5 Things We Learned at Snowshoe XC World Cup 2019

Sep 11, 2019
by Ed Spratt  
Courtney out front for the first lap.

The final World Cup in Snowshoe provided some extraordinary racing all weekend and the XC was no exception. Here are five things we noticed from the sidelines.

1. Nino Schurter will have to wait until next year to break Julien Absalon's record 33 wins.

Not many riders can be as dominant as Nino Schurter and despite some early-season results that suggested he wasn't up to speed the Swiss rider has proved he is still one of the greatest XC riders. Schurter took the overall for the seventh time just a week after securing his 8th World Championships title and he also took his first-ever XCC short track win. He may not have taken his 33rd World Cup win after teammate Lars Forster sprinted past him just before the line but to comes back from a 30-second deficit after a puncture and be back at the front of the race shows the incredible nature of his riding talent. We can't wait to see what he will bring to 2020.

Nino has got the overall in the bag considering Van der Poel is missing from this round but a win would be ideal nonetheless.

2. The women's field is deeper than ever.

The fight for the top five spots in the overall came down to the final race and Snowshoe was the host to the thrilling conclusion to one of the most exciting seasons of racing in recent years. There was a whole host of riders who could take the win with some incredible displays of prowess from the top women, including wins from Kate Courtney, Pauline Ferrand Prevot, Jenny Rissveds and Anne Terpstra and podiums from Jolanda Neff, Haley Smith, Rebecca McConnell, Elisabeth Brandau, Anne Tauber, Sina Frei and more. Kate Courtney was the standout rider for the first half of the season, with three World Cup wins, while Pauline Ferrand Prevot wrapped up the season strong with two World Cup wins and the World Championship title.

An elated Pauline Ferrand Prevot takes another win.

3. Mathieu Van Der Poel's second place overall comes despite missing two rounds.

He may have missed the two World Cups but the Dutch rider still had an impressive second-place finish in the Elite Men's overall showing his dominance in both the XCC Short Track and the XCO. MVDP won every XCC he entered this year and managed to take two XCO wins as well. His main goal for 2020 will be the Olympic Gold and it is rumoured he will then switch permanently to road riding but we hope he stays in mountain biking for a little while longer because he could be the sport's next greatest rider.

Mathieu Van Der Poel lead Nino Schurter out in the last lap and stayed there.

4. Plenty of punctures.

It has been a while since we saw so many punctures in a race and the finale in Snowshoe provided plenty of drama as some of the top riders suffered from flat tyres. Ondrej Cink truly had a disaster of a Sunday when he flatted twice and ended what had been a great season with a 54th place. A number of riders have begun using inserts in their tyres but it seems it was not enough against the American rocks as even Schurter who is widely known to use protection in his tyres suffered from a puncture that saw him fighting for the lead.

Nino Schurter had a hell of a race. Flatted took back the lead and then finished second to team mate Lars Forster. Nino took the overall.

5. The track may not have been technical but it did provide great racing.

Coming from Mont-Sainte-Anne any XC track is going to look disappointing but in Snowshoe's defense, we did get some intense racing despite the lack of technical features. With the incredibly fast lap times, racers were probably glad they didn't have to face anything too challenging after blasting up one of the many steep climbs on track. At least we did get to see some technical sections and it wasn't quite as bad as the gravel and wooden bridges we saw at Albstadt. For 2020, we have riders battling it out on a brand new course for the Tokyo Olympics and it will be interesting to see if they can make a course to test riders.

Doesn t it just make you want to ride your bike.


  • 154 0
 Pinkbike, keep the XC race and tech coverage flowing.
  • 7 0
 Good work!
  • 30 0
 Women's XC racing was really great to watch this year (as a complement to the DH of course)
  • 1 0
 @spenceratx: absolutely agree!
  • 67 0
 Despite Nino not taking the win, he showed great sportsmanship and appeared very excited for his teammate. Great to see top riders being humble even in defeat (especially with a huge milestone on the line).
  • 12 21
flag Clem-mk (Sep 11, 2019 at 12:32) (Below Threshold)
 Looks more like "OK let's take this one mate" than a defeat to me. He clearly didn't fight for the win in the very end.
  • 17 1
 @Clem-mk: Maybe because he was gassed...
  • 10 0
 from seeing the way Nino always mentions Lars throughout the season I get the impression they are great team mates but knowing how hard Nino fights i'd say this one was simply a case of Nino was shot and Lars was feeling good.
  • 6 0
 @Clem-mk: there is absolutely no way that Nino gifted Lars that win. Lars won that fair and square. Look at the number 1 item on this list "Nino will have to wait for next year to equal Absalon" Nino fought with everything he had to take the win - he was spent
  • 9 0
 @Clem-mk: I was ther, Nino turned it inside out to get back up to the lead group after the his flat. His effort on the last was lap was visible in his face as he rode by. I saw zero evidence of sandbagging.
  • 2 1
 @Clem-mk: I agree to a point. I think when he took of, he gave it a shot and then sat up. If that had been anyone else there is no way he sat up like he did all the way to the line. He definitely let him have it once he passed him and his initial defense didnt work.
  • 4 0
 @mfoga: ...didn’t look much different than when MVDP turned on the jets and passed Nino in the couple races he won this year. Schurter’s closing strength in final laps has been his Achilles this year if there was a weakness.
  • 37 2
 #7 World Cup racing needs to return to Snowshoe.
  • 33 3
 #8 Mont Saint Anne needs a friggin' helicopter
  • 4 0
 Hell yeah it does! Also I lost a go pro while partying in the finish area and then walking back up the mountain. Anyone on here talk to anyone who picked one up?
  • 12 0
 #6 there still is not a North American male to challenge the podium position in XC. What is taking so long?
  • 48 1
 You're on the internet commenting instead of doing your patriotic duty and making a baby! Wink
  • 13 0
 Give Disera a few seasons. He'll get there.
  • 5 2
 All the top athletes are playing other sports! Cycling doesn't even crack the top 10.
  • 4 1
 Usac has invested soooo much in Xc over the last 20 years, and slim on DH, yet the gravity riders keep coming with solid results on World Cup. Imagine if we invested in gravity!
  • 5 0
USAC May have invested in XC racing in the last couple of years. Before that, their “support” of the Olympic level XC racing was almost nothing. They’re while line about our membership dues going to support that was absolute crap.
  • 22 0
 Maybe in a couple years after the high school MTB leagues graduate more kids?
  • 1 0
 @stikmanglaspell: Dude! Totally on point
  • 4 0
 @amedee360: Kate Courtney got her start racing in NICA I believe (seems like at least her dad was always an avid cyclist which helps), so I agree that we’ll see a male contender come up soon. Keegan Swenson has been getting better and better every year too and is just 25.
  • 1 0
 I think because in men’s cycling in the US, road pays so much more than mtb. In women’s cycling, American cycling fans know names of famous mtb women, but don’t have a clue about road racing (I’d bet sponsorship dollars mirror that), so its a no brainer for American women to race mtb. I think there’s needs to be more mtb coverage in the US with more money before American men are in the hunt in WC XCO. On the other end, we just had an American from Durango who started with mountain biking win a mountain stage in the Vuelta, which shows the talent is in the US
  • 2 2
 Just bad seed. They cant help it Smile
  • 8 2
 Great event at SnowShoe for sure. Everyone was having a good time and the courses were pretty amazing and with excellent spectator vantage points. I just wish there were a few more jumbotrons to view the DH runs from at least 1 or 2 spots along the course; or at the very least, speakers to listing to commentators race run commentary.
  • 8 0
 Mathieu van der Poel is a beast.
Look at this: www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrbgzoPCdHc&frags=pl%2Cwn
He should stick to XC!
  • 6 0
 I wish he would stick to XC too, but my guess is after the olympics, especially if he wins a gold medal, he will join a road team in 2023 and focus on trying to win a grand tour.
  • 12 0
 And let's be realistic, mountain biking still pays chump change compared to road salaries.
  • 6 0
 @Powderface: well, it’s one hell of a season for him. World champ Veldrijden (is that CX in North-America?), winning Amstel Gold and Brabantse Pijl for instance. The Netherlands is rooting for him, and proudly so!
  • 2 0
 Based on that win yesterday he should stick to road, no?
  • 1 0
 His power is off the charts. He drops Nino/Albasini/etc at will in XCC. I’ve never seen anyone lead out sprints at the world tour level on the road and hold on for the win. He will win many spring classics on the road.
  • 2 1
 @rsheb79: or get caught in a doping scandal.
  • 3 1
 @pcassingham: As a one-day event rider, he is light years from grand tour contention. While he is young and explosive, he would be wise to gun for even bigger one-day classics like Fleche Wallonne and the true Monuments: Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liège, & Lombardia.
From there, trying to contend for shorter stage races like Paris-Nice is a realistic next step to see if he can contend with the sport's best stage racing specialists.
The kid has a ton of talent, but road racing is so specialized, he's going to have to focus if he wants to win even as much, say as Erik Dekker.
  • 2 0
 @Veloscente: He is in second by 3 seconds in the Tour of Britain (before today's TT stage) so he is showing he can hang at least on this shorter stage race. He is going against some pretty big names too and even has a stage win, but it does show he can't just go in there and beat everyone like he did in XCC this year.
I fully agree with the bigger one-day classics and that he will really have to focus to change to be a GC rider.
That said, I think he can do it, if it is what he ultimately wants to do.
  • 1 0
 @pcassingham: he's 6'2 and 160lbs...the chances of him being a GC contender in grand tours are slim.
  • 1 0
 @clink83: While I agree that MVP has many hurdles to clear before his road palmares grow to match the advanced hype, stature is nowhere near his biggest issue: Bradley Wiggins is 6'3" and was able to pare his racing weight down from over 180lbs into the 150s for his TDF win. VDP has the genetics of a grand tour contender, but right now, his singular talent is the ability to put out a massive surge of power over several minutes. This gives him an excellent chance of winning some of the most prestigious one day classics in the sport with the form and physique he already has. To sacrifice all that opportunity to take a blind stab at grand-tour contention is something his deeply experienced family is far too wise to do at this stage in his young career.
  • 5 0
 This was my first UCI mountain bike event in person, but I thought a few of the sections looked pretty technical...at least more than I was expecting. It was great seeing riders hit these sections at speed.
  • 2 0
 I didn't see the race at all, but that first photo above seems pretty technical.
  • 2 1
 Nearly the entire course was basically a gravel road. There were short sections of extreme gnar but they were the exception. Having been riding snowshoe for 20 years, it was quite disappointing. There is so much great singletrack but the course didn't use any of it. I'm not too knowledgable about UCI XC though. Perhaps there are requirements that made it hard to put together a real track.
  • 1 0
 @dfiler: The XC course was laid out based on the camera placements. As you know, there is plenty more trail and technical terrain available to extend and modify the course in the future. The Nationals course had quite a bit more single track and was certainly not regarded as too tame.
  • 5 1
 It would be good to understand for the folks who flatted, what they were actually running, and what the nature of the tire failures were. I am sure Nino really wishes he had those 30 seconds back. Inserts? For XC racing? Why not run a stronger, slightly heavier casing instead of adding even more grams with an insert? And avoid flatting in the first place? Maybe I am missing something here.
  • 1 0
 Ya wonder if they switch between a super light tire + insert vs an exo type casing without insert depending on the track. More impact protection with an insert vs more cut protection with a heavier tire. There might also be a slight difference in rolling resistance.
  • 3 0
 Clearly the rolling resistance of the lighter tyre matters.
  • 9 1
 "Why not run a stronger, slightly heavier casing instead of adding even more grams with an insert?"

Inserts add weight, but little to no rolling resistance. Weight is less of a problem than rolling resistance, and stronger casings add both weight and rolling resistance - especially the latter.

It's a gamble. Teams try to get away with the fastest, lightest set-up that will survive the race. Usually the gamble pays off. Sometimes it doesn't.

That said, there's a lot at stake and there has to be a way to make light, fast tires that survive better than this.
  • 3 1
 @R-M-R: Inserts add weight and rolling resistance.
  • 3 1
 @billreilly: Weight, yes, but very little rolling resistance. Less than if the tire were to gain equivalent protection via a reinforced casing.
  • 6 0
 @R-M-R: not to mention the other benefit of the insert, which is making a flat rideable - you get the low rolling resistance of the light casing, plus some insurance in case a flat does happen. If Nino has to run the bike back to the feed zone instead of pedaling he's off on the podium altogether.

Overall the light tire + insert system seems great. But hopefully the tires themselves can get better too.
  • 1 0
 inserts provides lots of sidewall support so you can run even lower pressure, plus don't need extra wide rims
  • 3 0
 What price would you have got at the start of the season for Nino to 'only' win 2 XCO races?

And I agree with an earlier point about more races; the World Cup is about 30 years old, yet still can't manage a season with a decent number of races, i;e 10 - 12. The UCI are obviously asking too much for their hosting fees. When will they wake up?
  • 1 0
 UCI asking for hosting fees? I'm not sure that's how it works... I'd wager it's a pretty mutual deal, the host venue gets hotel rooms sold, and the UCI gets a venue to race at.
  • 2 0
 @Jamminator: The last info I saw on this was a few years old, but at that time the hosting fees payable to the UCI by the organizers for MTB World Cup events were in the ballpark of $25,000. I don't know how that has evolved for 2019. So yes, hosting fees apply but in the overall scheme of the costs to put on an event like this it's not really a prohibitive figure, or at least it wasn't a few years back.
  • 4 1
 1. Nino Schurter will have to wait until next year to break Julien Absalon's record 33 wins.

We knew that before Snowshoe... If he had won in Snowshoe he would only have tied Julien Absalon's record of 33 wins... To "break" that record he needs 34 wins!
  • 2 0
 I wish the UCI would stick to their own rules though. Courses are supposed to be 4-6km and races should be 1:30 to 1:45 yet so many courses were shorter and nearly all races were too short. I don't understand why they don't follow motocross and just make it a time limit plus a lap. 1:20 plus a lap would work perfectly. Also make the courses longer, nothing worse as a rider than doing heaps of ridiculously short laps.
  • 2 0
 #6 - Bring a UCI WC to Whistler, both XC and DH.

I'd list reasons it would make sense (ie: be financially viable and spectator worthy) but I'd run out of ink. For starters, the area has no shortage of helicopters. Smile
  • 4 0
 MVP just won the stage in Yorkshire. That's talent.
  • 1 0
 As for world cup returning, DH course looked great. I'm interested to hear how the riders liked the scene there, was there in June and you definitely have to bring your own party out there.
  • 2 0
 In the post-race Vital podcast Peaty was saying he gave someone money for some moonshine and they fired up a quad and rode off into the woods. Came back 20 min later with the booze haha. So it sounds like there's *some* party to be found there Smile

Honestly it's pretty cool to see how many people made it out to such an isolated location. Wish I could have made it!
  • 2 0
 @bkm303: well the sheriff came round in the middle of the night
heard mama screamin, knew somethin wasn't right
he was headed down to knoxville with the weekly load
you could smell the whiskey burnin down copperhead roooooad
  • 2 0
 @bkm303: The entire mountain and every accommodation within 2 hours was rented out months ago. If you didn't plan ahead, there was no place to stay. All the parking lots were full and the sides of the roads were filled with cars for miles. Literally, i don't think more people could have attended. It wasn't the biggest crowd on the WC circuit but it was as many as the mountain could handle.
  • 2 0
 @dfiler: damn straight. i booked a house the second the announced it as a venue at the end of last summer. such an epic event up there.
  • 1 1
 Point 3 should be reworded... the UCI doens't reward consistency, it rewards results. Ie. the difference between 1st and 3rd place is like 75 points(of 250 for 1st). Also.. if you thought the XC course for this weekend was disappointing, don't start looking forward to the Olympics.. it's like Albstadt but worse.
  • 4 0
 *3 XCO wins for MVP
  • 2 0
 I already miss the racing. Nino is a beast!! Cant wait for next season!!
  • 1 0
 Random question, sort of.....What happened to Sam Gaze?
  • 2 0
 He crashed himself out in the Cape Epic and seemed to have not recovered. I think he was concussed in that crash.
  • 2 0
 @clink83: yes, it was a significant concussion. Also, I think it was announced earlier this year that he is moving to road biking
  • 3 1
 Karma maybe?
  • 1 0
 Ok thanks. I did a bit of Googling and saw there was some bad sportsmanship issues back in New Zealand also. But still couldn't figure out why no World Cup. Karma for sure!
  • 3 0
 @showmethemountains: I think you're right about that being his focus in the future but he's been around most of this year.

Albstadt - DNE (Did Not Enter)
Nove Mesto - 116th
Vallnord - 83rd
Les Gets - 94th
Val Di Sole - 47th
Lenzerheide - DNF
Mont St. Anne - DNE
Snowshoe - DNE

Ever since that crash at the Cape Epic he hasn't been the same on a MTB.
May be the best thing he can do for himself.
  • 2 0
 @JDFF: season wrecking concussion a bit rough to be wishing on someone for karma. He's back racing at the Tokyo Olympic mtb event in a few weeks and riding for Deceuninick QuickStep on the road for the next few months. Comebacks are the name of the game this year - too soon to write a 23rd old off already.
  • 2 2
 I would use inner tubes with tyre liners. Would never get a puncture in a race.
  • 1 4
 6. Men should start wearing tailored baggie shorts /shirts wo zippers and helmet visors.
  • 4 0
 CFR did that a few years ago with Fumic and Fontana... They definitely did not look "cool" in the pack, they stood out and looked like CrossFitters entering a local race.
  • 3 0
 @Jamminator: And they were so slooooow with those baggies and visors catching all that wind. Fontana never recovered and can now only be found on an eBike.

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