5 Things We Learned At Val di Sole World Cup XC 2019

Aug 7, 2019
by Ed Spratt  
Mathieu Van Der Poel pulled away hard after Nino tried to make him bite. A commanding victory for the European Champ.

The fifth round of the World Cup XC in Val di Sole provided some intense racing, here are five things we noticed from the sidelines:

1. Canyon bicycles won 75% of the gold medals.
The German online bike brand took three of the four top spots this past weekend in Val di Sole after Pauline Ferrand Prevot, Mathieu Van Der Poel and Ronja Eibl took the win in their respective categories. Correndon Circus' Mathieu Van Der Poel and Ronja Eibl opted for the full-suspension bike while Canyon Factory's Pauline Ferrand Prevot chose the hardtail for the long steep climbs and it seems that it played to her advantage in a sprint finish against Jolanda Neff.

Pauline Ferrand Prevot had an incredible ride and took a well deserved win.

2. Taking time off the bike isn't necessarily detrimental to results.

Pauline Ferrand Prevot won the XC, Cyclocross and Road World Championships in 2015 but hadn't won a World Cup since that same year. She had a difficult start to the season after having surgery on her iliac artery, something which could have potentially ended her career. Then after two months of no training, she began the road back to the World Cups. To see her take the win in Val di Sole last weekend is impressive, to say the least.

Besides Pauline, Jenny Rissveds delivered her second podium since returning after her mental health break and Maja Wloszczowska, a former winner here, came back after a mystery illness picked up at the Cape Epic to finish 13th. One can't forget that during the 2018 season, Kate Courtney was forced to take a two-week break mid-season to recover from a knee injury, and returned to take the World Championships.

An understandably emotional Jenny Rissveds takes another podium. She is certainly the comeback story of the year.

3. The men's race provided the largest ever Val di Sole winning margin and the women's, the smallest

The Elite Men's and Women's races couldn't have been more different with the Elite Men's racing creating the largest men's winning margin in Val di Sole and the women's the smallest. Mathieu Van Der Poel managed to create an 18-second gap to Mathias Flueckiger in an impressive last-minute attack on one of the final climbs after riding alongside Schurter and Flueckiger the whole race. The previous largest winning margin in an Elite Men's XC at Val di Sole was last year where Nino Schurter beat Gerhard Kerschbaumer to the line by just six seconds.

In the Elite Women's race, Pauline Ferrand Prevot looked like she had the win after the third lap when she had built a gap of 34 seconds to Jolanda Neff but between lap four and the end of the race, Neff managed to close the gap making up an amazing 13 seconds in just the last lap. The race ended with one of the closest sprints in recent years with Neff almost taking the win. The one-second winning margin is the smallest in the women's race in the venue's history with 2018 coming closest at nine seconds.

Flueckiger taking a quick peak over his shoulder as Schurter and Van Der Poel close in on him.

4. Nino Schurter could take the overall this weekend in Lenzerheide

The current World Champion now sits just 116 points ahead of his closest rival Mathieu Van Der Poel in the overall after a perfect weekend for the Dutchman. However, with Mathieu Van Der Poel set to miss the final round in Snowshoe so he can take part in the Road World Championships, he's actually very unlikely to be a big player in the race for the overall.

Mathematically, anyone down to Maxime Marotte in seventh can still win the title, however if Schurter can leave Lenzerheide with a lead of 375 points, the title is guaranteed to be his. For example, if Schurter wins both races in Switzerland, Avancini or Flueckiger will have to score at least 225 points to stay in the title race. If they both fail to podium, Schurter could claim the title outright with a round to spare.

For the Women, it is very much down to two riders, Kate Courtney and Jolanda Neff. However, with only 33 points separating them at this stage, it's too tight to call for the moment.

Nino Schurter stayed with the pack and even tried an attack at the very end. He just didn t have the legs to bag it up.

5. Mathieu Van Der Poel could be inspiring more cyclocross riders to try their hand at XC racing.

When the heavens open on Friday and covered the Short Track course in a layer of mud there was only going to be one rider who could master the conditions. Drawing on all his cyclocross experience, Mathieu Van Der Poel was unstoppable in the slop. Come Sunday, the mud had disappeared but the strength of MVDP was brought to light again when he launched an attack on the last lap that put 18 seconds into Mathias Flueckiger and nearly a minute on Nino Schurter.

Another Cyclocross rider that performed well in the Valley of the Sun was Daan Soete who finished 29th in his first World Cup race. It would be an eventful weekend for Soete as he didn't know how to pick up his race number so ended up being a late entry and started at the back of the race in 122nd. Soete would make up almost 100 places by the time he crossed the finish line. Are we on the verge of a number of cyclocross riders trying their hand at XC racing in their offseason?

The track and conditions couldn t have been any better suited to Mathieu van der Poel.

MENTIONS: @mdelorme / @andy9


  • + 10
 More cx riders *could* try their hand at XC but I think you’re giving the discipline too much credit here. MVDP is successful in XC because he is arguably the most talented and versatile racer on a bicycle... road, CX or otherwise.
  • + 4
 If you're going to go that route PVP is the best, since she was XC, CX, and road world champ at once.
  • + 2
 When you think about it : MVDP is ONLY 116 points behind Schurter, but he missed 1 (or 2 ? don't remember) races. Thats clearly the last year of domination of Schurter, and a new era, with talented youngsters. And MVDP is just one among others.
  • + 3
 I dunno why #1 is all that relevant.
  • + 3
 Obviously, it's an enormous coup for any brand to have two of their riders on the top step of the podium on the same weekend.The brand's rep received a great deal of shine that will not soon fade.

All you have to do is look back at how Trek's sales took off with Lance's "victories" at the TdF. Even with his records all erased subsequently from doping, there's little question that Trek's brand recognition and therefore sales went through the roof at the time, and the halo effect remains to this day, as Trek is still widely regarded as a top tier road bike brand. They've clearly earned their place in the industry; the uber lightweight madone frames and the innovation of isospeed are noteworthy accomplishments, but their brand is still associated with an era of unprecedented domination in the Tour.
  • + 5
 @toprace: but according to the pink bike XC experts Canyon Bikes suck, they have 70 degree HTAs so they can't possibly win racesWink
  • + 2

I'm certainly not buying because of that. I'm sure it doesn't suck but it'd be more fun and versatile if it was a bit slacker. MVDP could win on any bike you care to throw at him I'd say.
  • + 1
 Scott has had first place at the majority of men's XC races for the past few years, and in the main XC races in both mens' and womens' for much of this year. If you got to almost any XC race then I'd bet Scott make up the majority of the bikes at the sharp end.
  • + 1
 @lukeb: around here most of the racers are on Scott bikes, but I don't think it's because of who races them. I think it's more of the super dialed geometry and light frames.
  • + 3
 @telephunke: I'm willing to bet if you rode all the top level XC bikes blind you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between one with a 70* HTA and a 68* HTA if they were properly fitted.
  • + 1
 @clink83: Bicycle Guide back in the day used to actually measure frame angles. Very often, actual measurements were off by a half to a full degree or more. Geometry charts and specs are often just a rough guide: tire measurements are often way off, or brands substitute out parts in the middle of production runs, or there are silent revisions or upgrades that brands never even bother to mention.
  • + 3
 Really enjoy the analysis, thanks PB!

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