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Girona (Spain), Friday 23 September 2022 – The Sea Otter Europe Festival opened its doors to the public and the racing today, with Race 1 of the UCI E-MTB XC World Cup. Nice Mediterranean weather and a different schedule for the WES series within one of the biggest bike events in Europe.
The day started with the Qualirace seeing Nicole Göldi (Trek) and Jérôme Gilloux (Lapierre) setting the fastest time and taking the Raspini Pole Position Award, in a lap time of 8:23.70 and 7:33.53, respectively.
The Women’s World Champ was racing here for the first time, while the Men’s Reigning Champ already experienced the World Cup here in 2021, at its first edition.
Race 1 was dominated by reigning World Champions in both the Women and the Men categories.
Göldi looked pretty much confident ahead of her rivals, a mix of well-known faces at WES, local heroes and wildcards. The 19-year-old Swiss had a great race start and managed to grab some important seconds lap by lap, her strategy being to push hard in the uphills, where she knew her German runner up Sofia Wiedenroth (Specialized) would have made her life not easy. Sandra Santanyes (Trek), had great memories of her double win here last year at her debut in the series, and she started in third position, maintaining this top-3 unchanged for the entire race. Argentinian Fina Casey (Canyon), who also debuted in the E-MTB World Cup here at WES Girona in 2021 with a third place, finished fourth today, ahead of Mireia Madrenas (Orbea), at her first appearance in the series.
Gilloux managed to win race 1 today, recalling last year’s Race 1 victory of Dutchman Jeroen van Eck (Ghost) in a great sprint finish, ahead of him. The French had a perfect start and was expecting an interesting battle, as always, with runner-up, Swiss Champion Joris Ryf (Bergstrom), while Ryf had some technical problems in lap 1 and lost several important seconds, fighting hard to get back to the top for the entire distance. He eventually finished 5th, behind new face Alberto Fernandez (Cannondale), strong and consistent from the race start, in second, Ismael Esteban (BH), who completed the podium thanks to a very solid performance. The Spaniard had an exciting battle with Théo Charmes (Cube), recently crowned French National Champ, who was in second place for the first 3 laps and finished his race in fourth, and van Eck, doing his best and finishing 6th.
“The Specialist” Frenchman Gilloux gets himself 78 points ahead of his rival Joris Ryf, with 50 left between tomorrow’s Race 2 and the Big Final in Barcelona, in just a few weeks time.
In the Women’s overall standings, Göldi (188 pts) grabs some additional advantage ahead of Wiedenroth (149 pts), now in second, and Tonso (Lapierre, 143), dropped in third today, as she was forced to DNS due to health reasons.
Tomorrow’s race schedule sees another late start at 17:00 CET for 25 points more to take in each category.