Dust and Bone: Elite Women Photo Epic - Cairns XC World Champs 2017

Sep 9, 2017
by Matthew DeLorme  




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.


Prevot keeping cool while warming up.
Pauline Ferrand Prevot, keeping cool while warming up.

Annika Langvad tried her best to defend her title but it wasn t her day today.
Annika Langvad tried her best to defend her title, but it wasn't her day today.

Catharine Pendrel focused at the start.
Catharine Pendrel focused at the start.

Yana Belomoina took all efforts to stay cool prior to the start. Belomoina crashed hard in practice and left the race as a possible concussion was too much to handle.
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.
Maja Wloszczowska always remembers her coach, Marek Galinski.

Neff s pace at the start is never off. Taking the wholeshot.
Neff taking the hole shot. Her pace at the start is never off.

Some Marshals had the right kit out there today.
Some Marshals had the right kit out there today.

Drink more. Save less.
Drink more. Save less.

Dust and Bone - Elite Women Photo Epic - Cairns XC World Champs 2017

Maja Wloszczowska saw her chances for a medal fade a crash in front caused her loose control as well. Nevertheless she took fourth and was cheering for her teammate and friend Jolanda Neff right after.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sabine Spitz gets a little off course on lap four.

Neff is blazing fast in the downhills. Combine that with a furious start and a tremendous pace throughout the race and you know this lady might claim more titles in the future.
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.
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 6 and 7 position.
Batty and Davison battle it out for sixth and seventh position.

Irina Kalentyeva took fifth today.
Irina Kalentyeva took fifth place.

Fans cheer Neff home on the final lap.
Fans cheer Neff home on the final lap.

Was Jolanda saving it for this moment One might think so.
Was Jolanda saving it for this moment? One might think so.

Dust and Bone - Elite Women Photo Epic - Cairns XC World Champs 2017

True sportsmanship.
True sportsmanship.

We will spare you the other photos. Batty sprinted across the line with a gash across the knee that was down to bone.
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 her way through the last 1 3 of the last lap with a nasty gash that went to the bone. Emily was taken to the hospital and we wish her well.
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.
Time to celebrate.

Rainbow stripes. The ultimate trophy for all bikers.
Rainbow stripes. The ultimate trophy for cyclists.

Jolanda Neff Annie Last and Pauline Prevot your 2017 top 3 elite women.
Jolanda Neff, Annie Last, and Pauline Prevot, your 2017 top three elite women.


Must Read This Week

45 Comments

  • + 34
 Congratulations to Pauline Ferrand-Prevot for an extremely gutsy ride! There's no mention in this article that she got a flat and she lost about a minute and a half (the same amount of time as her gap to Annie Last). The flat sent her back to 7th(?) and she absolutely smashed the race to come third, overtaking nearly every woman photographed above. I was glad to see her medal.

Annie Last rode a smart race - was leading in the beginning but nearly blew up trying to keep up with the leaders. She dropped a few places, settled in and then gradually hunted every rider down, except for Neff (who was the strongest I've ever seen her).

All season, the womens XC has been more entertaining than the mens.
  • + 7
 100% This season has been the best I can recall for the women - lots of shifts in momentum and form (and return(s) from injury) has made for great racing.

So glad to see Neff take the title like that, she deserved it.

Such a shame that Belomoina wasn't herself and Rissveds wasn't racing (and in form) but you can't have it all.

Definitely agree about PFP - I don't think she'd have got Neff in this one but in my humble opinion she's an absolute phenom and along with Batty, might just be the toughest woman in the sport.

Re Batty, I think people might be right when they say she had no business being out there with a concussion, but you've got to take into account elite competitors aren't like the majority of us. She's utterly driven - probably to a fault. If she didn't have that mindset though we wouldn't even know who she is. It's a tough one.
  • + 3
 Pauline was a bad ass I am happy she's back! Come thrird with a flat is awesome. I hope she continues next year where she left off this one and we will see her wins again.

I find the women's XC more entertaining in the last couple of years. They are fast, tough, beautiful and unpredictable. Smile
  • + 22
 wasn't batty also racing with injuries and a concussion after a bad crash the day before?
  • + 4
 She was. What happened to Catherine Pendrel?
  • + 6
 Yup. A pretty messed up back and shoulder and a concussion. Didn't see her cross the line, so totally missed that this other crashed happened. She's a tough one. Incredible.
  • + 1
 @Mwmg15: Was wondering the same thing. Was at the front at first and finished way back.
  • + 11
 Batty is one tuff cookie. Admire that about her. People mostly look at her Beauty, as I also do. But she is a serious contender.
  • + 26
 @volvoshredder: Someday we will admire the wise ones that suffer concussions and choose to stay off the field of play.
  • + 17
 @stikmanglaspell: Seriously. Racing and crashing after suffering a concussion is a great way to suffer secondary impact syndrome and further damage an already vulnerable and injured brain. This is not tough, it's stupid and sets a really bad example for kids who might try to "shake off" a concussion and suffer the dire consequences.
  • + 2
 @stikmanglaspell: ie yana belomoina
  • - 13
flag jclnv (Sep 9, 2017 at 17:35) (Below Threshold)
 She wasn't effected enough to change her wheel sucking style of racing.
  • + 5
 @topherdagopher: What you write is mostly correct in my view. I think it would be better to say that Emily is a very tough cookie but was very stupid to race if she was suffering from concussion. The potential damage from secondary impact syndrome is very real and life changing (for the worse).
  • + 36
 @Prof: @topherdagopher: It was stupid - but Batty isn't the one to blame. The problem with head injuries is that you need a properly functioning brain to figure out if a brain is functioning properly. A concussion can rob you of the ability to assess your own state of fitness, and ironically the worse the concussion the more likely you are to think there's nothing wrong. A friend of mine crashed hard in the qualies at Megavalanche and had a concussion so bad he couldn't walk straight - his companions had to steal his bike because he was so convinced he was totally fine to do the race.

Another friend suffered a serious brain injury resulting in multiple surgeries, a prolonged hospital stay and a couple of years of rehab and to this day can't remember ever feeling like there was anything particularly wrong with her. She has to trust that her friends, family and doctors are telling the truth when talking about just how badly she was affected, because her own memory is telling a fake story.

What Belomoina and Batty needed was for their coaches, team managers or race organisers to step in and insist upon an independent medical examination for permission to race, with the default outcome if an injury is suspected being "No you can't" unless the medical examination is completely fine.

Concussed and brain injured athletes must be protected by their teams and the race organisation, because the very nature of the injury often means they can't protect themselves.
  • + 2
 @stikmanglaspell: Well said.
  • + 3
 @mattwragg: Not quite, the wise one needs to be the team manager or race director who stops them from going back onto the field of play. The wisest athlete of them all cannot be trusted to make his or her own decision when suffering from a concussion. The injury itself robs you of that wisdom.
  • + 6
 @wingguy:
Thank you for taking the time to present in layman's terms what is an entirely accurate assessment of concussion protocol, or what it should be, regardless of the sport.
  • + 1
 Me thinks there may be a bit of confusion here. Emily Batty and Yana Belomoina are both RedBull athletes. Belomoina suffered a big crash in training and abandoned the race. [shame on UCI, CST Team Manager, RedBull, Doctors, Parents, etc. etc......... for letting her race. When will theses complete imbeciles get it!!!] whooo rant over..... Emily crashed during the race and suffered a serious L knee laceration.

Did I miss something?

Good on ya @stikmanglaspell for speaking up.
  • + 1
 @FTOD: Yes, you missed Batty's Twitter/Instagram post on Sept 8th where she said "Bad crash & concussion while training on course Monday, helmet saved my life & feeling good enough to give it my best Saturday."
  • + 1
 @flopper: missed that, apologies.... thanks for the confirmation.

shame times 2 then ......
  • + 6
 wow and wow... and amazing photo's Mathew and Irmo!!. No Redbull TV coverage here in Canada (Ontario anyway) so have to make due with the photo's and reports unless someone wants to upload it on Youtube for us!
  • + 2
 tunnelbear. $12 to watch champs is worth it imo.
  • + 2
 Can someone explain why it's unavailable in Canada? @redbullbike
  • + 2
 @osteo I just found out that the browser Opera has a built in VPN function. Went to redbull.tv, told it I was from the USA, and I have the stream ready to roll.

@Mwmg15 The UCI licenses worlds differently than the rest of the season from my understanding, and redbull doesn't have the same rights they usually do. I think CRTC is to blame for us having to skirt around this.
  • + 3
 I like how you said you were going to spare us more photos of Batty's leg, then proceeded to post another photo right after that. Big Grin


It's okay, I am totally fine with the sight of bloo...........................................................................................................
  • + 4
 Wow.... I had no idea Emily had this injury. I watched it live and they never mentioned it, or at least I missed it if they did. Props to her as that's some tough sheet right there.
  • + 3
 The photo spells a 1000 words, of will, courage and pain. E. Batty wishing you speedy recovery and focus for next season. Hats off to all athletes representing the maple leaf!
  • + 1
 I understand the concern on here regarding concussions as it's a very serious medical condition, but I'm thinking both Belomoina and Batty were cleared by medical professionals before the race. I would hope concussions in cycling are treated just as seriously as in other sports including the NFL which finally has measures in place to check and clear a player before he may play or practice again.
  • + 1
 Pads and droppers should be mandatory, totally insane to be doing rock gardens on a hard tail with a jacked up seat in full spandex with a whisper of tread on your 200g tires.
  • + 4
 and she won on a hardtail... Nino went for FS... RESPECT
  • + 6
 Her sponsor doesn't make a FS bike. She had no choice.
  • - 11
flag BreezerXCer (Sep 9, 2017 at 20:23) (Below Threshold)
 @vikb: Vikb, you had better double check. E. Batty races for Trek who has a huge quiver of FS bikes to choose from. I'm sure she made a very calculated choice to race on her Procaliber today.
  • + 1
 Generally, the elite men, with greater power/weight ratio, will put up with a small weight and efficiency disadvantage and race their fs bike on current challenging World Cup courses, while the women are more likely to race on their hardtail bike.
  • + 9
 @BreezerXCer: the thing is... batty didn't win
  • + 3
 Why they don't wear these paper thin "Enduro" pads is beyond me... could have saved a few stitches...
  • + 2
 When it's that crazy hot, I don't blame them for skipping the pads.
  • + 9
 @driedgrape: Yeah, but seeing the XC trails becomoe more and more technical, i think that added protection sounds reasonable
  • - 17
flag YouHadMeAtDrugs (Sep 9, 2017 at 14:08) (Below Threshold)
 only pussies need pads.
  • + 3
 You could never win with pads. Especially in warm weather. 1) Riders allways wear as less as possibe, every gram counts. 2) any kind of warm clothing is very inefficient for you body ...I am sure they would rather go a bit more carefull than wear pads.
  • + 3
 @IluvRIDING: Have you tried some of these? You can hardly feel them and they are very breathable. Most weight in at below 300 grams, and f*cking EWS guys wear them on 60km days with 2000+ hm.
But as you guys point out, they wouldn't wear them without the rules requiring them. Frown
  • + 0
 I have to agree with this as the course was brutal and these riders were flying. Knee pads would have definitely helped Batty.
  • + 1
 PFP rode an FS with a dropper... and a Canyon at that, surprised it arrived on time
  • + 2
 XC WC women these days are great riders and incredibly beautiful.
  • + 0
 I'm pretty sure they make these things called knee pads...
  • + 0
 Didn't know there was a category for fastest American at the World Champs.

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