5 Things We Learned at the Nove Mesto World Cup XC 2019

May 28, 2019
by James Smurthwaite  
Chloe Woodruff got away and never looked back.

Here are give things we spotted from the sidelines in the Czech Republic.

1. European domination of the women’s series is being broken

Before this season, you had to go back to 2016 for a non-European World Cup XC winner in the women’s series and June 2012 for the last time there wasn’t a European in the top three - that was Catharine Pendrel, Georgia Gould and Marie-Helene Premont in Mont Sainte Anne.

Everything has been turned on its head in 2019 and a resurgent field of women are ripping up the form book. Leading the charge is Kate Courtney, who is proving that her World Champs win in Lenzerheide was no fluke, but alongside her, Canada’s Haley Smith and Australia's Rebecca McConnell also had fantastic races. Chloe Woodruff is also showing great form with a short track win on Friday helping her to sit fourth place in the overall after two rounds. Haley Batten also took the U23 women's win.
Elite Women s podium.

The US women are currently sitting in second place to Switzerland after the first half of the Olympic qualification period. The top two ranked countries at the end of the qualification period will receive the maximum number of three slots to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo while third through ninth will receive two and the remaining countries one slot.

2. Van Der Poel is as clinical as he is powerful

Mathieu Van Der Poel finally claimed the World Cup XC victory that has been on the cards since he first crossed over in 2016. Van Der Poel and Schurter led as a group of two but Van Der Poel put the hammer down on the final half of the last lap to leave Schurter with no answers.

But unfortunately, we won’t see Van Der Poel on a mountain bike for a while. After a full cyclocross season, some road races and now mountain bike races, he’s going to rest up and recover. He’s made no secret his big goal is an Olympic gold medal and he will now aim to peak for Tokyo in 2020 rather than defend his World Cup overall lead. He’ll only be racing select events this year and next year before aiming for Olympic glory. He’s as clinical off the track as he is on it and you’d be brave to bet against him medalling next summer. We should make the most of watching him race now before he leaves the sport for good.
Mathieu Van Der Poel lead Nino Schurter out in the last lap and stayed there.

3. A mixed bag of results for the new bikes

We had three new bikes to ogle over in Nove Mesto. First was the Pivot that we’ve already had all the details for and a first ride on, then there was the Mondraker F-Podium, and the other was a more mysterious bike from Trek that was obscured by a wrap over the shock.

Rebecca McConnell rode the new Mondraker F-Podium to seccond place in the XCO and Chloe Woodruff found instant success on the new Pivot with a win in the Short Track, but the Trek fared less well as Jolanda Neff finished off the podium for the first time since 2017 with Emily Batty and Anton Cooper also finishing lower than they would have wanted. Trek have more than a month to get some more miles in on the bike and will no doubt have the whole team firing again in Andorra.
Anton Cooper sunk into the pack on the opening lap but fought his way back into 16th.

4. Annika Langvad’s road efforts may have hampered her XC season

Annika Langvad is normally the first name we look to when it comes to the early season in the women’s XC. She has won the opening round of the World Cup for the past 3 years but this year has not found that same form.

After disappointing results in both Short Track and Olympic distance in Albstadt, she competed in the Short Track in Nove Mesto but decided not to race on Sunday and will rest up until the next round in July in Andorra. Her fatigue is no doubt due to the monster road race season she just completed with the Boels Dolmans team that saw her podium at the Fleche Wallonne and Strade Bianche. Expect to see her rested and fighting fit in July.
Annika Langvad struggled with the course in practice although that did hardly show in the race. Jolanda Neff fell back due to a mechanical after the first lap and Langvad took the lead.

5. Espresso is very, very important

Our crack investigative journalists, Andy Vathis and Matthew DeLorme, were sent around the pits earlier this week to find the finest cup of espresso going. The contentious results of their thorough exposé have already been published, but what does this mean for the racing?

Well, if correlation does equal causation, then our work may just have uncovered the secret to fast XC racing. Scott, Ghost and Trek have strong positions at the top of the overall and their espressos were top notch too.

Further testing needs to be conducted to understand how Haley Smith overcame her Nescafe handicap.


Pinkbike Primer - Nove Mesto World Cup XC 2019
Course Preview: King of XC - Nove Mesto XC World Cup 2019
Video: Course Preview with Anton Cooper - Nove Mesto World Cup XC 2019
Results: XCC Short Track - Nove Mesto World Cup XC 2019
Photo Epic: Friday Night Fights - Nove Mesto World Cup XCC 2019
Final Results: Nove Mesto World Cup XC 2019
Photo Epic: Drop the Hammer - Nove Mesto World Cup XC 2019
Spotted: New Trek XC Bike? - Nove Mesto World Cup XC 2019
Video: XCC Short Track Highlights - Nove Mesto World Cup XC 2019
Who Has the Best Espresso in the Pits? - Nove Mesto World Cup XC 2019
Annika Langvad Pulls Out of Nove Mesto World Cup XC
5 XC Race Weapons from the 2019 Nove Mesto World Cup
Overall Standings - Nove Mesto World Cup XC 2019
Final Randoms from the Pits - Nove Mesto World Cup XC 2019
Team Videos: Nove Mesto World Cup XC 2019


  • + 84
 Just as important is the fact that Jenny Rissveds moved up from the very last row to finish in the top half of the field. She had moved all the way up to 11th at one point in the race. This is a very promising start to her racing season.
  • + 26
 Great to see her back, and especially so after the challenges she's overcome in the past few years.
  • + 10
 Noticed the same thing and was surprised not to hear more about it. She'd be a great pick for fantasy XC team GO JENNY!
  • + 3
 Yeah, she disappeared from the absolute top of XC racing so fast.
  • - 4
flag toprace (May 28, 2019 at 14:32) (Below Threshold)
 @trails801: She's probably not be a red bull sponsored rider, therefore the broadcast team may be focusing their promotional efforts on "in house" riders like Kate Courtney.
  • + 1
 @toprace: Lol........
  • + 75
 Loving all the great XC content on Pinkbike this season. Keep it up guys!
  • + 2
 They really turned it up a notch this season. It's now some of the best coverage out there
  • + 27
 Like the Trek bike had anything at all to do with the Trek riders performance...
  • + 1
 Sure. We all know it's the bike not the pilot... Prolly making them run 11spd, 27.5, no dropper, no boost, no dub, alu rims, tubed tires, etc...
  • + 12
 A totally new bike with a proprietary shock very well could be screwing riders up
  • + 9
 @clink83: definitely that, and nothing to do with the flat tire.
  • - 1
 @hamncheez: multiple people have flatted and still podiumed this year. Normally I wouldn't say the bike is a contributing factor, but it is plausible in this case, even if unlikely.
  • + 6
 @clink83: It depends where you flatted, doesn't it? You can only change a wheel in the tech zone.
  • + 12
 @clink83: Neff flatted in the final lap, roughly halfway between the tech zones. So she had to ride a significant distance with a flat tire (including a downhill section), losing time the whole way, and do a wheel change, losing more time. Then she only had half a lap remaining to chase back. She did manage to pull back several places, but you can only do so much in half a lap.
  • + 3
 @ChristophColombo: I was left wondering if something is up with her Bontrager stuff given that she's flatted three times in the past two races. She claimed in an interview that she hadn't had a flat in years prior to Albstadt.
  • + 2
 @Giddyhitch: Why do you think Emily typically rides blacked out Maxxis tires???
  • - 2
 @hamncheez: I'm just saying, people are quick to blame a flat or something but then discard the idea that a brand new bike with a new shock might be related to bad results...double Barrel inline ring a bell?
  • + 4
 @Giddyhitch: Neff flatted at Worlds last year, remember the awful wheel changes in the pits?
  • + 4
 @clink83: It's a fair question, but Neff spent the first three laps 1-2 with Tauber and was in the chasing group with McConnell and Frei sitting in positions 3-4-5 until her flat (and whatever happened to Tauber). Not to mention, she left the pits behind the group with Pendrel and Davison, and managed to put almost a minute into some of them in the last half lap. That doesn't seem like a bike issue to me.

I'm not discounting the possibility that the new bike sucks, but it's entirely reasonable to put the blame for a poor result on a flat in the final lap of the race when the rider was otherwise performing well.
  • + 3
 @ChristophColombo: Tauber tried to clean the rocky climb to stay ahead of Courtney. She stalled, couldn't get out of the pedal, and fell sideways whacking her derailleur on a rock. Drivetrain fouled up.
  • + 1
 @davidccoleman: I do not because I only started paying attention to XCO after KC’s win. I’m still on the hunt for a replay of Worlds as a matter of fact. In any case, not sure why Neff said that at Albstadt then.
  • + 2
 @Giddyhitch: the entire 2018 season was awesome, but the last 2 races had so much drama I'd watch again (and did). Neff and Langvad battled it out all season and I believe they both had multiple mechanicals in the final World Cup race including at least 1 flat for Neff on her Mitas mud tires.

Neff was on xr1s Sunday which were like death when I ran them but then again nino and kate running Aspens so they've got the skills ????
  • + 21
 Tough to say whos season has started off worse, Emily Batty's or Ferrari F1 team.
  • + 5
 I was kinda wondering what's going on with her. She's been way back there compared to last year.
  • + 8
 Ferrari. What kind of morons don't get their car out to do another qualifying lap when everyone else is?
  • + 14
 I never got why some athletes have someone hold their umbrella as they warm up on a static trainer. Are these changing standards keeping the manufacturers from developing an axle mounted umbrella stand?
  • + 2
 I'd take that job as umbrella person. Lol.
  • + 8
 Blimey, what's the R² on that espresso chart?!
  • + 8
 It looks like 99.6%, pinbike coffee science is really gaining approval around the world, ivy league universities have already allocated fundings for further research and I've heard Mike Levy will host a conference about it at crankworx whistler.
  • + 8
 @winko: only if they make down-country specific blends.
  • + 7
 @P3N54: that would be decaf. Which, like down country, has zero use to me.
  • + 3
 @winko: nah, @mikelevy will only host TED talks on the subtle characteristics of various energy drinks.
  • + 1
 @brianpark: Did I miss the one about donuts or is it still in the works?
  • + 3
 I always admire when athletes like Darth VaDer make calculated decisions; I was always thought that stretching and rolling and physio and sports-massage ( also known as elbow torture ) are crucial and that the time I take to rest is as paramount as the time spent on the iron; I was happy that I was well disciplined and recovered from a fully ruptured Achilles tendon in 4 months and back on the bike the month after -- mad kudos for the athletes knowing how far they can ( should ? ) push, because knowing your strengths as an athlete is knowing when to give it all and how far you can go, then balancing it with knowing when to take a breather and recover..
  • + 6
 Pinkbike...you are going to be in so much trouble if the 2020 XC WC season is sponsored by Nespresso.
  • + 7
 What else?
  • + 3
 What we didn't learn is how many riders drink their espresso black vs with cow milk vs Oatly barista. We know that cow milk can actually hurt perfomance so this would be an interesting analysis.
  • + 21
 Milk in espresso? Gross. What kind of animal are you?
  • + 6
 @m1dg3t: Espresso macchiato is a delight...
  • + 9
 @m1dg3t: I identify as a black grizzly bear. Dont fu*k with my cubs and dont wake me up or I'll bite your fu*king head off. I am, of course, a straight black coffee drinker and agree that espresso and milk are gross. However, I dont mind a cappaccino every now and then (When the beans go stale) with Oatly Barista. Who knew oat "milk" could taste so good?
  • + 1
 @m1dg3t: I don't really drink espresso but my deal is iced coffee (not cold brew) with lots of cream. Tastes so good after a ride. Better than beer. Lol.
  • + 8
 @tacklingdummy: "Better than beer."

Drop and give us 100 push-ups, and never speak such foolishness again!
  • + 2
 I just dumped Oatly Barista in my Chai tea. I know we were talking about espresso but with Ft William around the corner, it is about time to shift to tea. Not sure what the Brits think of chai nor do I know whether the teams will modify their pits accordingly. My after ride drink always used to be a 400ml cup of hot chocolate while watching some The Collective move. After that I would cuddle myself to sleep.
  • + 1
 @dlford: Haha. It is. Lol.
  • + 1
 @tacklingdummy: Let's just drink espresso stout and never argue over which is better again
  • + 1
 @boozed: No argument. Just drink what you like. Espresso stout sounds interesting. Cheers.
  • + 6
 haha, love the coffee comparison Big Grin
  • + 2
 Can't believe there is not more discussion surrounding Specialized's blowing it and letting Kate Courtney go. California girl from Specialized country and had been riding for them since her NICA days. Could have been a real story for their marketing team to put on blast.
  • + 1
 Kate is a RedBull sponsored rider: neither party benefits from dredging up any controversies from the past. Besides, there's probably nothing more salacious than Kate receiving a better offer and/or better coaching from Scott SRAM.

There may be insiders who could say more but they could be identified as internet gossips. No one in the industry makes enough money to risk being identified as a backstabber or traitor.
  • + 3
 @toprace: Scott has better bikes too, not just a team with the #2 best WC racer in history(for now) and a former WC coach...
  • + 1
 Bec henderson actually looked to be riding the prototype version of the mondraker as it has the integrated stem in the top tube and not the production version standard setup the men were racing. You have to look close but it seems she may prefer the old test frame or possibly due to her small size?
  • + 1
 Well spotted, it clearly wasn’t their new xc bike ah
  • + 1
 Any insight into Batty's struggles? Rob Warner claims her training looks impeccable yet her results are the worst of her career dating back all the way to 2013, according to mtbcrosscountry.com

  • + 2
 Ehm guys, we have another new bike...Linda Indergand rode this Superior Bikes prototype to two 6th places last weekend:
  • + 4
 We also learned that None Mesto is a vastly superior course compared to Albstadt and 10X more fun to watch as a spectator.
  • + 3
 I would love to see where MVDP runs his cleats. This photo and the one on the Photo Epic make it look like he slams them back.
  • + 4
 I need more XC trail rides in my life.
  • + 4
 ... will we ever know how fast the Norcos will ride on proper coffee?...
  • + 2
 Surprised iced coffee isn't a metric in MTB. So good after a ride.
  • + 2
 What is a mexican doing in the men's top ten?
  • + 3
 Jose Ulloa Arevalo - vamos amigo....good to see at least one rider from North America in the top 10. Henrique Avancini has South America covered.
  • + 3
 Ulloa Arevalo has done well at some races in the US during preseason, cool to see him doing well here!
  • + 1
 That was dope!
  • + 1
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