2019 Mtb Worlds Day 1
Team USA

U.S. National Team Wins First Medal in Team Relay Since 2007

By: Kelly Fox  August 28, 2019

Batten clocks fastest overall lap for Women

Blevins at the start of the Team Relay.

The 2019 Mountain Bike World Championships kicked off today in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada with the Team Relay. The U.S. National Team comprised of Christopher Blevins (Durango, Colo.; Specialized Factory Racing), Riley Amos (Durango, Colo.; Bear Development Team), Haley Batten (Park City, Utah; Clif Pro Team), Kate Courtney (San Francisco, Calif.; Scott-SRAM) and Keegan Swenson (Park City, Utah, Stans NoTubes Pivot p/b Maxxis) took home second place marking the first time the U.S. has won a medal in the event since 2007.

Blevins, the 2018 U23 Cross-Country Silver Medalist, led out the relay which quickly became a race of three for that lap between the U.S., Denmark and the Czech Republic. After clocking third heading into the next lap, junior rider and 2019 Junior Cross-Country National Champion, Amos, took his lap. Despite crashing mid-way through the race and slipping briefly into fourth Amos worked his way back to third in time to hand off to Haley Batten.

Batten, who won her first U23 World Cup earlier this season, made up the 33 seconds that stood between first and third, passing four-time Mountain Bike World Champion Annika Langvad and clocking the fastest lap time of the day for Women.

“I moved in behind Annika into the woods,” said Battten about her race, “and then there was a double line with rocks and I took a different line than her and barely squeaked in front of her once the lines came together which put me into first which put Kate into battling for first place with the Dutch team heading into her lap. It was a really good race.”

Defending Cross-Country World Champion, Courtney was the next rider to take the course for Team USA, battling the entire lap with a Dutch rider through the finish chute, where she handed the reins off to newly crowned Elite Cross-Country National Champion, Swenson. As Swenson powered through his lap, he entered into the feed zone in first with a 14-second gap on the next rider, but 7-time World Champion, Nino Schurter from Switzerland was quickly gaining. In the end, Switzerland took the win, with Swenson bringing home the Silver Medal for Team USA 16 seconds behind with France taking third.

“Everyone ahead of me had great laps and set it up perfectly for me and I put in the best lap I could,” said Swenson of the team’s performance, “I knew Nino was right behind me so I just tried to keep it smooth and not make a mistake. I tried to stay ahead of him as long as I could, he passed me on the last climb and I tried to go with him but couldn’t quite respond. We are psyched though, this is the first podium the team relay has had since 2007. I think this was a great opener for my race later this week, it’s a good time to get some speed on the course and test out some equipment. I feel good heading into the rest of the week.”

The Team Relay Squad hugging it out after clinching their silver medal.

“This was a great way to kick off the week,” said Marc Gullickson, Mountain Bike Performance Director for USA Cycling, “I was extremely happy to see all of our riders rise to the challenge and perform. It’s a huge boost of confidence to already have a medal leading into the rest of the week. I was particularly impressed by Haley’s performance. She has had a phenomenal season and has a great shot, along with several of our other riders, of having a top performance here at Mont-Sainte-Anne this week.”

Racing continues tomorrow with the Junior Men and Women’s Cross Country races as well as seeding for all Downhill events.

To watch the 2019 World Championships, head to Redbull.tv or to cheer for Team USA and get up to date info regarding your favorite riders, follow @USACyclingLIVE on Twitter and @USACycling on all other platforms. For more about the 2019 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships, please visit the event website at http://www.velirium.com/.

The USA Cycling 2019 Mountain Bike World Championships selection criteria for XCO is available here and the criteria for DH is available here.