PFP wins MTB opener, Kwiato fourth in Murcia

10 Feb 2024

PFP wins MTB opener, Kwiato fourth in Murcia

Shimano MTB Super Cup: Round 1 - La Nucia, UCI C1 Vuelta Ciclista a la Region de Murcia, 198.7km

Pauline Ferrand-Prevot got her season off to a winning start as she celebrated her 32nd birthday with victory in La Nucia.

The world champ returned to action in her first mountain bike race since August, and was quickly back in the winning groove, taking a solo victory in the opening round of the Spanish series.

The Grenadier got off to a strong start on the five-kilometre course in Alicante. After solidifying her place in the lead group, by lap two of five she had opened out a gap alongside US national champion Savilia Blunk.

The duo combined well, with Pauline edging out a small gap at the end of lap three. Lap four saw the pair back together, but heading onto the final circuit Ferrand-Prevot was able to edge clear, taking advantage of a slow rear puncture for Blunk. At the line it would be Nicole Koller who claimed the runner-up spot, with Blunk rounding out the podium.

Tom Pidcock will be in action on Sunday in the men's race, while Ferrand-Prevot is set to resume the series in round three in Banyoles.

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Saturday also saw the European road season get under way in Murcia. The Grenadiers put in a committed performance in Spain, with Michal Kwiatkowski able to take fourth place following a late attack.

The team worked hard to try and control the race, with a dangerous move going clear following the race's main climb at the half-way point.

It was all hands on deck, with the likes of Salvatore Puccio, debutant AJ August and defending winner Ben Turner all putting in big stints on the front.

Up ahead Ben O'Connor (Decathlon AG2R) and Tim Wellens (UAE Team Emirates) forged on ahead with a gap of over a minute. The final third category Alto Cresta del Gallo provided a perfect launchpad, with Omar Fraile upping the tempo for Kwiatkowski. The Pole then launched his move, drawing out a number of contenders on the run-in.

Kwiato was able to hold on for fourth, while up ahead there was no catching O'Connor who took a solo victory by 42 seconds over Jan Tratnik (Visma - Lease a Bike).