Photo Epic: Val di Sole XC World Championships 2021

Aug 29, 2021
by Andy Vathis  



Cross country took centre stage today in Val di Sole with the U23 kicking off the action early this morning. As expected Mona Mitterwallner proved to be the one to beat and rode away from the competition, pulling out a gap in excess of two minutes to Laura Stigger who also had a big gap back to third-placed Caroline Bohe. It was a similar story in the U23 men with Martin Vidaurre Kossmann proving too strong for the rest of the field, the Chilean taking his first World Championship by over a minute with Juri Zanotti in second and Joel Roth in third.

It was difficult to predict what would happen in the elite ranks but it looked ominous when Pauline Ferrand Prevot pulled a big gap early on but it wasn't to be. She was reeled in by the UK's Evie Richards who muscled past and took off without looking back, she remained unchallenged for the rest of the race and waltzed over the line to her very first mountain bike World Championship title. One hell of a ride. Anne Terpstra was her closest challenger in the end just over a minute back, Sina Frei took the final medal in a sprint finish with Jolanda Neff. The men's was closer run with the Swiss duo of Mathias Flueckiger and Nino Schurter going toe to toe for most of the race which set up a tense but thrilling conclusion. It was Schurter who outfoxed the competition to notch up yet another World Championship title as Flueckiger slumped to the ground in disappointment as Victor Koretzky grabbed the bronze medal with a strong ride.

We don't have to wait long to see the World's best XC racers back in action as the World Cup season gets back underway next week in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.

Dramatic cloud cover hung around until the sun burnt it off.
Dramatic clouds hung around until the sun burnt them off in the morning.

All eyes were on Mona Mitterwallner.
All eyes were on Mona Mitterwallner.

The U23 women kick off the day s action.
The U23 women kick off the day's action.

Kata Blanka Vas rounded out the top 5.
Kata Blanka Vas rounded out the top 5.

Marika Tovo had the loudest cheers of all early this morning in the U23 Women s race.
Marika Tovo had the loudest cheers of all early this morning in the U23 Women's race.

Another great ride from the Danish National Champ Caroline Bohe.
Another great ride from the Danish National Champ Caroline Bohe.

Laura Stigger made her return to the U23 class with a second place.
Laura Stigger made her return to the U23 class with a second place.

Mona Mitterwallner once again rode away from her completion without any issues.
Mona Mitterwallner once again rode away from her completion without any issues.

Yet another win added to Mona Mitterwallner s rapidly expanding tally.
Yet another win added to Mona Mitterwallner's rapidly expanding tally.

Your top 3 junior women 1st Mona Mitterwallner 2nd Laura Stigger 3rd Caroline Bohe.
Your top 3 junior women: 1st Mona Mitterwallner 2nd Laura Stigger 3rd Caroline Bohe.

What a season Mona Mitterwallner is having.
What a season Mona Mitterwallner is having.

Men U23 start.
Men U23 start.

Jofre Cullell Estape took fifth place for U23 Men.
Jofre Cullell Estape took fifth place for U23 Men.

Fourth and some battle scars from Luca Schaetti.
Fourth and some battle scars from Luca Schaetti.

After some back and forth with the fellow countryman Joel Roth secured the final step of the podium.
After some back and forth with the fellow countryman, Joel Roth secured the final step of the podium.

Second place for Juri Zanotti in his home country.
Second place for Juri Zanotti in his home country.

Martin Vidaurre Kossmann fought hard to keep his place on course and earned himself the rainbow stripes.
Martin Vidaurre Kossmann fought hard to keep his place on course and earned himself the rainbow stripes.

Martin Vidaurre Kossmann across the line with bike way in the air.
Martin Vidaurre Kossmann across the line with bike way in the air.

Big win for Kossman and Chile.
Big win for Kossman and Chile.

Your top three U23 Men - 1st Martin Vidaurre Kossmann 2nd Juri Zanotti and 3rd Joel Roth
Your top three U23 Men - 1st Martin Vidaurre Kossmann, 2nd Juri Zanotti, and 3rd Joel Roth

An early morning caffeine hit for Anne Terpstra.
An early morning caffeine hit for Anne Terpstra.

Pauline cool and calm before the start.
Pauline, cool and calm before the start.

Little did Evie Richards know what was about to unfold in a few hours time.
Little did Evie Richards know what was about to unfold in a few hours time.

Anne Terpstra is about to have a good day in Italy.
Anne Terpstra is about to have a good day in Italy.

Eva Lechner and Rebecca McConnell lead the charge into the first turn.
Eva Lechner and Rebecca McConnell lead the charge into the first turn.

Anne Tauber blasting through the big crowd that lined the track every inch of the track.
Anne Tauber blasting through the big crowd that lined the track every inch of the track.

Evie Richards was on one today never letting off the gas.
Evie Richards was on one today never letting off the gas.

Alessandra Keller cresting one of the many punchy climbs.
Alessandra Keller cresting one of the many punchy climbs.

Ninth today for Malene Degn.
Ninth today for Malene Degn.

Pauline Ferrand Prevot put down the watts in the first few laps and nearly got away with it.
Pauline Ferrand Prevot put down the watts in the first few laps and nearly got away with it.

Rebecca McConnell with another strong and consistent ride into 7th.
Rebecca McConnell with another strong and consistent ride into 7th.

Jolanda Neff and Sina Frei make their move to create some much needed distance from others
Jolanda Neff and Sina Frei make their move to create some much-needed distance from others;

Maja Wloszczowska rode into 5th.
Maja Wloszczowska rode into 5th.

Sina Frei pulled with the main group before playing cat and mouse with Jolanda Neff.
Sina Frei pulled with the main group before playing cat and mouse with Jolanda Neff.

The olympic champion Jolanda Neff lost out in the bronze medal sprint to compatriot Sina Frei.
The Olympic champion Jolanda Neff lost out in the bronze medal sprint to compatriot Sina Frei.

Anne Terpstra carving the dust rut. Her second place finish was spectacular.
Anne Terpstra carving the dust rut. Her second-place finish was spectacular.

Evie looked comfortable in the jank and dust as she put the hammer down.
Evie looked comfortable in the jank and dust as she put the hammer down.

Evie Richards was over a minute ahead of her competition so had time to savour the moment she crossed the line.
Evie Richards was over a minute ahead of her competition so had time to savour the moment she crossed the line.

Anne Terpstra was quite rightly delighted with her ride into the silver medal.
Anne Terpstra was quite rightly delighted with her ride into the silver medal.

Sina would eventually take the sprint into third. Jolanda comes over to congratulate her on her efforts.
Sina would eventually take the sprint into third. Jolanda comes over to congratulate her on her efforts.

What a moment for Evie Richards.
What a moment for Evie Richards.

Your top 3 elite women 1st Evie Richards 2nd Anne Terpstra 3rd Sina Frei
Your top 3 elite women: 1st Evie Richards 2nd Anne Terpstra 3rd Sina Frei

A quiet moment of contemplation for Henrique Avancini before the start of the race.
A quiet moment of contemplation for Henrique Avancini before the start of the race.

Henrique Avancini making his signature fast getaway.
Henrique Avancini making his signature fast getaway.

Ondrej Cink leading out the pack.
Ondrej Cink leading out the pack.

Tenth for Milan Vader today.
Tenth for Milan Vader today.

Alan Hatherly skipped a few stones and into eighth.
Alan Hatherly skipped a few stones and into eighth.

Henrique Avancini settled into seventh once he was caught up to from taking the hole shot.
Henrique Avancini settled into seventh once he was caught up to from taking the holeshot.

Sam Gaze is finding form again and took a great 6th place.
Sam Gaze is finding form again and took a great 6th place.

Mathias Flueckiger led the majority of the race s latter stages but was unable to close it out.
Mathias Flueckiger led the majority of the race's latter stages but was unable to close it out.

The Nino Mathias batter wore on right up until the last turn.
The Nino Mathias battle wore on right up until the last turn.

Filippo Colombo ended up inside the top 10 but will have been disappointed not to feature higher after losing out in a 4 way sprint.
Filippo Colombo ended up inside the top 10 but will have been disappointed not to feature higher after losing out in a 4-way sprint.

Vlad Dascalu just outside the podium positions in 4th.
Vlad Dascalu just outside the podium positions in 4th.

Victor Koretzky seemed to be gaining strength as his laps wore on. His efforts would land him in third today.
Victor Koretzky seemed to be gaining strength as his laps wore on. His efforts would land him in third today.

Nino on the hunt for Mathias Flueckiger s position.
Nino on the hunt for Mathias Flueckiger's position.

Nino is back.
Forced to make a mistake, Flueckiger was caught off guard in the final sprint. Nino crosses the line for the stripes.

This one might feel even sweeter than the others given Nino Schurter is winless in the World Cups this year.
This one might feel even sweeter than the others given Nino Schurter is winless in the World Cups this year.

So close yet so far for Mathias Flueckiger.
So close yet so far for Mathias Flueckiger.

The rest of the Trek Pirelli team were ecstatic at Vlad Dascalu s 4th place.
The rest of the Trek Pirelli team were ecstatic at Vlad Dascalu's 4th place.

Flueckiger and Schurter having a small chat post race.
Flueckiger and Schurter having a small chat post-race.

Your top three Elite Men - 1st Nino Schurter 2nd Mathias Flueckiger and 3rd Victor Koretzky.
Your top three Elite Men - 1st Nino Schurter, 2nd Mathias Flueckiger, and 3rd Victor Koretzky.

Ninth World Champs title for the G.O.A.T.
Ninth World Champs title for the G.O.A.T.

It s all downhill from here.
It's all downhill from here.



45 Comments

  • 51 0
 Shame there's no pic of mechanics salute to Maya! One of the best moments of the day
  • 23 1
 Great race from Fluckiger: he was the strongest, BUT mentally he thought he'd won the race when he was leading at that final descent. He made the mistake of thinking Nino would not do anything to win.

Nino showed what a true champion he is: he stayed on Fluck's wheel even when the pace slowed right down, he was waiting for his time to strike.

And an amazing race from Evie! Go Team GB!
  • 6 66
flag dfishdesign (Aug 29, 2021 at 8:03) (Below Threshold)
 I dunno, I lost some respect for Nino and gained some for Mathias.

The pass itself isn't the problem, the question is are they on the same team? Clearly Mathias thought they were, he towed Nino around quite a bit. Would he have done that to another competitor from another Nation? What was the Swiss objective going into the race? If it's every man for himself fair enough, Mathias screwed up. But if there was any talk of teamwork, he has every right to be pissed.

It was a dick move, but legit. A move that you do to your competitors, not your teammates. The race wasn't over after the pass, Avenci passed Belvins in the short track on the same spot and Blevins still won(atleast looked the same on tv). Shame Matthias couldn't recover from it and go to the line with Nino.

Nino is a killer, It's racing, I get it. But he's got a 8 1/2 Jerseys in my eyes. That last one like a world champs tank top or something.
  • 10 1
 @dfishdesign: hahaha, still looking at flags? What a newb...
  • 21 0
 @dfishdesign: XCO is not a team sport like road cycling, they were not on the same "team", they are just from the same country... In XCO racing it IS every man for himself, and the best man won!
  • 11 0
 @dfishdesign: Really, and what about the numerous times Flueckinger tried to Drop Nino?
IIRC, twice in the last lap alone. Does that qualify as a "dick move" too?
  • 5 1
 @dfishdesign:

Nino is on the Scott-SRAM team. There is no “Swiss team” on the World Cup circuit. There are national teams at the Olympics, but not the World Cup.
  • 8 0
 there was some towing to be fair, but just to stay away from the pack (not to say peloton), and they both towed each other, sometimes Mathias was in front sometimes Nino was, but that's normal in elite racing, once they were way over a minute ahead was when Mathias attacked right before that painfull uphill. If Mathias didnt attack, Korekzky or Cink would have caught up to them and they both have defeated Nino and Mathias with pure youth and leg strength before.

Still this is not the 80s or the Soccer World Cup, stop looking at nationalities.
  • 4 0
 @icthus13: The world championship is not part of the world cup series. Riders at the world championships ride in their country's national team jerseys, and must be invited by their respective national federation to participate in the world championships (as a member of their national team). I'm not commenting here about the merits of Nino's pass, but wanted to clarify that participants are racing as part of their national team. That being said, I've never heard anything about national team members in XC executing any pre-ordained tactics or strategy, or following any kind of pecking order in the way that might be seen in other sports where participants are competing under a common banner.
  • 18 0
 I still don't understand what Flueckinger thought Schurter was supposed to do - *not* pass him?
  • 11 0
 Hahah, yeah same here, Matthias' legs might've been busted by then, and Nino looked sharp as hell, my guess is that he was gonna pass him in the final sprint anyway, saw the opportunity before and he took it.
  • 3 0
 @Narro2: Yeah Matthias left it all out there, but Nino had just a bit more in the tank.
  • 13 0
 Nino? Ni-yes
  • 7 0
 Just got round to finally watching the men's race, it was like the exciting battles in WSB or Moto GP. That was an amazing pass by Schurter, perfect timing!
  • 4 0
 Flueckiger just went a little wide on that turn, trying to setup for the apex, and for Schurter that was like the great sea parting. As you said, perfect timing as you said, but then the strength for that long power sprint to keep a head of Flueckiger was phenomenal show strength.
  • 5 0
 I think Flueckiger blew it with the all out sprinting before the last downhill. He spent way to much energy while Nino could just stay in the draft on his wheel. How they rode the last downhill was insane. The speed was crazy and how they took off on that jump! Probably the craziest downhill (XC) ride on dry terrain I have ever seen, and Flueckiger on skinny ThunderBurt tires. Finally Nino got use of that 120mm and 2,4 tires.
Nino was looking to overtake at every chance, and when he did it was a clean pass on the inside, before the turn started. Would have loved to see Flueckiger take the win but from the time Nino got in front we could see that Flueckiger really didn't have the legs for an all out sprint.
  • 4 0
 Great pics!
I believe this should say U23 not junior, “Your top 3 junior women: 1st Mona Mitterwallner 2nd Laura Stigger 3rd Caroline Bohe.”
  • 6 0
 Martin Vidaurre, chilean pride!!!
  • 2 0
 Lovely pictures. Thought you might have a picture of Maja Wloszczowska finishing her career through that tunnel of wheels that was held up for her. Any chance of an article about her career? Was she asked about that mistake she made near the end of the race?
  • 3 0
 I'm by no means saying that mathias is a bad rider, I feel like he is very underrated and deserves more credit. I wish he would've won instead of nino
  • 1 0
 wonder what wheels those are that Nino was using. Looks like they are NOT the Syncros SL all carbon molded spoke/rim wheelset.
  • 1 0
 I am here, reading and watching while history is been made... simply amazing
  • 3 0
 Evie !!
  • 2 0
 Finally get to see the new Spark RC in action Wink
  • 2 1
 Ross Bell needs to clean his sensor
  • 1 0
 Nice job putting the ladies first
  • 2 5
 Classic. Mathias Flueckiger is the eternal second place finisher. Always in the top 5, but can never get that win in the races that really matter
  • 1 4
 Pretty sure he won a WC XC race just last month. It’s pretty easy to talk tough about a rider who would easily ride circles around you.
  • 10 1
 @extratalldirtrider: By that logic, only 5 or so people on the planet can talk about him. That seems restrictive.
  • 6 0
 Mathias will have his day soon.
  • 1 0
 @grizwald: how old is he?
  • 2 0
 @Narro2: Mathias is 32. Only 3 years younger than Nino.
Not exactly a spring chicken either.
Well not in elite XCO pro racer terms anyway.
  • 1 0
 @Augustus-G: nah, he still got time, it pretty much depends on whats gonna happen with MVDP and Pidcock. I just dont see consistesy from those guys.
  • 5 2
 @Narro2: Pidcock and MVDP are annoying with their inconsistent presence, just pick a discipline.
  • 2 0
 @Narro2: I didn't infer he's ready for the Rockin' Chair just yet but you've got to be realistic about it and face the fact that he's, in all probability, in the final 25-30% of his timeframe to be at the tip of the spear on a regular basis.
That is unless he turns out to be a "Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesja", he doesn't have another decade to put together the kind of numbers Nino has over his career. Pretty long odds I wouldn't bet my paycheck on.
  • 3 0
 @Augustus-G: i wouldnt either, but he doesnt need to match Nino's numbers, that's not gonna happen, we are talking about 1 World Championship, something like Steve Peat did back in 09. Years being under Hill, he managed to get Champs on his last year, which was pretty cool.
  • 3 0
 @Narro2: Roger that. That is very possible, even probable within the next few years.
He one very talent rider, no taking that away from him and like you said it would be nice to see him pull it off at the big show once before the inevitable happens. Cheers
  • 3 1
 @mrkkbb: I would guess pidcock would love to just do mtb. . . But the money is on the road. I really don’t like these Rodies coming in and cleaning house to get in the olympics and then go right back to road.
  • 2 0
 Ummm...this year he won Les Gets XCO and XCC; Leogang XCO and XCC; he's the current Swiss National Champion; and he won the third round of the Internationale d'Italia. Those are all massive results.
  • 3 0
 @bitterrooter: One of the most disappointing things I found when I returned to cycling was the infighting and downright disdain between the disciplines.

Why does he have to be one or the other?
Why the division? Is there something to gain in this cyclo-turf war between the disciplines?
Honest straight forward questions, no sarcasm. I'd really like to know how it got started and why.

It used to be much more common to be a good all around cyclist.
I think the trend is heading back that way and personally I like it.
  • 2 0
 @Augustus-G: is it really between disciplines? i hear MTBers complaining about Road cyclist and their lycras all the time but whenever i ride with Road bikers i dont hear a single beep about it, is like they dont even know MTB exists.

I might be projecting, but i think that complaining is mostly insecurities from some MTBers, not all though.

Also when those MTBers are in front of a Roadbiker, they stay quiet.

again maybe it is just my anecdotal experience.
  • 1 0
 @Narro2: I think it is. I've seen enough of it in both directions to take notice. From the Road side it more of a turn their nose up at MTB, BMX, etc. Like they got a whiff of bad cheese.... LOL.

Heck, around here the Gravity and XC infighting is on display on nearly a daily basis.
As for Lycra, better than looking like a slobobian reject from a '90's grunge band video. LOL

Get on your bike 'n ride. Whatever kind it may be.

On to Lenzerheide!!!
  • 1 0
 @pancakeflatted: I'm by no means saying that mathias is a bad rider, I feel like he is very underrated and deserves more credit. I wish he would've won instead of nino
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