Rock, roots, rain and ... blood?! Inside a wild weekend in West Virginia.
Snowshoe did everything it could to dampen the Trek Factory Racing XC team’s spirits. If the course itself — filled with big boulders and teeth-chattering roots — wasn’t bad enough, torrential rain and dense fog made Sunday’s racing feel like a fight for survival at times. But through the inclement conditions and intense racing, the squad stayed upbeat and had another successful weekend, highlighted by Maddie Munro’s podium performance in the women’s U23 race.
Prior to Sunday, Munro’s best ever finish in a World Cup was seventh at Snowshoe last year. Racing on home soil as an American is clearly a big motivator. Munro entered the 2022 race with momentum on her side, coming off a national title in Colorado the week before. She proceeded to take third against a strong field.
“Thank you to the entire village of support around me for being there to help achieve this goal,” Munro said after the race. “From all the people of TFR XC, to my coaches, family and of course those stellar USA fans out there!”
Munro had to overcome an early crash to pick her way back to the front of the chasing group and take her place on the box. At the end of the second lap, she was approximately one minute down from eventual winner Noëlle Buri. She maintained that gap for roughly three more laps while largely riding solo, and eventually crossed the finish line at 1:38 out of first.
“Started off my race with a crash but fought as hard as I could to the front of the race to land a third place,” Munro said. “I can’t wait to see what progress we can keep making this weekend in Mont-Sainte-Anne.”
Jolanda Neff was TFR’s other podium finisher, taking fifth after the sky burst with rain mid-race. The slippery conditions only seemed to make Neff faster. She used her masterful technical skills to make up time on Snowshoe’s slick descents and pick her way past opponents onto the podium. She was in eighth place with three laps to go.
“What a race. All-time conditions,” Neff said after the race. “Incredibly stoked with P5 after two difficult weeks. Rode the best race I could with missing all that training. The longer the race went on, the harder it rained. I absolutely loved it.”
Neff has been searching for consistency this season while battling repeated illness. In Andorra, the Olympic champion sat out the XCO event. Sunday was a much-needed reminder that she is still in strong form.
“The past World Cup weekend was a great reminder for myself that even though you might not feel at 100 percent with your preparation, the most important thing is to show up,” Neff said. “No matter your starting point, you can give 100 percent effort. And you might just surprise yourself with how far you can get.”
Like Munro and Neff, TFR’s Vlad Dascalu only seemed to get faster the longer his brutally difficult race went on. After a relatively slow start by his standards — 16th and 51 seconds off the lead at the end of two laps — Dascalu moved up the field and put himself within punching distance of the podium, heading into the final lap in ninth and 22 seconds from the front.
But then disaster struck. Near the end of the race, he took a hard fall that resulted in a cut on his leg and a damaged nose.
Dascalu muscled his way to the finish line to take 13th. He’ll have to rest up and hopefully do some fast healing to be ready for Mont-Sainte-Anne in less than a week. But if anyone can do it, it’s Dascalu, who has overcome illness, bad luck and bad crashes all season to haul in consistently strong results and make himself a contender on the World Cup overall standings.
This won’t be the last time we see Dascalu fight through adversity this season.
Trek | Vaude's big day
Trek | Vaude is taking a unique approach to rider development that emphasizes data-driven training with a love-forward culture.
Snowshoe offered the best evidence yet that the approach is working. In the women’s U23 race, two Trek | Vaude riders finished in the top five, with Luisa Daubermann taking second and Tamara Wiedmann taking fifth. In the men’s U23 race, Bjorn Riley took second by just 0:01 behind Martin Vidaurre Kossmann, who has won six World Cup races this year. Riley also won the U.S. national title last week.
This season has been good to young riders on Trek bikes. TFR’s Riley Amos can also claim a U23 World Cup podium this season (he is currently on the mend with a broken collarbone), and Hattie Harnden added to Trek’s U23 national title haul by winning the British championship for the second year in a row.
The future is going to be so much fun.