The good 2019 season consisted of great mountain biking events with successes and disappointments, and of thousands of training hours on trails and roads and in the gym. The season included ten tough races abroad and three at home.
National championships of Cross-country Olympic (XCO) and Cross-country Eliminator (XCE) were highlights of the season. My result was double championship, that is, victory in both events. And both after very intense and exciting race.
Photo: On the sunny podium of National Champs XCE 2019: (2nd) OPP's Niko Heikkilä, (1st) HyPy's Sakari Lehtinen and (3rd) CIF's Andre Haga
For XCO, this was my third championship: I won the first golden medal in the junior class (U19) in 2011, the second in the men's elite class in 2016 and the third in this year.
Wins felt good.
In international arenas, I made significant progress in the XCO World Cup in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic. I finally achieved my long-term goal of riding all rounds of the World Cup.
Photo: The starting light is about going out at the Nove Mesto World Cup 2019
In Sweden, Norway and Denmark I competed in a total of eight competitions. Some technical difficulties affected the pace of the early part of the season, but in June in Denmark and in August in Norway I started to gain momentum: fourth place in both races.
Photo by Cykelkanalen.se: Lugnet XCO 2019, uphill Sakari Lehtinen
I have done as well only once earlier in XCO races of Nordic countries, namely in 2016 in Sweden Vargarda. And once even better, namely third place at the Nordic Championships in 2017 on the same track.
Currently it is evident that Finland will not be qualified for mountain biking Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. At the moment we do not have the minimum three racers to collect UCI ranking points
Photo: XCO-SM-2019 on the left (3rd) Sasu Halme from Motion Finland, backwards (2nd) Samuel Pökälä from TWD-Länken and on the right (1st) Sakari Lehtinen from HyPy
But XCO is an endurance sport and the journey continues. In 2024 the Olympic Games are held in Paris and in 2028 in Los Angeles. Finland will be represented there once our current drivers will endure and all biking youngsters are encouraged and talented XCO riders get a proper chance for compete.
Cheer, for all of us.
Photo: In the start box with Jaroslav Kulhavyn
Photo: Official training on the wet track
Photo: Sakari Lehtinen UCI World Cup XCO 2019 Lenzerheide Switzerland
Photo: First start as the national champion
Photo: On A-line of a uphill
Photo: On A-line of a downhill
Photo: Race analysisi
Photo: On the podium of Vierumäki XCO: (2)Samuli Visuri CCH, (1)Sakari Lehtinen HyPy and (3)Antti-Ville Koivisto KPS
Photo: On the home stretch of the victorious XCO national championchips of Finland
Photo: XCO-2019 podium of national championchips XCO (2nd)Samuel Pökälä, (1st)Sakari Lehtinen and (3rd) Sasu Halme
Photo: The start of the final of XCE national chanpionships 2019: Sakari Lehtinen, Andre Haga, Henri Ojala ja Niko Heikkilä
Photo: On the sunny podium of XCE national championships: (2nd) Niko Heikkilä, (1st) Sakari Lehtinen and (3rd) Andre Haga
Photo Mtbfoto.se: Friday - XCT
Photo Mtbfoto.se: Saturday - C1 class XCO
Photo Mtbfoto.se: Sunday - another XCO, C2-class
Photo Cykelkanalen.se: Lugnet XCO 2019, uphill
Photo Cykelkanalen.se: Lugnet XCO 2019, downhill
Photo: UCI World cup 2019 in Nove Mesto
Photo: At the topmost bend
Photo: Sakari Lehtinen - XCO World Cup Nove Mesto 2019
On podium in Vårgårda CK MTB 2019. Photo Hannu Heikkilä
Photo MTBFOTO.SE: Klippingracet 2019
Photo MTBFOTO.SE: Klippingracet 2019
Photo MTBFOTO.SE: Klippingracet 2019, last round
First few races of 2019 are now published, see races-page. Races will start at Sater, Sweden.
My goal remains the same as last season: to improve my top UCI ranking of 179 of 2016.
Photo: Start of Klippingracet 2017, with the national champion of Sweden