Our ultimate Cross-Country World Cup preview
Let the racing begin! All you need to know ahead of the first XC World Cup round in Nové Město, Czech Republic
Cross-country World Cup racing is kicking off in Nové Město this weekend – who will take the first round of the UCI World Cup? Will it be British Red Bull riders Evie Richards and Tom Pidcock, or will the current World Champions Pauline Ferrand-Prévot and Nino Schurter be climbing the podium?
We can’t wait to find out, so as the racing nears, we thought we would give you the lowdown on the different disciplines within XC, and let you know who we think are the ones to watch in the first round of the 2023 UCI Mountain Bike Cross Country World Cup.
There are three racing formats this weekend in Nové Město – Cross Country Short Track, Cross Country Olympic and Cross Country Marathon.
Cross-Country Short Track (XCC)
Cross-Country Short Track (XCC) is a type of mountain bike racing that takes place on a short, looped course usually between 1.5 and 2km long. The race is completed in a set number of laps, with the winner being the first rider to cross the finish line.
XCC is a high-intensity, fast-paced race that requires a combination of speed, endurance, and technical skill. Riders must navigate a variety of obstacles including steep climbs, technical descents and tight turns, all while maintaining a high level of speed and power output.
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Cross-Country Olympic (XCO)
Cross-Country Olympic (XCO) racing is contested at the Olympic level. This is a shorter and more intense version of Cross-Country Marathon (XCM), typically lasting 1hr 30mins and 2hrs. The courses are usually between 4 and 6km in length, and include a mix of technical terrain, steep climbs, and fast descents.
XCO racing requires a high level of fitness, technical skill, and tactical awareness, as riders must navigate the course while competing against other riders. The winner is the first rider to cross the finish line after completing a set number of laps. XCO racing is a highly competitive and physically demanding sport that requires a combination of speed, endurance, and technical ability.
Cross-Country Marathon (XCM)
The XCM format involves longer distances than XCO, with races covering a distance of about 100km and can take several hours to complete. The course often includes steep climbs, technical descents, and challenging singletrack sections.
XCM requires a high level of endurance, as well as technical skill and the ability to pace oneself over a long distance. Riders must be able to handle a variety of terrain and weather conditions, and be prepared as tech and feed zones are much wider-spaced than on XCO courses.
Riders to watch
So, who are the big-hitters in these three formats of cross-country racing? Here are our top picks and the Brits who could be leading the line.
National treasure and Red Bull athlete Evie Richards is back and injury-free! Evie has been looking solid in races leading up to this weekend, taking a win at a British Nationals round in Margam Park and beating a stacked field at Chur in Switzerland last weekend.
Other Brits to keep an eye on in the women’s field are Annie Last and Isla Short, both on new teams – Lapierre-Mavic Unity and Ghost Factory Racing teams, respectively. With the added support, it will be interesting to see how these talented riders get on in 2023.
Ineos Grenadiers and Red Bull rider Tom Pidcock will be aboard the newly developed Pinarello Dogma XC bike, as will reigning XCC, XCO and XCM World Champion Pauline Ferrand-Prévot. It’d be a safe bet on either of them taking the win in both the XCC and XCO.
There are plenty of riders who could feature on the top spot. Some worth a mention, and who are in with a shout of glory, include: reigning World Cup overall champions Alessandra Keller and Nino Schurter, former XCC world champion Sina Frei (who was looking good last weekend), Trek riders Vlad Dascălu and Olympic gold medallist Jolanda Neff could both be pushing for podium spots, and Mathias Flückiger, after a tough end to 2022, could be back with a vengeance.
Looking to the marathon, many of the big names in XCO, such as Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, Mona Mitterwallner and Annie Last can often be seen on the podiums. However, at Nové Město, the XCM is running alongside the XCO and XCC with all those racers opting to enter the short track and Olympic distances.
With this in mind, we reckon the ones to watch at Nové Město are German pair and Canyon Northwave MTB teammates, Andreas Seewald and Stefanie Dohrn. Both riders are ranked number one in the UCI rankings and are a good bet for the podium.
It’s a stacked field in both the elite women’s and men’s races. With so many riders who could take the win, it’s shaping up to be one hell of a weekend of racing.
Nové Mesto Race Schedule
All times BST
Friday 12th May
5.00pm World Cup Cross Country Short Track Elite women
5.45pm World Cup Cross Country Short Track Elite men
Saturday 13th May
7.00am World Cup Cross Country Marathon men
7.15am World Cup Cross Country Marathon women
Sunday 14th May
10.30am World Cup Cross Country Olympic Elite women
13.30pm World Cup Cross Country Olympic Elite men
Where to watch Nové Mesto
All new for 2023 the Mountain Bike World Cups will be available to watch on GCN+, Eurosport and Discovery+, all subscription services, available for about £7 a month. Live coverage is available for the XCC and XCO whereas XCM will have live timing with highlights after the event.
Rachel is a staff writer for Mountain Biking UK and a regular contributor to BikeRadar. Hailing from the north east of Scotland, you can usually find her out in the mountains running the rule over bikes and gear. She has worked all over the mountain bike industry, including on shop floors, digging fresh trails for national races, and fixing mountain bikes of all shapes and sizes. Most recently, she worked as a mountain bike mechanic and suspension specialist, further developing her knowledge of all things tech. Rachel is well-versed on what works and what doesn’t, and is no stranger to racing, competing in enduro and endurance events across the world. She’s even picked up a few podium spots along the way.
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