9 Bikes That Have Won the Albstadt XC World Cup

May 6, 2021
by James Smurthwaite  
While technical tracks and full suspension bikes have become commonplace in World Cup racing, there's one venue that sticks to a more old-school style of racing - Albstadt.

The German round of the World Cup series features a course largely consisting of smooth singletrack and wooden features and as a result, it's a track where hardtails still rule the roost. We're taking a look over the past six years of racing and only one of the bikes has rear suspension; for the rest of the winners, it's a hardtail party with bikes from the likes of Scott, Liv, BMC and more. Let's take a look at them all.


Julien Absalon's - BMC hardtail

Julien Absalon s BMC. Absalon choses to ride a single chainring 11-40 Shimano Di2 setup this weekend. A custom made carbon chain guard adds extra security.

Julien Absalon was a staunch supporter of hardtails throughout his racing career so he was perfectly set up coming into Albstadt in 2014. His BMC hardtail featured a Di2 electronic drivetrain with a lockout on his Fox fork also running electronically using the same battery.

A tilted display and a single Di2 shifter with clean white ESI grips on Absalon s bike.
Julien s lockout operates from the Di2 battery. XTR9000 brakes are used matched to Freeza rotors.
[PCAPTIONS]The Di2 system and Fox lockout were activated using the same battery.[/PCAPTION]

Neat internal routing as made by BMC.
An interesting take on internal routing from BMC.

More info, here.

Pauline Ferrand Prevot - Liv XTC Advanced

Pauline Ferrand Prevot. Road racer She s pretty good at mountainbiking putting three minutes into the rest of the field.

Pauline Ferrand Prevot now races mountain bikes full time for Julien Absalon's team but in 2014 she was more known as a road racer and was coming into the Albstadt World Cup after winning La Fleche Wallone just over a month beforehand. While she could still have raced as a U23, she put the elite field to the swords and ended up 3 minutes clear by the end of the race.


Jolanda Neff's Stockli Beryll RSC 29er

Jolanda Neff had another impressive win. She got out front quickly and never looked back.

Jolanda Neff is the only woman to win more than once at Albstadt and she took her first one on the Stockli Beryll hardtail back in 2014. Stockli, known mainly for its skis are a brand that produces its bikes in Germany. The Beryll hardtail was a prototype softail with flexstays designed to help the brand's athletes at the Rio Olympics and it was joined later in the year by the EB 15 full suspension.


Nino Schurter's Scott Scale

Nino and Julien traded places several times through out the course of seven laps.

After two consecutive victories for Julien Absalon, it was time for Nino Schurter to take control at Albstadt. He picked up his first win here in 2015 and went undefeated at the venue until 2019. The wins all came on the Scale hardtail, although it was still in prototype phase in 2016 as you can tell from the camouflage paint. This version had skinnier seat stays, designed to give a bit more rear-end compliance. Although Nino's frame would stay the same through the years, it did see some significant spec changes from the DT Swiss suspension and Degast tires he was on down the line.

Annika Langvad's Specialized Era

Annika Langvad is in an incredible form. She rode away from the field after the first lap never to be seen again by the others.
Annika Langvad is on a tear she finished 1 25 up on second place Rissveds.

Annika Langvad bucked the trend and won in 2015 on a women's version of the full suspension Specialized Epic called the Era. The extra squish clearly wasn't slowing her down as she won the race by around 90 seconds from Jenny Rissveds. Langvad continued on the same setup to great success that season, including picking up the Rainbow Stripes in Nove Mesto.


Nino Schurter's Scott Scale

Nino Schurter riding a hardtail with dropper seatpost and SRAM s new wireless shifting added another win to his palmares.

We're skipping ahead to 2018 as we don't have any pictures of either Nino Schurter's or Yana Belomoina's winning bikes from 2017. Nino completed his hat trick of victories in 2018 with another win on the Scott Scale but there was a very significant piece of tech hung off that frame, our first look at the SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS groupset.


The groupset didn't make the most illustrious start to its racing career as Nino suffered a "mysterious" mechanical in the short track race and was left on the line by the rest of the field but he made it up in the race itself and won the XCO by a comfortable margin.

More info, here

Jolanda Neff's Kross Level

Once Jolanda Neff got away she just kept putting ridiculous time into the field.

Neff took her second win in Albstadt in 2018, this time racing on the Level frame from Polish Brand Kross. Just a week later she'd have her own prototype drivetrain to shout about as she was one of the select racers who got to test Shimano's 12-speed XTR in Nove Mesto.


Mathias Fleuckiger's Thomus Tomcat

Mathias Flueckiger s has a dropper post somewhere under all that. Was that the key factor in staying ahead in the mud

Albstadt 2019 was a washout and staying upright was as much of a challenge as putting down the watts. Mathias Fluckiger took his second ever win on his Thomus hardtail equipped with a dropper, which could have been a key factor in staying ahead of Mathieu Van Der Poel in the mud.

Kate Courtney's Scott Scale


Proving it's not just Nino Schurter who can win at Albstadt on a Scott Scale hardtail, Kate Courtney grabbed her first-ever Elite win last time we were in Albstadt. It was Courtney's first-ever race for the Swiss brand and she duly rewarded their faith as she kicked off her overall-winning season. Courtney's bike features some cool customizations including AXS Blips, rainbow details and a custom paint job.

Kate Courtney was welcomed to the Scott team with this glittery paint job.

There's a lot going on with these grips from the subtle World Champs customization to the AXS activating Blips

Sunday s fastest woman Kate Courtney is said to always ride the dropper on both hardtail and softtail.

More info, here

Author Info:
jamessmurthwaite avatar

Member since Nov 14, 2018
1,770 articles

  • 29 0
 Nice picture of Yolanda's Stockli. I almost can guess the color of the frame.
  • 4 0
 I mean, the photographer obviously couldn't know that that tree would pass right in front of his lens just when he clicked the shutter.
  • 17 0
 Do you think BMC just said, ehhh just drill a hole right here... Nino's rear derailleur had malware... Fortunately SRAM has upgraded their anti virus in the years since...
  • 2 0
 I could be WAY off, but didn't Shimanana make a Di2 batter holder-thingy for steer tubes? Would it have made sense to route the battery wire from the bottom of the steer tube through that point in the frame at that time?
  • 1 0
 @poolboy1-0: They did do that, but that is not the case on that bike. You can see the wire coming through in front of the fork crown.
  • 1 0
 @poolboy1-0: I'm pretty sure that happened. On my bike, I have a special compartment for a Di2 battery Smile
(Not that id ever use it though)
  • 12 1
 Kate's Scott looks perfect
  • 10 1
 Perfect for dirt jump
  • 7 0
 @frix182: for 1 dirt jump if it was me on it
  • 2 0
 @MuddyFoxCourierComp: that's cheeky
  • 11 0
 I was hoping to see more bikes.
  • 7 2
 Opening the post, I was expecting (and excited) to see a series of photos just like the first, Absalon's BMC. The fact that it was just a (seemingly) random collection of bikes, components, riders, and action photos was a bit disappointing.
  • 3 0
 @mi-bike: Agreed
  • 9 0
 "Mysterious mechanical problem"
  • 9 2
 Yeah, my guess is he forgot to turn it on. haha
  • 2 5
 @bermreynolds: you don't have to turn axs on. I have a vryon that I have forgotten to turn on. And I have axs that I've left the batteries at home. Whatever happened to Nino was an actual mechanical.
  • 8 0
 If you can say Motörhead you can also call/write the two brands by it's correct name: Stöckli, Thömus Razz
  • 2 0
 "Julien Absalon was a staunch supporter of hardtails throughout his racing career" - until the World Championships in Norway where his team manager forced him onto a full suspension bike. He wanted to do one test lap and switch back to his hardtail - but he never did. Instead he rode away from the whole field on his full suspension bike. Soon after that he would be on dropper posts too.
  • 6 1
 Those white grips are actually kinda sick
  • 34 2
 Until you ride them exactly one time.
  • 3 0
 Was Nino still on 27.5" wheels back during that 2015 race?
  • 1 0
 Yeah, I'd say. He went 29er at some point when they had RS forks, it was still DT Swiss then and those tanwalls
  • 1 8
flag alexisfire (May 6, 2021 at 16:49) (Below Threshold)
 Nino stayed on 27.5 against Scott's wishes until just recently when they would no longer supply him a 27.5 Most of the races he won was on 27.5
  • 6 0
 @alexisfire: He switched in 2016 and I'm sure Scott would give him a push bike on 20" wheels if he said so.
  • 1 0
 The picture in this article is from 2016 race. And it was actually his first WC on a 29er.
  • 4 2
 If an xc racer does a bar spin on there xc bike I’ll do a tail whip on my DH bike.
  • 2 0
 Npt bad, considering Pids is racing here.

  • 3 0
 It would be nice to see the bikes in the photos, Levy. I can't read.
  • 1 0
 Annika Langvad looks like she would have benefited from a dropper in both of those pictures.
  • 2 0
 I'm sure a world champ xc racer needs gear advice from pinkbike commenters.
  • 1 0
 @Themissinglink83: haha, fair point.
  • 2 0
 It's a hardtail party. Cheers James!
  • 2 0
 That 1st gen. AXS tho
  • 1 1
 I was looking for the welds. Can't see any here just plastic
  • 2 1
 Not a single Ebike!
  • 1 0
 hardtails are king
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