After an injury- and pandemic-interrupted 2020, Jolanda Neff feels relieved to get another win
Once is a moment; twice is a trend.
After a second place finish in her first race of the season in Banyoles, Trek Factory Racing’s Jolanda Neff hopped right back on the podium this past Saturday, this time taking the top step after winning the first stage of the Internazionali d’Italia Series in Andora.
The win was Neff’s first since winning her sixth Swiss national title last July. It was a relief for a former world champion who was unable to get in rhythm last year as she recovered from a bad accident and muddled through a disjointed racing calendar. With two medals against fields full of top competition, there should be no question whether Neff is back to form.
Race highlights and analysis from the Internazionali d’Italia:
“It’s super nice to have the first win of the season,” Neff said after the race. “It has been a while, so it was a good day. And the team worked perfectly.”
Neff had to pick her way through the competition, starting in 13th position on the largely singletrack course. Midway through the five-lap race, after the front field had thinned out, she was able to get on the wheel of fellow Swiss rider Sina Frei, who had been in the lead after pushing the early pace.
No one would challenge Neff for the last two laps. She won by 37 seconds over Austria’s Mona Mitterwallner, who rides for Team Trek Vaude at just 19 years old. Mitterwallner is a junior world champion who has now proven she can compete with the best XC riders in the world. The Netherlands’ Anne Terpstra took third at 42 seconds behind Neff.
“I was not in the front in the beginning but then it went better and better,” Neff said. “I had a good feeling, and it was a really nice race and a nice, very natural track.”
In the men’s race, TFR’s Stéphane Tempier finished a disappointing 20th place, but remained upbeat afterwards. Evie Richards, who won in Banyoles to share the podium with Neff, did not compete.