It seemed no amount of water would calm this course down here at the Smithfield Mountain Bike Park. After three races and two days of practice, it was a jagged tooth beast just as deadly as the fauna of Australia. It had taken a few racers out of the game before the start gun went off. While the heat of the day got to full burn, the women lined up under umbrellas, wet towels around their necks or ice vests keeping their cores cool.
Yana Belamoina was clearly the one to watch, but after Val di Sole it was clear that Jolanda Neff had come into form. Annie Last had a win in similar conditions in Lenzerheide and was primed to do some damage. The there was Maja, Pendrel, Langvad, Irina, and Pauline who could get the job done on any given day.
After a slow start to the season, Jolanda Neff showed Val di Sole was no fluke, and she was back to her winning ways, and now she has the gold to prove it. Annie last has made a long recovery from back injury and took an impressive second place. Pauline Prevot took third in what seemed a late season peak. Lea Davison had an impressive ride to sixth, and Emily Batty took a sprint finish to seventh after a crash left her with a gaping wound on her knee that went clear to bone. This one was certainly one for the books.
Pauline Ferrand Prevot, keeping cool while warming up.
Annika Langvad tried her best to defend her title, but it wasn't her day today.
Catharine Pendrel focused at the start.
Yana Belomoina took all efforts to stay cool prior to the start. She had crashed hard in practice and would later abandon the race with a possible concussion.
Maja Wloszczowska always remembers her coach, Marek Galinski.
Neff taking the hole shot. Her pace at the start is never off.
Some Marshals had the right kit out there today.
Drink more. Save less.
Maja Wloszczowska saw her chances for a medal fade after a crash in front caused her lose control. Nevertheless, she took fourth and was cheering for her teammate and friend Jolanda Neff right after.
Pauline may have seemed off pace early on in the season, but she had her legs under her today.
Emily Batty was in touch with the top five when disaster struck.
Annie Last was absolutely crushing it. Another amazing performance this year for the come-back Brit.
Lea Davison had a hell of a ride today, taking sixth place and the title of fastest American.
Sabine Spitz gets a little off course on lap four.
Neff is blazing fast in the downhills. Combine that with her furious start and tremendous pace throughout the race and you know this lady might claim more titles in the future.
Annie Last is back on the bike, enjoying every minute of it. Today the British rider finished off her season in style by winning a silver medal on the World Champs.
Batty and Davison battle it out for sixth and seventh position.
Irina Kalentyeva took fifth place.
Fans cheer Neff home on the final lap.
Was Jolanda saving it for this moment? One might think so.
We will spare you the other photos. Batty sprinted across the line with a gash across her knee that was down to bone.
Emily Batty, (or should we say Battle) fought one third of the way through the last lap with a nasty gash that sent her to the hospital. We wish her well.
Time to celebrate.
Rainbow stripes. The ultimate trophy for cyclists.
Jolanda Neff, Annie Last, and Pauline Prevot, your 2017 top three elite women.