2018 XC Season Analysis: Who to Pick for Your Fantasy XC Team

May 13, 2019
by Ed Spratt  
Jolanda Neff taking the win.

With the downhill and enduro seasons well underway it is now the turn of cross country to have their opening round where we can see riders battle it out for the first time in 2019. Last season saw some great action with Nino Schurter and Jolanda Neff looking dominant all year, but at World Champs American Kate Courtney would take the rainbow jersey and mark herself as one to watch this year. For the first time, Pinkbike will be running a Fantasy XC League so before racing begins let's take a look back at last year and see who could be a good pick for your team.

2018 Results
Let's start off with the results from last year, 2018 offered some of the most exciting racing in years with competitive racing. Nino Schurter, Jolanda Neff, Annika Langvad and Emily Batty were the riders to watch all year with strong performances and consistent results.


Round 1: Stellenbosch, South Africa


Elite Men

1st. Sam Gaze: 1:30:14
2nd. Nino Schurter: 1:30:15
3rd. Maxime Marotte: 1:30:16
4th. Mathieu Van Der Poel: 1:31:24
5th. Titouan Carod: 1:31:41


Elite Women

1st. Annika Langvad: 1:33:14
2nd. Pauline Ferrand Prevot: 1:33:27
3rd. Anne Tauber: 1:33:48
4th. Helen Grobert: 1:34:29
5th. Maja Wloszczowska: 1:34:30


Round 2: Albstadt, Germany



Elite Men

1st. Nino Schurter: 1:28:07
2nd. Stephane Tempier: 1:28:23
3rd. Mathieu Van Der Poel: 1:28:47
4th. Maxime Marotte: 1:28:57
5th. Jordan Sarrou: 1:29:18


Elite Women

1st. Jolanda Neff: 1:36:17
2nd. Yana Belomoina: 1:38:33
3rd. Anne Tauber: 1:38:42
4th. Alessandra Keller: 1:38:49
5th. Elisabeth Brandau: 1:39:06


Round 3: Nove Mesto, Czech Republic


Elite Men

1st. Nino Schurter: 1:21:31
2nd. Anton Cooper: 1:21:31
3rd. Maxime Marotte: 1:21:39
4th. Lars Forster: 1:22:15
5th. Manuel Fumic: 1:22:20



Elite Women

1st. Annika Langvad: 1:20:37
2nd. Jolanda Neff: 1:20:38
3rd. Pauline Ferrand Prevot: 1:21:24
4th. Emily Batty: 1:21:41
5th. Maja Wloszczowska: 1:23:03


In previous years Albstadt has been the scene of Schurter versus Absalon. Today Schurter is challenged by the likes of Van der Poel Tempier Fl ckiger Marotte Gaze and Sarrou.


Round 4: Val di Sole, Italy



Elite Men

1st. Nino Schurter: 1:26:32
2nd. Gerhard Kerschbaumer: 1:26:38
3rd. Mathieu Van Der Poel: 1:27:41
4th. Henrique Avancini: 1:27:46
5th. Florian Vogel: 1:28:04


Elite Women

1st. Maja Wloszczowska: 1:30:51
2nd. Emily Batty: 1:31:00
3rd. Jolanda Neff: 1:31:21
4th. Pauline Ferrand Prevot: 1:31:29
5th. Gunn-Rita Dahle Flessjaa: 1:31:32


Round 5: Vallnord, Andorra



Elite Men

1st. Gerhard Kerschbaumer: 1:32:05
2nd. Nino Schurter: 1:33:18
3rd. Mathieu Van Der Poel: 1:34:11
4th. Henrique Avancini: 1:34:33
5th. Jordan Sarrou: 1:34:50


Elite Women

1st. Gunn-Rita Dahle Flessjaa: 1:22:58
2nd. Jolanda Neff: 1:23:23
3rd. Emily Batty: 1:23:45
4th. Anne Tauber: 1:24:01
5th. Maja Wloszczowska: 1:24:20


Round 6: Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada


Elite Men

1st. Mathias Flueckiger: 1:27:26
2nd. Gerhard Kerschbaumer: 1:27:41
3rd. Titouan Carod: 1:27:49
4th. Maxime Marotte: 1:28:04
5th. Luca Braidot: 1:28:31



Elite Women

1st. Jolanda Neff: 1:29:27
2nd. Annika Langvad: 1:31:19
3rd. Emily Batty: 1:31:33
4th. Yana Belomoina: 1:32:26
5th. Anne Tauber: 1:33:27


Pauline leads Neff and Batty through the woods.


Round 7: La Bresse, France



Elite Men

1st. Nino Schurter: 1:26:25
2nd. Gerhard Kerschbaumer: 1:26:37
3rd. Maxime Marotte: 1:27:57
4th. Mathieu Van Der Poel: 1:28:44
5th. Victor Koretzky: 1:28:57


Elite Women

1st. Jolanda Neff: 1:33:03
2nd. Emily Batty: 1:33:08
3rd. Annika Langvad: 1:33:30
4th. Pauline Ferrand Prevot: 1:33:36
5th. Alessandra Keller: 1:34:30


World Championships: Lenzerheide, Switzerland


Elite Men

1st. Nino Schurter: 1:29:21
2nd. Gerhard Kerschbaumer: +0:11
3rd. Mathieu Van Der Poel: +1:14
4th. Henrique Avancini: +1:53
5th. Florian Vogel: +1:54



Elite Women

1st. Kate Courtney: 1:34:55
2nd. Annika Langvad: +0:47
3rd. Emily Batty: +1:58
4th. Jolanda Neff: +2:13
5th. Maja Wloszczowska: +3:15



Anton Cooper came close to a win but overcooked it on B atrice and crashed.

Wins in 2018
Nino Schurter would take the most wins in the Elite Mens racing last year but he would have plenty of riders close behind. Sam Gaze managed to take one win away from him in Stellenbosch but won't be contending the first round this year after a head injury sustained during the Absa Cape Epic. Both Gerhard Kerschbaumer and Mathias Flueckiger took more wins from the World Champion later in the season. On more than one occasion Schurter's victories would come in the last seconds of a race in a sprint finish.

For the Elite Women, Jolanda Neff and Annika Langvad would battle at the top with Neff just edging ahead with three wins to her name. Maja Wloszczowska, Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesja and Kate Courtney would each get a win throughout the season. Although close at nearly every race Canadian Emily Batty could not manage to reach the top step of the podium in 2018, can she achieve this in 2019?


Elite Men



Nino Schurter: 5
Sam Gaze: 1
Gerhard Kerschbaumer: 1
Mathias Flueckiger: 1


Elite Women



Jolanda Neff: 3
Annika Langvad: 2
Maja Wloszczowska: 1
Gunn-Rita Dahle Flessjaa: 1
Kate Courtney: 1

Podium finishes in 2018
Podium finishes are where things become a bit more interesting. Nino Schurter would cross the line inside the top five in nearly every race, with Mont-Sainte-Anne being the only round he wasn't able to achieve this due to a mechanical. Right behind him with six podium appearances is Mathieu Van Der Poel who will be looking to build on the success of 2018 and become a real threat to the dominance of Schurter. Gerhard Kerschbaumer and Maxime Marotte would both manage five podium finishes across the 2018 season, just leaving the top five for three races each.

Jolanda Neff would match Schurter's seven podiums in what would be a pretty similar season for the two Swiss riders. Right behind was Neff's now teammate Emily Batty with six podium finishes. Annika Langvad and Maja Wloszczowska would tie with five podium finishes each. After just missing out on the series title and rainbow jersey, Langvad will be out with a vengeance in 2019.


Elite Men



Nino Schurter: 7
Mathieu Van Der Poel: 6
Gerhard Kerschbaumer: 5
Maxime Marotte: 5
Henrique Avancini: 3
Titouan Carod: 2
Jordan Sarrou: 2
Florian Vogel: 2
Sam Gaze: 1
Mathias Flueckiger: 1
Stephane Tempier: 1
Anton Cooper: 1
Lars Forster: 1
Luca Braidot: 1
Victor Koretzky: 1



Elite Women



Jolanda Neff: 7
Emily Batty: 6
Annika Langvad: 5
Maja Wloszczowska: 5
Pauline Ferrand Prevot: 4
Anne Tauber: 4
Gunn-Rita Dahle Flessjaa: 2
Yana Belomoina: 2
Alessandra Keller: 2
Kate Courtney: 1
Helen Grobert: 1
Elisabeth Brandau: 1


Top 10 finishes in 2018
To finish inside the top 10 at a World Cup cross country event is no easy accomplishment but for Nino Schurter it looks like it is since he achieved this in every single race of 2018. Although having a high price in the Fantasy League, he is a definite high points scorer for your team. The other Elite male riders could not come close to Schurter with Mathieu Van Der Poel, Henrique Avancini and Florian Vogel making it inside the top 10 just six times each.

In the Elite Women, it would be Jolanda Neff, Maja Wloszczowska and Anne Tauber who would all place inside the top 10 in every single race. Interestingly current World Champion Kate Courtney could only manage one podium position (her win in Lenzerheide) but she placed inside the top 10 for seven of the eight races showing her consistent form throughout the year. Behind her would be Annika Langvad, Alessandra Keller and Emily Batty with six races inside the top 10.


Elite Men



Nino Schurter: 8
Mathieu Van Der Poel: 6
Henrique Avancini: 6
Florian Vogel: 6
Gerhard Kerschbaumer: 5
Mathias Flueckiger: 5
Maxime Marotte: 4
Titouan Carod: 4
Anton Cooper: 4
David Valero Serrano: 4
Jordan Sarrou: 3
Stephane Tempier: 2
Manuel Fumic: 2
Luca Braidot: 2
Andri Frischknecht: 2
Carlos Coloma Nicolas: 2
Thomas Litscher: 2
Daniele Braidot: 2
Sam Gaze: 1
Maxime Marotte: 1
Lars Forster: 1
Victor Koretzky: 1
Lucas Flueckiger: 1
Nicola Rohrbach: 1
Arnis Petersons :1
Jaroslav Kulhavy: 1
Sergio Mantecon Gutierrez: 1
Gioele Bertolini: 1
Ondrej Cink: 1



Elite Women



Jolanda Neff: 8
Maja Wloszczowska: 8
Anne Tauber: 8
Kate Courtney: 7
Annika Langvad: 6
Alessandra Keller: 6
Emily Batty: 6
Pauline Ferrand Prevot: 5
Gunn-Rita Dahle Flessjaa: 4
Yana Belomoina: 4
Elisabeth Brandau: 4
Linda Indergand: 3
Githa Michiels: 3
Haley Smith: 2
Helen Grobert: 1
Catherine Pendrel: 1
Sabine Spitz: 1
Annie Last: 1
Tanja Zakelj: 1
Irina Kalentyeva: 1



Best low value riders

You have picked your favorite riders but you still have a couple of spots left. You now don't have much of your designated $1.5 million left, who should you pick? We have broken down three of the best value male and female riders to round out your fantasy teams for the XC season.



Elite Men


Jaroslav Kulhavy - $195,000
Daniele Braidot - $160,000
Ondrej Cink - $160,000



Elite Women


Linda Indergand - $250,000
Haley Smith - $225,000
Annie Last - $210,000





The Fantasy XC League is Presented by Trek and SRAM.



MENTIONS: @trek / @SramMedia




26 Comments

  • + 15
 I'm just here to cross train for dh fantasy league
  • + 11
 Helen Grobert has retired from racing and might be involved in a doping investigation. Sabine Spitz has retired from XCO.
  • + 4
 Good catch! It has been changed accordingly now.
  • + 4
 Sad to see Spitz retire, she's awesome and my 40+ champ Had a good roll at Cape Epic too.
  • + 1
 Also Jenny Rissveds and Malene Degn are competing this season and are at the startlist in Albstadt but are not included in the list for the fantasy
  • + 6
 How is it possible that last years U23 world champ, Alan Hatherly, who is racing elites this year, is not listed ?
  • + 1
 How can you find out who is registered to race in the different rounds. For example Van Der Poel is going to smash every round he enters this year, but may not do every round (rumours about road world champs etc)
  • + 1
 He is probably going to go to all the rounds as he is targeting the olympics in MTB.
  • + 4
 No fantasy is complete without Jolanda Neff And Emily Batty.
  • + 1
 If the answers were all there they wouldn't have to hold the race...they would just give out medals. There are mechanicals, weather, illness, schedule, over training/racing and many more factors you need to think about.
  • + 2
 Please add Jenny Rissveds to the list as she is making her comeback now in the weekend!!
  • + 2
 someone overtook the nino in San Marino, Italy
www.youtube.com/watch?v=1J_2OkAm5XQ
  • + 1
 It was Luca Braidot Smile
  • + 1
 It seems very unlikely that Helen Grobert will be racing at Albstadt. Probably best not pick her.
  • + 1
 I'm pretty sure that Helen have retired. Look at her facebook post. If it is the Cannondale rider.
  • + 1
 Hhmmm I don't know, maybe I will pick this guy named Nino. He looks good... Smile
  • - 2
 "Was" good - he will be on the back foot this year.
  • + 2
 What is XCO?
  • - 1
 The original DCO
  • + 1
 I would go with a Swiss team! Smile
  • + 1
 Nino. Duh.
  • - 2
 So nearly 30 000 people are in the DH league, 18000 in the EWS and less than 10 000 in XC. Sounds about right.
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