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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.