As reported by USA Cycling, on Thursday, Christopher Blevins earned his first World Champion title, winning the first-ever Elite Men’s Short Track Cross Country event at the 2021 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships held at the Val di Sole resort in Commezzadura, Italy. Combating a field of 38 competitors, Blevins rode an aggressive race, staying in the front ten riders the entire race. He took the lead in the last 100-meters, where he overtook Maximillian Brandl (GER) in the last corner before the finishing straight to set himself up to win the final sprint. Blevins positioned himself well, recognizing that the first rider through the last turn would win.
Blevins talked about his expectations for the race and said, “I grew up racing short tracks, and I’ve been dreaming of this race for a few years since it’s been in the World Cups. I didn’t know if I had a fighting chance at [the championship title]. It’s just an honor to line up next to these guys. I stayed composed and had enough legs for the finish. I did surprise myself with the ride. It was an incredible ride.”
Blevins got his sprint game dialed ???? #ValdiSole2021
— FloBikes (@flobikes) August 26, 2021
After placing third in his qualifying heat on Tuesday, Blevins was on the front of the group for the start of the race. After the holeshot, Blevins sat in sixth. South African rider Alan Hatherly led for the first several laps, but the trio of Henrique Avancini (BRA), Ondrej Cink (CZE), and Brandl took over the lead in the second half of the race. Blevins raced smart, staying within striking distance of the lead the entire race, never coming out of the top-10. As the field started its sixth lap, Cink and Avancini attacked and started to pull away from the field, but Blevins and Brandl bridged up to the duo, cementing the top contenders for the event.
In the final lap, Brandl took the race lead, opening a small gap over the lead group, but the group pulled him back in on the last lap. Blevins launched his winning move in the final turn, where he passed Brandl to take the lead. He sprinted from the corner, taking the win by just two seconds over Avancini and Brandl.
Blevins is the first American man to win an Elite title at the Cross-Country Mountain Bike World Championships since John Tomac won the Elite Men’s XCO race in 1991 in Barga, Italy. On this historical feat, Blevins said, “To bridge that gap between John and myself is literally a childhood dream come true. It’s been a long time coming. It won’t be that long again with all the young guys we have coming up in the U.S. This is an incredible feeling.”
2021 UCI MTB SHORT TRACK WORLD CHAMPION CHRISTOPHER BLEVINS ???????????????? pic.twitter.com/IVePEvEI2d
— USA Cycling (@usacycling) August 26, 2021
Photo by Christy Nicholson / EchelonDesignPhoto.com