5 Things We Learned At Les Gets World Cup XC 2019

Jul 17, 2019
by Ed Spratt  
The dust was flying as the women took off.

The fourth round of the World Cup XC in Les Gets provided some exciting racing, here are four things we noticed from the sidelines:

1. 80% of the top 10 women were born in the 1990s.

Kate Courtney was born in 1995, Jolanda Neff was born in 1993, Pauline Ferrand Prevot was born in 1992, and Sina Frei was born in 1997. Elisabeth Brandau, born in 1985 is the only rider in the top 5 who wasn't born in the 90s.

After winning all but two Under 23 races last year, Sina Frei came into 2019 looking for a greater challenge in the Elite ranks. Frei made the jump up to Elite despite still being young enough to compete in Under 23 category and so far she has found great success among the best in the world. She currently sits 5th in the overall with 11th, 4th, 9th and 4th place finishes in the four rounds raced this year. Frei is definitely going to be a rider to watch in the next few years and she will be favourite for the Rainbow stripes when she moves back down to her age category for Worlds in September.

Sina Frei has had no problems making the transition from U23 to Elite. Frei took fourth today.

2. Short track dominance can keep you in the fight for the overall.

Mathieu Van der Poel had an amazing start to the year getting the most points of any rider in rounds one and two but decided to skip the third round in Vallnord. For Les Gets he returned and, with the track being far less technical than previous rounds, everyone had predicted a good result. When Friday's Short Track race came around he proved everyone right with a mind-blowing display of speed as he took a commanding win. Sunday's race didn't quite go to plan though, and he ended in a rather disappointing 16th place despite some blistering lap times.

Add up all his results and he still sits in 3rd for the 2019 overall title. He is only 16 points behind Henrique Avancini and 260 off Nino Schurter though and is showing that the addition of valuable short track overall points can definitely shake up the leaderboard at the end of the season.

Mathieu Van der Poel couldn t find the legs that pedaled him to an XCC win the other night.

3. Things can change drastically from one season to the next.

Emily Batty had a great 2018 season and finished the year third overall but when it comes to 2019 she hasn't had the best first half of the year. Her results are noticeably down this year just as she seemed to be on the cusp of challenging for the overall title. So what's gone wrong? Well, a few weeks ago she described how she felt like she "fell on [her] face and cracked wide open both mentally and physically." While we don't have any details as to what has been holding her back, she's clearly been deeply affected by something this off season that is seriously affecting her performance.

A 13th in the short track here showed the first shoots of her 2018 form and she backed it up with her best result of the year in 23rd. Hopefully, she'll be feeling back to her normal self and up at the pointy end of the field before too long.

Emily Batty speeds through the Spanish pines.

4. Nino Schurter has been one of the world's fastest riders for 15 years

We last visited Les Gets 15 years ago for the 2004 World Championships and it's probably best remembered for Julien Absalon taking the title on home turf but in the Junior race, Nino Schurter also crossed the line first in his first year racing on the international circuit.

Fast forward to 2019 and Schurter took the win again with a commanding final lap that saw him create a significant gap to Kerschbaumer who had no answer for the Swiss' final burst of speed. Last weekend's race also saw Nino reach 32 World Cup wins, putting him only one win behind Absalon's all-time record. It has taken Schurter 15 years but he's finally on the verge of equalling the French legend.

Classic Nino whip on lap three.

5. You can have children and consistently stand on the World Cup podium

Last year we saw Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå stand on the top of the World Cup podium in Vallnord and Elisabeth Brandau got a podium in Albstadt. Again this year, in Les Gets, Elisabeth Brandau proved that was no fluke with a third place, while Nino Schurter, who also has a daughter, won the men's race.

Elisabeth Brandau has had a stellar weekend. Third place for the German.

MENTIONS: @mdelorme / @andy9


  • + 68
 There's a slight difference between the effect of children on men and children on women wouldn't you say?
  • + 7
 You mean financially or physically?
  • - 4
flag excavator666 (Jul 17, 2019 at 5:31) (Below Threshold)
 @weetabix-man what's you're point?
  • + 22
 Agree. Also 80% were born in the 90s? Well that puts them in their mid 20s.... wouldnt exactly call that voodoo guys
  • + 21
 @excavator666: thats its harder to compete after giving birth. Then being a dad. Anything else you need explained, genius?
  • + 4
 @excavator666: Pregnancy takes even the most well looked-after (team-wise) women out of competition for a year or more. Many elite female athletes delay starting a family until they retire for that reason.
  • - 1
 @pargolf8: That's why PB were mentioned 3 women and only 1 man. Why is the same point being raised here as a counter point?
  • + 2
 Men are from Mars and Woman are from Venus.
  • + 1
 @LeDuke: untrue. Kristen Armstrong had a kid and was back on the bike in a few months. I raced XC with a younger lady who had given birth 6 weeks before the race.
  • - 2
 @pargolf8: not after two months. It's physically equal at that point. And when it comes to parenting, being a dad is the same amount of work and stress as being a mom so we can throw that side of it out.
  • + 7
 @thesharkman: yes im sure after having another human being literally feeding on you for 9 months, after an additional 2, all things are physically equal....smurt
  • + 2
 @pargolf8: Agreed, I would guess that 80% of the riders competing were born in the 90s
  • + 55
 Who'd have thought that most competitors would be aged between 20 and 29. Deadly levels of insight.
  • + 3
 Captain Obvious always delivers the best hindsights, ähhh insights I mean Big Grin
  • + 22
 "Riders in the prime of their life excelling in a sport that requires you to be in the prime of your life"
  • + 3
 Female racers reach their peak well after males do. Gunn Rita Dahle and Sabine Spitz, among others, were sucessfull into their 30s and beyond. However, with the short duration, more explosive modern XCO, it's natural that younger athletes are more suited to the effort than older ones.
  • + 4
 I'm also shocked to realize during this world cup that Nino has been one of the fastest riders for the last 15 years. We've been following him for 15 years but never realized he's actually one of the fastest riders.
  • + 1
 No. 6: Kate Courtney is doing pretty well this year.
  • + 1
 @Gareth-R: Great Onion article headline
  • + 24
 It would be good to do a comparison of Ninos bike 15 years ago vs now. Judging from the picture above, those bars are so narrow Im getting twitchy just looking at them.
  • + 5
 Almost not enough room for the race number plate!
  • + 1
 Not to mention the fork travel...
  • + 1
 People will be saying the same thing 20 yeas from now when everyone's riding on 1,000 mm bars.
  • + 9
 Why is the article implying that MVDP would be better and less technical tracks? Have you seen his dirt jump videos? Or his DH park ones? Or his whip at Les Gets? Cmon guys
  • + 3
 Mind you this is a "5 things we learned" article which basically is just what us PB visitors tend to do in the comment section. That is, they watch the race, hide behind the keyboard and fire away. I'm pretty sure that they haven't actually talked to MvdP. In the Dutch media he has been pretty clear already before the race. He'd been training at altitude and wasn't fully recovered. It could go both ways. One minute he feels great, then the next moment he feels the worst ever. Come race time, he didn't feel good and his result showed. That's the whole challenge of supercompensation. You expect to recover at a certain rate and if it goes slower, you're still down instead of at your peak come race day. It seems he's more after winning titles than individual races though. He really wants to do well at the European championship next weekend and he wants to win gold at the Olympics next year.
  • + 6
 Because dirt jumps =/= technical ability when completely blown at race speed. If you don't get it, well, you just don't get it and I can't help you. Nino Schurter isn't the best technical rider in the world, but when it comes to producing world class power AND then riding at an extremely high level when going down, he's incredible.
  • + 1
 @LeDuke: Yea, so is MVDP though. I didnt get the comment that about him being a favorite BECAUSE the track is less technical as well.
  • + 3
 @scissors888: Last season, and I'd say to a lesser extent this season, he was losing time to Schurter on technical sections. However, I think decreased technical sections simply gives him more opportunity to put his massive power down, and theoretically is an advantage for him.
  • + 3
 @scissors888: I /think/ the implication is that Nino has an edge on him with technical ability, if only for the fact that MVDP splits his time between more disciplines and MVDP might have an edge with raw power. As a result, a less technical course would level the playing field between the two a bit.

In any case, it was a vague statement that could have benefited from more analysis and explanation
  • + 4
 "While we don't have any details as to what has been holding her back, Emily's clearly been deeply affected by something this off season that is seriously affecting her performance."

Said details include:

1. her employer signing her top rival to the same team (must be cozy)

2. her employer not wanting to pay what Emily felt she was worth

3. K E T O
  • + 1
 Pretty sure you nailed this one. Notice you never see Emily and Jolanda in Social Media posts together... (duh, who could have seen that coming)
  • + 7
 We learned that Nino’s whips still look weird
  • + 27
 I challenge you to do a better one with your saddle that high
  • + 3
 @Mattin: or with your saddle in normal position even
  • + 4
 Sorry, but we didn't learn No. 2 because we already knew that from Annika Langvad.
  • + 2
 Actually Schurter has been one of the world's fastest riders for at least 16 years. His first year on international circuit was in 2003. He finished 2nd behind Kulhavy on World Champs in Lugano.
  • + 4
 Can we get Sina added to the Fantasy XC team now!
  • + 1
 Wonder, what would happen if Nino decided one day give Enduro races a go. Could imagine, he could score proper results there as well.
  • + 2
 Proof that a Keto diet isn't for athletes?
  • + 0
 clearly one athlete is a big enough sample size to proof that.
  • + 1
 @scissors888: When a former top3 racer struggles to finish in the top half of the pack it at least raises questions.
  • + 2
 Anyone with a basic grasp of diet and human physiology would know me to is a dumb idea, much less for an endurance athlete.
  • - 1
 @toprace: Too much social media and man bashing and not enough training from Emily this year.
  • + 2
 @irishpitbull: Man bashing?
  • + 2
 @toprace: I didnt get that comment either. Too much social media, never mind the fact that its probably stated in her contract with Trek and Redbull that she needs to be doing the Social content.
  • - 1
 Surprised Nino could win anything on 26" wheels. I mean...
  • + 12
 Fake news. Back when 26" was the only adult XC wheelsize, no one was winning races.

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