Charlie Aldridge stole the show – and clinched a slice of history – as he became the first British male to win a UCI Mountain Bike Junior Series event on foreign soil.
The 18-year-old Scot, who became a European Youth champion in 2017, topped the podium in Albstadt, Germany, getting the better of world number one Carter Woods, of Canada in a dramatic finale.
Aldridge’s success saw him followed in the footsteps of Dan Tulett, who was the first male British junior to seal a UCI Mountain Bike Junior Series victory at Hadleigh Park, Essex, in 2017.
Three cheers for trailblazer Charlie
This was the first time since 2015 that junior races have been run alongside and on a full elite World Cup.
The junior men’s race was the first to use the full course – and it started fast and never let up.
After the first lap, the lead group of Aldridge and Belgium’s world number two Lukas Malezsewski formed the lead group.
They all took turns applying pressure on the climbs and eventually, Aldridge and Woods put some space between themselves and Malezsewski.
Going into the last half of the final lap, the two were neck-and-neck but on the third-from-last corner, they came together and both hit the deck.
Aldridge was the quickest back up and onto his bike and comfortably led over the line by 75m to take the win.
“I’m really, really pleased – I don’t think it could’ve gone any better,” said the Stirling Bike Club youngster, who also currently tops the junior male standings in the HSBC UK | National Cross Country Series following his victory in the Cannock Chase last week.
“It was a really tough, fast and hilly course, which meant for some really close racing, and it was great fun to race on a World Cup course.”
Hats off for Harnden
In the junior women’s race, Hattie Harnden sealed an impressive top-six finish.
The teenager held off the challenge of Germany’s Tamara Wiedmann to clinch sixth place in 56:06.3.
Anna Flynn (59:14.3) and Anna McGorum (59:14.6) finished neck-and-neck, and were 18th and 19th respectively, while Josie Nelson came home 23rd in 58:39.2.
Isla impresses on bow
Isla Short made a fine fist of her first elite Mountain Bike World Cup race.
The 22-year-old, who rode for Scotland in last year’s Commonwealth Games, was 22nd in the senior women’s race, coming home in 1:32.27.
However, fellow Brit Annie Last did not finish.
Meanwhile, in the men’s elite competition, Grant Ferguson (1:31.24), a Scottish Commonwealth Games athlete like Short, finished in 52nd while David Duggan was 121nd.