With its wild weather and rowdy tracks, 2021's World Cup season has been one of the hardest to predict in years. Maribor is set to offer a dry track for the first time all year but who will prosper in the dusty conditions? Here are our picks for the win on Sunday.
I've backed Vergier for the win at every round of the World Cup so far this year and he's yet to produce the goods with a best result of 25th in Les Gets. I'm hoping it will be third time lucky for Vergier in World Cups this year as he's dominated pretty much every other race he's entered in 2021. He's now unbeaten on this Maribor track since April 2019 after picking up both World Cup wins at the double header here last year
and just last weekend he won the European Championships too
A DNF and a 25th really don't represent the pace Vergier is carrying this year and on a drier, more consistent track in Maribor, he should be able to finally show that off in a finals run.
When a racer takes their first win, one of two things tends to happen. Either they go on to take a handful of wins in a row, such as Pierron, Hart and Gwin, or they can struggle to find that same form again for a while such as Greenland, MacDonald and Brosnan. Currently the one World Cup win club contains nine riders but I don't think Daprela will be sticking around in it for long. Daprela has won in Maribor as a junior and finished 10th and 2nd at the double header here last year in his first-ever Elite races. He should have fully shaken off the crash that was supposed to hold him back in Les Gets
and will be frighteningly fast this weekend.
I've had some flak for being a bit too safe in these predictions so I'm picking a third rider who I think is due another big result, Phil Atwill. Phil is revitalized this year on his own program and although he's yet to crack the top ten, he's been able to lay down some seriously fast sectors in his wild runs. He was the fastest of anyone in the second sector in Les Gets and second fastest through the stumps in Leogang. If he can put it all together and produce a consistent run in Maribor we could see Filthy Phil back on the podium again.
Myriam Nicole was on a tear in Les Gets but a mistake in the woods saw her forfeit the win by about a quarter of a second to Tahnee Seagrave. On the new Supreme frame
, Nicole is dangerously fast this year, which she demonstrated perfectly by qualifying 8 seconds clear of the rest of the field
in the last round, but like her compatriot Veriger a winning finals run hasn't yet clicked into place. She'll be gunning for the win again in Maribor and hoping that this time there are no slip ups.
It was clear in Les Gets that something wasn't quite right with Vali Holl. The Austrian prodigy was only racing her second senior World Cup and the level of expectation placed on her shoulders was astronomical. She said after the race that she "can’t keep it together at the moment" so will probably have been more glad than anyone for the month-long, mid-season break to get her head in order and refocus on the season ahead. It's undeniable that Holl has had winning pace this year but mistakes, especially on the last corners of tracks, have cost her stronger results. The first World Cup win for the young racer surely can't be far away.
Tadej Pogacar and Primoz Roglic have already made 2021 an incredible year for Slovenian Cycling but Hrastnik could add the cherry on top as she races on home soil this weekend.
By winning the European Championships, Monika Hrastnik kept the starred jersey in the Dorval AM team and also marked herself out as one of the favourites to deliver a strong result in the World Cup. In 2021 Hrastnik has established herself as a podium regular and with the home crowd behind her will be looking to equal or better her best-ever World Cup result of third.