Specialized's super weekend at the MTB Worlds
It was a special weekend for our Specialized MTB riders, breaking and matching records in both the men’s and women’s disciplines. Kate Courtney lit up the women’s XCO race, defying the favourites to score America’s biggest win in close to two decades, as Loic Bruni dominated the downhill course to take his tally of rainbow jerseys up to the magic three.
Stars, stripes and rainbows
Saturday’s Women’s XCO event saw Kate Courtney not only win her first ever World Cup race, but her first World Champs too – becoming the first American to don the rainbow stripes since 2001. She may be a new name to the cross-country discipline, but she’s already making waves among the sport’s biggest contenders, defeating the likes of Annika Langvad (Denmark) and Emily Batty (Canada) in her pursuit for the rainbow bands. Better yet, Courtney is just 22 years of old, setting the stage for an entertaining decade to come in women’s cross-country mountain-biking.
The 67-rider field was soon decimated by the elite trio of Langvad, Courtney and Batty. The Canadian, Batty, couldn’t match the pace of the other two and soon dropped out of contention. Langvad and Courtney, teammates at Specialized Racing, working well together to ensure the fight for the rainbow bands would come down to a two-horse race.
On the penultimate lap, it was Langvad’s years of experience that allowed her to open up a 30-plus second gap on Courtney, leaving the youngster grinding away in second. However, to the astonishment of both the crowd and race announcers, Courtney surged back, drawing level with Langvad as the two headed into the final lap of the race.
Again Langvad attacked, this time on a steep uphill section, the pain visible on Courtney’s face as she struggled to match the Danish cross-country veteran. Hanging on to Langvad’s coattails, Courtney chose the technical rooted section of the course on which to make her winning move. As Langvad had a little wobble, Courtney capitalised and opened up a soon unassailable gap.
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When pain turns to champagne 😜🌈🥂 A lot of hard work paid off yesterday in front of a spectacular crowd that included so many friends and family. Thank you for the belief and all the messages of support. Not getting over this feeling for a long time. #chasingrainbows #sparklewatts #gritgracegratitude #championstandard #thatwasepic | pc @michalcervenyphoto @usacycling
She flew into the finish stretch with a sizeable 47-second lead, leaving just enough time to raise her arms aloft as the first American world champion since Alison Dunlap way back in 2001. The youngster was in shock as she screeched to a halt at the barriers to hug her parents.
“To look up at the finish and realize I was the first one was an incredible feeling,” said Courtney in an interview with Red Bull TV. She later wrote on Instagram, “it’s a very special day bringing the [rainbow] stripes back to America.”
Courtney rode her custom, Women’s S-Works Epic at the World Champs, a bike she affectionately nicknames her “American race rocket.” Aside from her custom paintjob and a few choice components, Courtney’s trail-blazing machine is a thoroughbred S-Works Epic underneath. This means that it benefits from our ground-breaking Brain 2.0 technology which reacts effortlessly to terrain changes beneath the wheels, delivering smooth, unwavering suspension performance.
With the addition of Rider-First Engineered technology on our super lightweight, FACT 11m carbon frame, we have been able to create a frame that reduces both drag and weight while making no compromises in the stiffness department. In fact, this is one of the stiffest frames we’ve ever made and combined with the confident and agile geometry, it’s a real beast for high-performance cross-country racing, able to accelerate instantaneously and turn on a dime if needs be.
All good things come in threes
The list of three-time DH World Championships winners is an extremely exclusive club. Before Sunday’s downhill race, only three riders sat on the club’s committee – Sam Hill, Greg Minnaar and Nico Vouilloz.
Clocking a time of 2:55.114, Loic Bruni soon became the fourth member to join the club’s esteemed ranks, taking his third world title and second-consecutive victory in the men’s DH World Championships. He beat upstart enduro rider, Martin Maes, into second place and Britain’s exuberant Danny Hart into third, successfully defending the rainbow stripes he’d acquired this time last year.
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Realized a bit more today that we're bringing home a 3rd Elite title... Could not finish this hard season better than winning the last one. There was so many people I loved yesterday, to share this insane moment. All the @specializedgravity team, @lacrete5 @nicstraining @mirandamillermtb @finniles @kevjoly @rsmaniotto, the parents, the friends from Nice and around, the best girlfriend @malene_degn, @lorisvergier for being rad, @amaurypierron4 for his influence on me, @samblenkinsop for everything, Werner for the body maintenance, the @ride100percent crew @herveorny @marcblanchard, the one @vsaccomani, old champs @nicovouilloz_nv10 and @fabienbarel, the @squidsontour... Plus all the french staff, sponsors and others so nice persons sending me messages. Big Thank you. I am going to be annoying for the next few weeks posting photos of this last week, but it was one of the best in my life... Peace // Photos by SebSchieck
His World Cup season hasn’t been all too successful and the infamous ‘curse of the rainbow bands’ has seemed to hang over him like a dark cloud throughout a lot of the season. Nevertheless, he bit back with a vengeance in Lenzerheide, Switzerland this Sunday, blitzing the slick and technical track to usurp Maes’ hot seat and take hold of the lead by a slim 0.213 seconds with only five riders left to race.
To Bruni’s immense relief, no other rider went faster, and another year in the coveted rainbow bands headed his way. After the race, Bruni described the tough World Champs course and summed up his tumultuous 2018 season.
“It was dusty and slippery, but still wet in the woods, so it was hard to know where to push, because there were a lot of places you could crash. I'm so happy because it's been a year with a lot of bad results and a few good ones. I couldn't have finished the season in a better way."
Taking the world title aboard one of the most customised DH rigs on the pro circuit, Loic Bruni no doubt has a glowing rapport for his super-special, S-Works Demo 8. The rig is equipped with some of the best downhill tech available – Ohlins suspension, SRAM transmission and Magura brakes all combining together to deliver the fastest, nimblest downhill performance.
Bruni opts for a Joystick cockpit, DT Swiss wheels and a pair of 2.3-inch Butcher tyres to complete his machine – a bike certainly worthy of a three-time world champion. The Frenchman rides an extra-large frame, but that is of course not the only size you can find on our website. There are multiple models, different sizes, materials and price points, but all guarantee one thing – the ultimate, downhill shredding experience.
If you’re looking to shred the trail like our world champions, make sure to check out our wide range of off-road bikes here. From cross-country, to enduro, to downhill, we’ve probably got your ‘perfect’ bike right here in-store.
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