Jeroen van Eck of the Netherland’s and Italian Gaia Tormena won the sixth and final round in a thrilling 2021 UCI Mountain Bike Eliminator World Cup in Barcelona, Spain.
The victories meant that that Van Eck and Tormena have also clinched the overall UCI World Cup titles with 365 and 450 points respectively.
While the Men’s competition was decided on the very last race of the season, the UCI World Champion Tormena already had her overall title confirmed at the previous round in France, in which she was unable to race.
“It is like a dream for me, I’m very very happy. This one was a hard race. The last lap I had to give it all to win the last race of the season!” said Gaia Tormena.
“It is incredible. It is more or less the same as two years ago, but now I am more able to understand. I am super proud, this is the one I was fighting for!”
“I came here knowing I was just a few points above Simon. After the semi-finals I thought, ‘This is what Eliminator is, let’s kick some ass in the big final’. I won the World Cup in Barcelona for the third time, and now I am the overall winner!” said Jeroen Van Eck.
“What a season… I came into this race knowing there was a lot on the table. I just won the big final but I just cannot believe it, I just took the overall! Everything that looks smooth… it doesn’t come easy!”
Pre-race & qualification
In the Women’s competition, Tormena arrived in Barcelona with 360 points and Marion Fromberger of German in second with 241. With third place Lia Schrievers (GER, 218) and fourth-placed Ella Holmegård (SWE, 188) not riding, it was an opportunity for Dutch rider Didi de Vries to improve on her 148 and push up the rankings – and she duly hit the qualifying time trial hard, recording the second fastest time behind Tormena and ahead of Fromberger. The fastest Spanish woman in the time trial was Aina Gonzalez.
Going into the final round, it was very close in the Men’s overall standings: Van Eck led with 285 points from Simon Gegenheimer’s 283, with in-form Titouan Perrin-Ganier surging to 221. And the qualifying time trial action in Barcelona was every bit as tight: Sweden’s Anton Olstam fastest at 37.91 sec with Van Eck and Gegenheimer 0.13 and 0.15 back respectively, and seven competitors – including fastest home rider Adrian Gonzalez, brother of Aina – within a second of the Swede!
Overall fourth-placed Lorenzo Serres (196) out-qualified fellow Frenchman Titouan Perrin-Ganier, looking to stop his race-winning run and overhaul his total – and the pair were pitched together as early as the quarter-final heats.
Women’s finals: Italian triumph
Tormena wheelied across the line, comfortably through the semi-final along with Spain’s Sandra Jorda Pasco. Fromberger and De Vries also progressed, but it was no repeat of 2020’s Big Final for Spain’s Sara Gay Moreno, who went on to win the small final.
In the Women’s Big Final, close and intense riding saw the same 1-2 as 2020: Tormena beating Fromberger. But this year De Vries came in third, which was enough to move up to fourth overall.
Men’s finals: Dutch delight
Olstam and Austrian Elias Tranninger, Serres and Perrin-Ganier all went through the Men’s quarter-final. As did European Champion Van Eck, Italian Champion Emanuele Huez on his UCI Mountain Bile Eliminator World Cup debut, and Singapore’s Riyadh Hakim Bin Lukman pipping UCI World Champion Gegenheimer in the fourth heat. The German duo of Felix Klausmann and Nils-Obed Riecker were among those not making the semi-finals.
In the semis, a mechanical for Tranninger meant a three-way fight in heat 1, with four-time UCI World Champion Perrin-Ganier being squeezed after having led, out as Olstam and Serres went through. As Lukman crashed in heat 2 and Huez faded, Van Eck and Gegenheimer joined the French and Swedish riders in the Big Final.
After Lukman recovered to win the small final, the UCI Mountain Bike Eliminator World Cup season’s final battle began. Van Eck gave everything to pull out a lead, and the Dutchman powered to maintain the advantage to the line where he punched the air, winning in the same spot as he did in 2020, this time to clinch the UCI World Cup overall from Gegenheimer. Serres’ third place also moved him up to finish fourth in the series overall.