ALBSTADT, Germany (AP) — Mathieu van der Poel and Pauline Ferrand-Prevot confirmed their status as the favorites in mountain biking at the Tokyo Olympics by winning the first World Cup race of the season Friday night in Germany.
The two won 20-minute short track races and will be on the front row for Sunday’s cross country race, which should be an even better barometer of which riders are trending upward ahead of the Summer Games, which start in July.
Van der Poel is one of the top cyclocross racers in the world and also plans to ride the Tour de France for his Alpecin–Fenix team. He has acknowledged that he may be forced to leave the three-week grand tour early to prep for Tokyo.
The Dutch rider attacked early on Friday night and finished in 20 minutes, 39 seconds. Victor Koretzky of France was second, followed by Swiss rider Nino Schurter, the three-time Olympic medalist and reigning gold medalist.
Ferrand-Prevot, the three-time world champion, hung back early in the women’s race before pulling ahead in the final last half-mile. Linda Indergand of Switzerland was second and Britain’s Annie Last edged American Kate Courtney for third.
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