Lea Davison’s Hope for the Olympics

After a bitter race on the short track course at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Nove Mesto, in the Czech Republic on Friday, this Sunday, May 16, is Lea Davison’s day to show what she can do on the longer cross country event. The Nove Mesto event is what will help determine who goes to the Olympics.

Davison, the two-time Olympian from Jericho and Sunderland, Vt., has been working with what is perhaps USA Cycling’s strongest team of women in years to move the Americans to the top of the rankings.   [See Lea Davison’s  Wild Year.] The top team can earn 3 spots in the Olympics.

Coming into May, American Kate Courtney had already earned her spot by finishing fifth at the UCI World Championships in 2019 — a qualifier for what was then the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

That left two spots open for five other top American women: Haley Batten, Lea Davison,  Hannah Finchamp, Erin Huck and Chloe Woodruff. All race for different pro teams and sponsors but have been working together. Davison has not had a pro team per se but her sponsors include Nuun, Louis Garneau, L.L. Bean and Twenty20, among others and she rides for Specialized.

Lea Davison, on her way to an 11th place finish at the UCI Mountain Biking World Championships in Mont St. Anne, Quebec, in 2019. Photo by Brooks Curran

Last week in her first UCI World Cup in Albstadt, Germany, Haley Batten raced to third place, as Courtney finished fourth. Then, yesterday on a muddy short course in Nove Mesto, Batten joined the lead pack for most of the race and ended up winning. Courtney finished ninth Woodruff in 18th, Huck in 20th, and Davison, in 32nd.

Any American who wins Nove Mesto will qualify and the longer cross country course, which will be raced on Sunday, is where Davison won a silver medal at the Mountain Bike World Championships in 2016.

While after yesterday’s race and a poor finish at Albstadt, the odds may be long for Davison, the team as a whole would not be where it is without her.

Living in Sunderland, Vt., near where the core of the U.S. Nordic team trains, Davison was inspired by how she saw Jessie Diggins, Sophie Caldwell, Ida Sargent and others work together to make their entire team stronger. This past summer, Davison mountain biked with Olympic Nordic racer Simi Hamilton, a top member of Nordic men’s team, who is married to Sophie Caldwell. She also made a point of training with  some of the other top American women mountain bike racers (Finchamp, Huck and Woodruff) in Arizona this past winter.

“I’m obsessed with the U.S. ski team. And once one person starts having success, then the next generation that comes in is like, hey, [success] is expected,” Davison told Velo News in March.

“We are good at this and we’re going to work together to push each other. I get to see that with the ski team because most of the women train in southern Vermont and they roller ski right by my house. We talk on the lawn and I see them training together. And I’m wildly jealous, because if we got to train together all the time, how powerful and cool is that? With [the ski team], they’re like, “You train alone most of the time?” I’m like yeah. We can make this a team sport. We don’t need to be siloed in different places focused on competing against each other. We can work together and celebrate each others’ success.”

It’s the same message that Davison has been preaching to the girls who ride with Little Bellas, the organization she and her sister Sabra founded to help girls gain confidence through riding. It seems to have worked.


Nove Mesto Short Course Results

1 Haley Batten (USA) Trinity Racing Mtb 0:23:35
2 Loana Lecomte (Fra) Massi 0:00:16
3 Jenny Rissveds (Swe) 0:00:21
4 Annie Last (GBr)
5 Linda Indergand (Swi) Liv Factory Racing 0:00:23
6 Laura Stigger (Aut) Specialized Racing 0:00:28
7 Evie Richards (GBr) Trek Factory Racing Xc 0:00:36
8 Sina Frei (Swi) Specialized Racing 0:00:48
9 Kate Courtney (USA) Scott-sram mtb Racing Team 0:00:49
10 Anne Tauber (Ned) Cst Postnl Bafang mtb Racing Team 0:00:51
11 Anne Terpstra (Ned) Ghost Factory Racing 0:01:04
12 Rebecca Mcconnell (Aus) Primaflor Mondraker Xsauce 0:01:10
13 Martina Berta (Ita) Santa Cruz fsa mtb pro Team 0:01:11
14 Maja Wloszczowska (Pol) Kross Orlen Cycling Team 0:01:14
15 Emily Batty (Can) Canyon Collective Factory Team 0:01:20
16 Mariske Strauss (RSA) Cst Postnl Bafang mtb Racing Team 0:01:24
17 Daniela Campuzano Chavez Peon (Mex) 0:01:40
18 Chloe Woodruff (USA) 0:01:42
19 Alessandra Keller (Swi) Thömus rn Swiss Bike Team
20 Erin Huck (USA) 0:01:43
21 Sophie von Berswordt (Ned) Jb Brunex Superior Factory Racing
22 Janika Loiv (Est) 0:01:45
23 Nicole Koller (Swi) Ghost Factory Racing 0:01:46
24 Ronja Eibl (Ger) Alpecin – Fenix
25 Eva Lechner (Ita) Trinx Factory Team
26 Lena Gerault (Fra) Vca Anjos Asterion 0:01:49
27 Barbara Benko (Hun) Maloja Pushbikers Mtb 0:01:51
28 Jitka Cabelicka (Cze) Gapp System – Kolofix mtb Racing Team 0:01:58
29 Sofia Gomez Villafane (Arg) 0:02:06
30 Rocio del Alba Garcia Martinez (Spa) Bh Templo Cafés Ucc 0:02:08
31 Elisabeth Brandau (Ger) 0:02:11
32 Lea Davison (USA) 0:02:15
33 Candice Lill (RSA) 0:02:17
34 Ramona Forchini (Swi) Jb Brunex Superior Factory Racing
35 Jolanda Neff (Swi) Trek Factory Racing Xc 0:02:34
36 Isla Short (GBr) 0:02:55
37 Haley Smith (Can) Norco Factory Team Xc 0:03:09
38 Tanja Zakelj (Slo) Unior – Sinter
DNF Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Fra) Absolute-absalon – Bmc
DNS Janka Keseg Stevkova (Svk)

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