had a fantastic final lap, moving up into ninth by the finish line. It’s the Canadian XCO national champion’s best XCC World Cup result to date. It also puts her right near the front of the start grid for tomorrow’s XCO event.

“It was really hot. Especially when the UK has literally been grey for six months straight.  It’s good to get some sunshine and some vitamin D on the body,” Richards said after her win. “It started off in quite a big group and then a couple of different girls went on the front and pushed. Kate [Courtney] made an attack, and I happened to be on her second wheel. I just pushed with the attack. I think she faded a bit at the top of one of the climbs and I came out of the descent with a lead. I just kept going at that speed to mantain the gap. I’m really pleased to start the season like that.”

A crowded start for the XCC World Cup. Photo: Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool

Elite Men’s XCC World Cup

As expected, Luca Schwarzbauer (Canyon Cllctv) launched himself to the front of the men’s XCC field immediately. The maple leaves of Carter Woods’ (Giant Factory Off-Road Team) national champions jersey was also right near the front, finishing off the first lap inside an aboslutely flying top-20.

As Chilean talent Martin Vidaurre (Specialized) moved to the front, Woods drifted slightly further back into the mid-20s. Short track world champion, Sam Gaze rolled onto the front ahead of Vidaurre. A couple laps later, he was attacked by Schwarzbauer as the group climbed towards the awkward pumptrack.

Samuel Gaze built a small advantage on the pump track. Photo: Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool

Gaze responded, launching a move of his own on the final lap. He earned a small advantage over Schwarzbaur through the pumptrack. The German closed back down to Gaze but couldn’t find time or space to make a pass before the finish line.

Samuel Gaze saluted by Schwarzbauer. Photo: Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool

Sam Gaze wins the first XCC World Cup of 2024, wearing the rainbow bands of world champion. Schwarzbauer crossed the line second, with a gesture of respect to his fellow Canyon rider. Vidaurre finished third, though he appeared frustrated in the finish area.

Woods rallied into the top 20 on the final lap, finishing a very impressive 18th in his elite World Cup debut. Gunnar Holmgren (KMC Ridley) finishes 30th, 24 seconds back.

“It’s been a really difficult couple of weeks, it was really hard to focus on my job at some points, but I’ve come out here and put together a good performance. The start was super critical for me and a lot of the time I don’t get lucky, but I have to say I got lucky in the start loop, and then from there it was just trying to recover the best I could before moving forward,” Gaze said after the race. “The heat is such a factor here, it feels like I’ve swallowed a glass full of glass. I’m super happy, good signs for the next two weeks, happy to have a good start.”

It’s not often that riders from different teams salute eachother at the finish instead of contesting the sprint. Gaze said he appreciated the effort, and teammwork from the German.

“Luca [Schwarzbauer] is a great guy, we found a bit of partnership, just trying to keep the speed how we wanted it. There’s a big advantage racing from the front and as soon as I got there, I realised the advantage they had, so we tried to keep it and then, to be honest, I really didn’t think it was possible to do the sprint. I was completely on the limit, but obviously everyone else was too. That’s short track racing.”