MONDAY, APRIL 3, 2023
Canadian Carter Woods led a busy weekend for the Giant Factory Off-Road Team, scoring a win and a podium finish at a U.S. Cup XC race in Southern California.
In addition to Woods’s win, Frenchman Antoine Philipp finished fourth at the Marlene Südtirol Sunshine Race, a major UCI HC event in Nalles, Italy. And in enduro racing, Youn Deniaud finished sixth at the second round of the new Enduro World Cup series to remain top-10 in the points chase.
Woods kicked off the U.S. Cup weekend at Vail Lake, California, with a win in the elite men’s short track race. The current U23 men’s national champ in Canada piloted his Anthem Advanced Pro 29 to the victory.
“It's been three years since we raced at Vail Lake, and it was good to be back under the sun in California for the first U.S. Cup,” Woods said after his win. “We started with the short track, which had a tactical layout with a wide and winding track. I was happy to get the win in the dry, dusty conditions.”
Two days later, the 22-year-old faced a deeper field for the elite men’s XC race. With UCI points on the line, Woods got off to a strong start and stayed near the front.
“I rode steady for the majority of the race, and a big surge on the last lap put me third at the end,” said Woods, who wore his Rev Pro helmet and Charge Pro shoes to land the podium. “Overall, I’m super happy with the weekend, to be back in America, and to have another U.S. Cup in two weeks in Fayeteville, Arkansas.”
While Woods was in the U.S., his XC teammates Antoine Philipp and Jens Schuermans were in Italy for an important European UCI race in Nalles. Philipp was impressive on his Anthem Advanced Pro 29, staying near the front against tough competition.
“I knew I had to get off to a good start but without going too deep so I could save energy for the critical moments of the race,” said the 25-year-old Frenchman. “I managed to do the first two laps in P2, which was the ideal scenario for me, and tried to recover as much as possible on the downhills.”
The final podium placings came down to a battle for the top positions on the last lap. “With two laps to go, everyone emptied the tank,” Philipp said. “I was patient so as not to miss the right chance, but when Joshua [Dubai] attacked, I was a bit blocked in P4. We pushed hard on the last lap to close the gap, and the race finished with a sprint where I finished fourth.”
Philipp’s teammate Schuermans, fresh off a win last week at the KTM Kamptal Trophy in Austria, also made the top-10 in Nalles with a seventh-place finish.
Top-10 World Cup for Deniaud
The enduro squad was in Tasmania for the second weekend in a row, competing at round two of the new Mountain Bike Enduro World Cup series in Derby. Following a historic showing at the opener the previous week, where Luke Meier-Smith won the elite men’s race at the first-ever Enduro World Cup, the team faced wet and wild conditions in Derby.
Torrential rains left the terrain in Derby muddy, slick and unpredictable. Meier-Smith came down with a cold before the race, but he persevered to finish in the top-20 on his Reign Advanced Pro—enough to keep him third overall in the points.
“Knowing my body was struggling, I really just tried to enjoy the stages as much as I could,” Meier-Smith said. “Wearing the leader’s jersey for the day was such an experience, and the Aussie fans shouting my name was so awesome—it definitely kept me going. I started to feel a bit better at the end of the day, finishing fifth and seventh on the last two stages.”
The team’s top finisher in Tasmania was Youn Deniaud. The French rider finished sixth, his second consecutive top-10 after a ninth place showing at the opener a week earlier.
“The conditions were difficult after the heavy rain, but I found the limit and rode consistently,” said Deniaud. “Overall, I had a great race without any big mistakes. My fitness was good, and my Reign Advanced Pro was on point all weekend thanks to our mechanics. I’m stoked to take sixth here and be inside the top-10 overall as we head to Europe for the next World Cups.”
Also representing Giant at the Derby race was 19-year-old Canadian Lief Rodgers. The promising 19-year-old has a diverse background in XC, cyclocross and DH racing, and this year he is targeting the Enduro World Cup for the Giant Canada squad. He's off to a solid start and finished fourth in the U21 men's race at Derby.