Team USA Rides to Silver at 2021 World Championship Team Relay
August 25, 2021
Blevins, Johnson, Blunk, Holcomb, Courtney, and Amos sprint to second for Team USA.
VAL DI SOLE – TRENTINO, Italy – Today the Team Relay kicked off the 2021 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships. Each country’s team consisted of a rider from each category, Men and Women Elite, Men and Women U23, and Men and Women Junior. The team of Christopher Blevins (Durango, Colo.; Trinity Racing), Bradyn Johnson (Jordan, Utah; Bear National Team), Savilia Blunk (Inverness, Calif.; Orange Seal Racing), Ruth Holcomb (Durango, Colo.; Bear National Team), Kate Courtney (Kentfield, Calif.; SCOTT-SRAM Factory Racing), and Riley Amos (Durango, Colo.; Bear National Team) did a lap each of the XC course at Val di Sole Resort. Blevins, Courtney, Amos, Haley Batten (Park City, Utah; Trinity Racing), and Keegan Swenson (Park City, Utah; Santa Cruz Bicycles) led the team to a silver medal at the 2019 Team Relay World Championships.
The team relay is a unique event where the team manager gets to choose the order of the relay. This means one country might start with its elites, others may start with their juniors. Gaps can be closed at any moment and it really isn’t over, until it’s over. Team USA started off with Elite Men’s rider Blevins. Blevins was able to avoid a crash early on in the lap and stay with the lead group. Halfway through the lap, Blevins was sitting second behind Italy but made the pass and got a gap putting Team USA in the lead on lap one. Next up was Junior XC National Champion Johnson who had a fast and consistent lap upholding the lead for Team USA. Johnson finished his lap in 13:13 and tagged in U23 Women’s XC National Champion Blunk. Blunk was flying through the technical sections and rode with ease as Sweden was putting down a heater of a lap. Sweden managed to go from seventh to first in that third lap, but Blunk was right on their wheel.
Holcomb was up next and has proved to be a dominant force in the Junior ranks. Halfway through lap four, Holcomb was sitting top three with Sweden and the Czech Republic. On the next part of the lap, Holcomb dropped her chain a few times losing a few spots. She crossed the line in seventh leaving Courtney with some work to do. Courtney is no stranger to the Team Relay. She picked off riders one by one moving the team up to third. The crowds were cheering loud for Team USA to fight for a podium spot. Amos came out of the exchange area flying. He knew it was all or nothing. France was in the lead with quite a gap, but Amos knew he could catch Germany. It all came down to the last part of the lap, Amos came through the last turn alongside Germany and it was a sprint to the finish line with Team USA taking it!
With this being Amos’ second time in the Team Relay, he was excited to grab another medal. Amos said, “Team USA had a very similar relay team and got second at Mont Sainte Anne in the relay. That was my very first time in a world championship event so to do another second place two years later is incredible. It feels great to start the week like this.”
France won their seventh Team Relay World Championships title with a 48-second lead. Team USA added another silver medal to the history books since the inception of the event in 1999.
The Team Relay is a great way for riders to get a feel for the course at speed before their XC races. Courtney explains, “I think this is the perfect way to start off this week. For me, it’s been about just getting back into my rhythm and finding that form, but also the flow on course and to be a part of the team here is a really special thing. I think it’s really the perfect preparation for all of our riders to be able to give their best in the cross-country races, but also to have a fun way to work together and do something great in the name of Team USA.”
Amos couldn’t agree more saying, “Getting to do a lap of the course full speed and at race pace is super beneficial. Having your mind on the cross-country race, you can see how the course feels at race speed. It feels really good to blow out the cobwebs after a chunk of no reason for me. I’m ready to give everything I have on Saturday.”
All of these riders will be back on course throughout the rest of the week. Tomorrow, the juniors will race the cross-country, with the elites taking on Short Track.
Courtney admits that she has had a rough season, but she is focused on the cross-country race and will give it her all. Courtney said, “I’m really looking forward to the cross-country race, that’s definitely my focus and what I’m here to participate in. For me, I think this season has had some ups and downs, but of course, in the second half [of the season], we have a bit less pressure. We don’t have the Olympics in front of us, and it’s a chance to remember what we love so much about the sport. With less pressure and expectation I usually can surprise myself.”
Cross-Country Team Relay
- France 1:25:51
- United States of America +0.48
- Germany +0.49
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ABOUT USA CYCLING (usacycling.org)
USA Cycling is the national governing body for the sport of cycling and oversees the disciplines of road, track, mountain bike, cyclocross, and BMX. USA Cycling’s mission is to champion accessibility, participation, and excellence in the sport of cycling to make more Americans healthier, happier, and better on two wheels while achieving sustained international racing success. USA Cycling supports cyclists at all levels, from those just beginning in the sport and participating in fun rides to international caliber racers. The organization identifies, develops, and selects cyclists to represent the United States in international competition through the support of kids’ and interscholastic programs, amateur bike racing and grassroots development programs, and the provision of critical infrastructure to run organized racing. USA Cycling has a membership of 100,000, annually sanctions over 2,500 events, and is a proud member of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC).