Photo Report: Elite Men & Women XC World Cup - Nove Mesto

May 27, 2018
by Matthew DeLorme  


There are races, and there are races to remember. Not sure what it is about Nove Mesto, but it always seems to produce some truly memorable ones. Today may have been the best. Ever. We've had some good ones this season. The opener was pretty damn impressive. Both the men's and women's race in Nove Mesto were action-packed. In the women's race, Langvad and Neff kept battled it out for the win, with Pauline Ferrand Prevot and Emily Batty giving everything they had. Mathieu van der Poel, Schurter, and Gaze started off the Men's race with a battle royal until Gaze flatted and Mathieu crashed out, leaving the door open for Cooper and Marotte to make a move. It was war out there in the heat and the dust. Then there was the sprint finish between Anton and Nino. Racing just doesn't get much better than this.

Bottles are being prepared at Cannondale prior to the elite men s race.
Bottles are being prepared at Cannondale prior to the elite men's race.

This event sets the benchmark for World Cups with regards to spectators. They were here at all races not just the men s elite race. Loud friendly and in numbers.
This event sets the benchmark for World Cups with regards to spectators. They were here at all races, not just the men's elite race. Loud, friendly and in numbers.

the lovely ladies of Czech......
The lovely ladies of Czech......

You wear a Mexican wrestling mask in the Czech Republic you get in. End of story
If you wear a Mexican wrestling mask in the Czech Republic, you get in. End of story,

Jolanda Neff warming up.
Jolanda Neff warming up.

Jolanda Neff Kross Shimano SUI

Kate Courtney focused on the task at hand.
Kate Courtney focused on the task at hand.

Double trouble. Annie Last is a fighter but it wasn t her day today.
Double trouble. Annie Last is a fighter but it wasn't her day today.


Annika Langvad charging in the rocks on Mitas Choice.
Annika Langvad charging in the rocks on Mitas Choice.

Emily Batty found her fire today and rode to an impressive fourth place finish.
Emily Batty found her fire today and rode to an impressive fourth-place finish.

The battle at the front. Lanvad and Neff duke it out up the main climb.
The battle at the front. Langvad and Neff duke it out up the main climb.

Pauline Ferrand Prevot was smooth and consistent on her way to third.
Pauline Ferrand Prevot was smooth and consistent on her way to third.

Jolanda Neff taking off in lap 1
Jolanda Neff taking off in lap 1.

Maja Wloszczowska gets ready to start. Maja decided to not start in the sprint race as she had not been feeling well after Albstadt.
Maja Wloszczowska gets ready to start. Maja decided to not start in the short track race as she had not been feeling well after Albstadt.

Annika Langvad is not a fan of a slippery Albstadt course. Conditions in Nove Mesto where super dry and she went flat out trying to loose her competition.
Annika Langvad was not a fan of a slippery Albstadt course. Conditions in Nove Mesto were super dry and she went flat out trying to lose her competition.

Neff out front early and sending it.
Neff out front early and sending it.

Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjaa has one of the most impressive mountainbike careers. Today she was up there again finishing in 6th.
Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjaa has one of the most impressive mountain bike careers. Today she was up there again, finishing in 6th.

Besting Neff in the sprint Langvad wins again.
Besting Neff in the sprint, Langvad wins again.

Jolanda Neff Kross Shimano SUI

Jolanda Neff Kross Shimano SUI

Pauline Ferrand-Prevot is in form and took third today.
Pauline Ferrand-Prevot is in form and took third today.

Jolanda Neff and Annika Langvad.
Jolanda Neff and Annika Langvad.

Emily Batty thrilled to be back on the podium.
Emily Batty thrilled to be back on the podium.

Bubbles.
Bubbles.

Keeping cool before the heat.
Keeping cool before the heat.

Mathieu Van der Poel has been the talk of the town ever since entering the mountainbike scene. The talented Dutch rider aims for the Olympics in 2020.
Mathieu Van der Poel has been the talk of the town ever since entering the mountain bike scene. The talented Dutch rider aims for the Olympics in 2020.

Sam Gaze was the man who finally put an end to Nino Schurter s amazing streak of wins. Today Gaze flatted and hurt his elbow in a crash.
Sam Gaze was the man who finally put an end to Nino Schurter's amazing streak of wins. Today Gaze flatted and hurt his elbow in a crash.

Gaze Schurter Van der Poel and Indergand take off.
Gaze, Schurter, van der Poel and Indergand take off.

Not the day van der Poel envisioned.

Nino and Cooper play cat and mouse on the final laps.

Lars Forster had an impressive ride to fourth.

Mathieu van der Poel looked strong but had to quit the race after a crash. Van der Poel struggled with an injured wrist resulting in the crash.
Mathieu van der Poel looked strong but had to quit the race after a crash. Van der Poel struggled with an injured wrist, resulting in the crash.

Mathias Fl ckiger crashed at the start and tried hard to catch up.
Mathias Flückiger crashed at the start and tried hard to catch up.

Schurter took the lead right away.
Schurter took the lead right away.

Nino Schurter leads Van der Poel and Tempier.
Nino Schurter leads Van der Poel and Tempier.

Nino takes the lead on lap one.
Nino takes the lead on lap one.

Sam Gaze ran into trouble early with a crash and a front flat. He hung in there but he was too far out from a tech zone to make it back into contention.
Sam Gaze ran into trouble early with a crash and a front flat. He hung in there but he was too far out from a tech zone to make it back into contention.



Bloodied at the start but kept on fighting.
Bloodied at the start but kept on fighting. Mathias Flückiger is hard as nails.

Racing ain t easy with a face full of dirt.
Racing ain't easy with a face full of dirt.

Nino Schurter s supremacy is challenged again chased down by a growing number of riders.
Nino Schurter's supremacy is challenged again, chased down by a growing number of riders.

Manuel Fumic has been so close to victory and podiums in the last years but today he saw his first podium since 2015 with a 5th position.
Manuel Fumic has been so close to victory and podiums in the last years, but today he saw his first podium since 2015 with a 5th position.



Gasping for air. Anton Cooper left nothing out there.
Gasping for air. Anton Cooper left nothing out there.

That one hurt. Nino takes a seat after the finish line.
That one hurt. Nino takes a seat after the finish line.

Post race banter with the top three.
Post race banter with the top three.

That was some of the best XC racing in years. Thanks for the show boys.
That was some of the best XC racing in years. Thanks for the show.




52 Comments

  • + 36
 Good on ya Anton Cooper !!!

Karma much Sam Gaze ??
  • - 9
flag sjg6 (May 27, 2018 at 20:21) (Below Threshold)
 Yes good on Anton too, the Kiwi boys are making history this year, they are different types of athlete but both turning themselves inside out to get a decent result this season for everybody.
But really? Enjoying the fact that Sam came off and hurt himself? You are obviously making a statement about a 5min moment that Sam had earlier this year, but at least he wasn't wishing anyone hurt.
And Mathias Fluckiger is just on Social saying a particular rider is disrespectful and aggressive... you want to wish him a bit of injury karma too?
  • + 26
 @sjg6: Sam's got a while before his tantrum is forgotten, he was an absolute dickhead.
  • + 13
 @Clarkeh: Just generally he comes across as a grade A narcissist.
  • + 10
 That acceleration in the dash to the finish was brutal! I thought he was gonna haul Nino in. Strong finish.
  • + 31
 A round of applause for Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjaa (mid 40s!)! What a woman!
  • - 7
flag Otago (May 28, 2018 at 4:48) (Below Threshold)
 Going by recent form, including the short track on Friday, I think Sam would have blown Nino away in the final lap sprint, had he not flatted and crashed...
  • + 9
 @Otago: extrapolating based on two datapoints...
  • + 6
 @mi-bike: Gaze looks strong this year and Nino's got his hands full with VdP, Marotte and Cooper.

2018: XC racing gets interesting again.
  • + 1
 Karma comment so brilliant! Cooper fan for sure now!!
  • + 27
 Amazing racing. Great photography. Keep it up team. Thanks for the quality XC coverage Pinkbike.
  • + 23
 Give me one race where Schurter, Gaze, Cooper, and MVDP are all healthy and untroubled by mechanicals. I know that illness, injury, and instrument failure are part of the sport, but life in XC is exciting now that Schurter has bonafide competition. Also, wow - Kulhavy won the Cape Epic and no one's said a word about him since. Granted, his teammates have been big news but it seems like he's been having a down year. This is usually the race where I expect to see him fighting for the win.
  • + 14
 Did you watch the race, they spent plenty of time on Kulhavy. He was fighting for 5th and something happened on a climb...it looked like one of his gears stripped but not sure.
  • - 2
 MVDP was alright. I was there yesterday and it was obvious that he got overcooked, so his concentration faded and he went straight into a tree in a pretty tame place. Shame about Gaze though, that was just bad luck.
  • + 9
 @xvire: actually he was not. What do you expect after barely one and a half week after surgery?
  • + 7
 @xvire: Agreed. Nino was really too fast to follow, putting down massive pressure on MVDP and Gaze, which caused them to mistakes.
  • + 9
 vdp openly stated he was having issues with his wrist on the course as it’s so rough
  • + 4
 @rrsport: I not that far of thinking he is not smart to race with such a recent screwed scaphoid...this little bone could be a big problem and he has his career front of him...
  • + 3
 @Snowytrail: Looked like chain suck on the rear cassette... That I think was the worst thing in he race, it just stopped him in the midst of his attack.

To bad no pitchers of (someone else's) superman at the finish.
  • + 4
 Colom’s Superman was one of the highlights. Along with Maja coming up from almost last at the start to finish 5th.
  • + 12
 Gunn-Rita 6th on a hard tail with no dropper!
  • + 5
 Great coverage! This looks like old school XC race courses from the 90's.
At what point do the benefits of a dropper post outweigh (pun intended) the risk of going slower over rock drops, or possibly OTB and DNF'ing?
I'd be running one.
  • + 1
 The dropper isn't just to go fast downhill, its to recover on the downs.
youtu.be/YvBetmOaeOo
  • + 8
 I have a ton of respect for the stamina and skill of these riders. Incredible performances!
  • + 5
 Batty uses her middle finger on the brake levers? Or is she just giving the bird to the photographers?
  • + 1
 Certainly seems to be.
  • + 4
 Braking with the middle finger allows the pinky and index finger to stay on the bars, giving a wider and more stable grip than if you'd brake with the index finger which allows you to only grip the bar between pinky and middle finger. Downside is that you need to set the lever (and bite point) relatively far from the bars otherwise you'd pinch the index finger while braking. Not everyone likes them that far but I do prefer them this way too.
  • + 1
 She does. I've seen her do this in multiple photos (and once in person) over the years.

I'm betting it might have to do with habit learned years ago when she started riding, trying to reach brakes with smaller hands.
  • + 5
 N1no, Is he weaker or the rest stronger?
  • + 14
 Nino's getting older and the next generation is nipping at his heels!
  • + 14
 @billreilly: It's exactly what Nino did to Absalon for the last 5 years. It's interesting watching the old masters loosing their physical edge but having enough experience and determination to stay on top. Eventually it won't be enough and someone else will take the crown. I'm sure Nino has got plenty of wins left in him yet but it's leading to some fantastic racing in the meantime.
  • + 4
 I actually think Nino could have won comfortably today but he basically did a race of max efforts when VdP, Forster were riding hard. Cooper rode a very steady race to bridge to Nino. Taking nothing away from Cooper. Brilliant ride.
  • + 3
 Thank you PinkBike! Your XC coverage and pictures are awesome.
  • + 2
 Loving all the XC coverage, Thanks!
  • + 2
 Never noticed that Emily Batty brakes with her middle finger!
  • + 1
 Anybody else notice Emily Batty usining her middle finger on her brakes, interesting.
  • + 2
 One of Nino's impressive win. Look at the legs though, hard as solid rock.
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