Kate Courtney is on a roll.
The reigning mountain bike world champion, who last year became the first American woman in 17 years to win the world title, took her second consecutive UCI elite cross-country world cup title Sunday in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic, bypassing leader Anne Tauber of the Netherlands during the final lap.
Not that the victory came easy – “a tough start, a flat, some doubt and one of the deepest digs of my life,” Courtney summarized her day in an Instagram post. “This one was special.” Certainly it did not start well: the 23-year-old Californian trailed the leaders by more than 30 seconds two laps into the six-lap course before finding her rhythm and surging into third behind Tauber and Swiss star Jolanda Neff, a three-time overall world cup champion.
She fought hard to surpass Neff and closed the gap between herself and Tauber to only seven seconds as they began the final lap. Under pressure, Tauber fell back, while Neff suffered a flat tire. By the time she sailed across the finish line in 1 hour, 27 minutes and 31 seconds, the rainbow-vested Courtney was all by herself.
Australia’s Rebecca McConnell crossed the line for the silver in 1:28:07, with Canada’s Haley Smith earning her first ever podium finish in third in 1:28:13. The win comes seven days after Courtney began her world cup season with her first ever win on the UCI circuit in Albstadt, Germany.
The UCI cross-country mountain bike world cup continues July 5-7 in Vallnord, Andorra.