The first World Cup of the year is always an exciting weekend. After a long off-season, riders and fans get to see whose training has paid off and who still has some work to do. With 2023 kicking off at the iconic Nove Mesto course, this year’s was one of the most exciting season openers to date.
Here are a few takeaways from a busy first weekend of cross country racing.
Cross country is on the rise
Mountain biking is attracting more attention than ever. From fans, from athletes choosing to add it to their road calendars, and from brands making new bikes.
Maybe it’s due to the attention that road stars like Mathieu van der Poel and Tom Pidcock have brought to the sport over the last. Maybe it’s because women’s racing is as relentlessly competitive as it has been for a decade. Whatever the reasons, and there are so many reasons why cross country racing is amazing to watch, it’s a thrilling time to be a fan of the sport. This should be a fantastic year!
Pidcock is not invincible
On Sunday, Tom Pidcock struggled to get along with an unexpectedly wet Nove Mesto course. It showed, again, that as natural a talent as the Brit is, even he needs some time to be at the level he, and others, expect. That level is incredibly high, of course. Olympic gold, record winning margins at World Cups, etc. But Dubau came within meters of humbling the INEOS star and Pidcock seemed to know that. In the finish area, the usually boisterous Brit was missing his usual braggadocio, humbly stating that it was a hard day, and that it was nice to win.
Women’s racing is still the most exciting
The depth of the women’s field is as staggering as ever. A young rider announced her arrival among the sport’s elite by beating, in the top-5, current quadruple world champion Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, 2022 World Cup overall winner Alessandra Keller, 2022 World Cup overall winner Loana Lecomte, and past XCC world champion and Evie Richards. The top fifteen contained Olympic champions, world champions and Olympic medalists and more young, emerging talents. Everyone loves to support a winner, but the upside of the absence of a singular star like Nino Schurter is that week-to-week racing is much more dynamic in the women’s field. And that is…
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