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Pinkbike Primer: Everything You Need to Know Ahead 2021's First World Cup XC in Albstadt

May 6, 2021
by Alicia Leggett  
Kate Courtney brings home win number one for the season.

Here we are. After a long winter without racing and a long 2020 with minimal racing, Albstadt is back on the horizon for the first time since 2019. After the cancellation of the 2020 Albstadt XC World Championships, no doubt racers are excited to roll back onto the course.

Since the competitors last raced Albstadt, we've seen lots of team shuffling: Reigning Elite Men's World Champ Jordan Sarrou's switch from BMC Absolute Absalon to Specialized, the Elite Women's World Champ Pauline Ferrand-Prevot's from Canyon to BMC Absolute Absalon, Canyon's new all-star Canadian team of Emily Batty and Laurie Arsenault, Maxime Marotte's move from Cannondale to Santa Cruz, Andreasson and Hatherly to Cannondale, and more.

We've also seen the postponement of the 2020 Olympics, which will have massive implications for the racers this year, assuming the rescheduled event takes place. The riders have been training hard through the winter and are ready to test themselves after the hiatus, and we're looking forward to seeing how the 2021 XC season opener shakes out.

The track

The 4.1km course is more physically than technically demanding, and the organizers caused controversy in 2019 when they further sanitized the course after some nasty crashes in the muddy 2018 races. We expect that they've made more changes in preparation for the canceled 2020 World Champs, though we still anticipate the course being relatively smooth. It's a climber's course, combined with fast descents and minimal recovery time.

Previous winners

Albstadt has been a stop on the World Cup XC circuit since 2013. While the men's field has been mostly dominated by Schurter and Absalon, the women's races have been more varied, with only Jolanda Neff winning more than once at this venue.


Elite Men: Dan McConnell
Elite Women: Eva Lechner


Elite Men: Julien Absalon
Elite Women: Pauline Ferrand Prevot


Elite Men: Julien Absalon
Elite Women: Jolanda Neff


Elite Men: Julien Absalon
Elite Women: Annika Langvad


Elite Men: Nino Schurter
Elite Women: Yana Belomoina


Elite Men: Nino Schurter
Elite Women: Jolanda Neff


Elite Men: Mathias Flueckiger
Elite Women: Kate Courtney


Albstadt World Championships Canceled

Final Overall Standings - 2020

Jolanda Neff pulled off a clean holeshot.
A relatively blank slate for 2021 means we should prepare for some serious battles.

1. Henrique Avancini
2. Nino Schurter
3. Victor Koretzky
4. Jordan Sarrou
5. Milan Vader
6. Ondřej Cink
7. Maxime Marotte
8. Luca Braidot
9. Mathias Flueckiger
10. Titouan Carod
1. Pauline Ferrand-Prevot
2. Loana Lecomte
3. Anne Terpstra
4. Rebecca McConnell
5. Eva Lechner
6. Janica Loiv
7. Evie Richards
8. Sina Frei
9. Lena Gerault
10. Maja Wloszczowska

Weather forecast

Racers struggled through the mud and fought to stay upright in nasty conditions last time the World Cup visited Albstadt. With the chance of rain this week into Friday, we may see something similar for the short track races Friday evening, but the forecast looks much more optimistic for the weekend.

Jordan Sarrou had a strong ride in the muck to take third today.
Friday, May 7 - Short Track
Cloudy most of the time with a couple of showers; chilly // 26°C // 71% precipitation // wind 13km/h

Saturday, May 8 - Junior and U23 races
Warmer with times of clouds and sun // 13°C // 1% precipitation // wind 11km/h

Sunday, May 9 - Elite races
Warmer with times of clouds and sun // 22°C // 0% precipitation // wind 11km/h

Weather forecast as of Tuesday, May 4. Live updates from Accuweather.


Kate looking to jump ahead.

All times CEST

Thursday, May 1
• 12:00-13:30 // Official XCO Training - Women Under 23 and Elite
• 13:30-15:00 // Official XCO Training - Men Under 23 and Elite
• 15:00-17:00 // Official XCO Training - All including Juniors

Friday, May 7
• 09:30-11:00 // Official XCO Training - Women Under 23 and Elite
• 11:00-12:30 // Official XCO Training - Men Under 23 and Elite
• 12:30-14:00 // Official XCO Training - Junior Women
• 14:00-15:30 // Official XCO Training - Junior Men
• 15:45-16:30 // Official XCC Training - Women
• 16:30-17:15 // Official XCC Training - Men
• 17:30 // World Cup Cross-country Short Track - Women
• 18:15 // World Cup Cross-country Short Track - Men

Saturday, May 8
• 08:00-09:00 // Official XCO Training - Juniors
• 09:30 // XCO Junior Series - Men
• 12:15 // XCO Junior Series - Women, all Juniors awards to follow
• 12:30-13:30 // Official XCO Training - Men Under 23 and Elite
• 13:30-14:30 // Official XCO Training - Women Under 23 and Elite
• 15:00 // World Cup Cross-Country Olympic - Men Under 23
• 16:30 // World Cup Cross-Country Olympic - Women Under 23, all U23 awards to follow

Sunday, May 9
• 09:00-10:30 // Official XCO Training - Men and Women Elite
• 11:20 // World Cup Cross-Country Olympic - Women Elite, followed by awards
• 14:35 // World Cup Cross-Country Olympic - Men Elite, followed by awards

Note: All times are local and subject to change by the UCI/event organizer.

How to watch

Lars Forster leads the men out of the start.

Tune in to Pinkbike to catch all the Albstadt coverage throughout the week.

All the elite races can be streamed live on redbull.tv.

(All times in CEST, replay available immediately following the races)

- Albstadt XCC Women and Men: Friday, May 7 - 5:20pm (7:20am PDT, 10:20am EDT, 3:20pm GMT, 02:20am +day NZST)
- Albstadt XCO Women: Sunday, May 9 - 11:00am (2:00am PDT, 5:00am EDT, 9:00am GMT, 9:00pm NZST)
- Albstadt XCO Men: Sunday, May 9 - 2:15pm (5:15am PDT, 8:15am EDT, 12:15pm GMT, 12:15am +day NZST)

Note: These times are subject to change. Please check with your local provider.

Pinkbike Predictions

Mathieu Van der Poel stayed quiet until the very last lap.
MVDP has a good chance of doing well this weekend.

I am excited to see Mathieu Van Der Poel on the start list. The Dutch multi-discipline star is shifting his focus to mountain biking for the time being despite having already collected some impressive results on the road bike this season. Anything could happen, but we know he at least has the power it would take to win this round. For silver, I'm picking Mathias Flueckiger because of his strong showing here last year. Mathias beat Nino in a battle earlier this year in Austria, and I think he could do it again. Rounding out the podium, I'm going out on a limb to bet on some young talent: Tom Pidcock. Pidcock took a commanding win last weekend at the first Swiss Bike Cup, gapping Carod by three minutes. The underdog U23 rider will be stepping up to mix with the big cats, and he'll want to prove himself. Although his start position won't do him any favors, I think he can get scrappy and fight his way to the front.

In the women's field, Kate Courtney took a solid second place at the Swiss Bike Cup, so we know she brought her A-game across the pond. We also know that after her World Championship victory in 2018 and the World Cup Overall title in 2019, she fell through the ranks a bit in 2020 and will be hungry to bring her best to 2021. Next, Loana Lecomte took a huge win at the third Internazionali D'Italia round this season and we very well might see her carry that momentum forward. For third place, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot has an impressive collection of rainbow jerseys and can clearly excel under pressure, which is what it will take to succeed this weekend with all eyes turned to the first 2021 World Cup race on a new bike and team setup.

1 // Mathieu VAN DER POEL
2 // Mathias FLUECKIGER
3 // Tom PIDCOCK
1 // Kate COURTNEY
2 // Loana LECOMTE

Fantasy League

And since participating is way more fun than sitting on the sidelines, Fantasy XC is back for 2021. Don't forget to pick your teams!

The Fantasy XC League is Presented by RockShox and SRAM.


Author Info:
alicialeggett avatar

Member since Jun 19, 2015
745 articles

  • 21 0
 Nino's dominance pre-2019 was a bit boring, 2019 got better with MVDP and Avancini, this year will be even better. The women's racing will remain as entertaining as it always was with plenty of competition, hopefully with Evie top of the podium soon.
  • 8 0
 "The underdog U23 rider will be stepping up to mix with the big cats, and he'll want to prove himself. Although his start position won't do him any favors, I think he can get scrappy and fight his way to the front. Van Der Poel faced a similar task in his first race at Nove Mesto in 2017 and managed to battle past 81 racers to finish 10th, could Pidcock go even better on this climber-friendly course?"

Van der poel first 3 races he finished 30,90,30 and only his 4th race he cracked a top10
  • 8 0
 Ungrateful sounding opinion here, but could we get the people not starting grayed out on the fantasy. It’s kind of hard for the more casual fans to find updated start lists.
  • 8 0
 Ah, yes, the time of year when everybody on this website complains about Scribd
  • 1 3
 what is the complaint about Scribd?
  • 7 0
 Hardtail for the win this weekend!
  • 5 0
 Got excited for a moment thinking short track is only a few hours a way, then the realization it's only Thursday not Friday...
  • 3 2
 So nice to see some of the big guns from road cycling on a MTB course. MVDP and Pidcock are some of the greatest in road racing right now, and it shows that XC is rellay something and it can compare whit is narrow-tyred cousin.
  • 9 1
 If you haven't seen MVDP and Pidcock on an MTB-course before you can’t have payed much attention to MTB-racing …
  • 2 1
I'd argue that they're not pure road riders; they may ride on the road, but both of them are multi discipline racers - whether that be on the trails, in the field or on the road - and long may it continue.
  • 3 1
 @magnusc: I´ll have but that was before Pidcock was a big name in road cycling. In 2019 he was only a name in CX. MVDP have allready been on stage for some yeas, and it is just great he still continues on the MTB. 10 years ago the road cycling often took over some of the talents in MTB like Peter Sagan or Jakob Fuglsang. Today they might stay with the MTB caused by the popularity (money). And that's nice!
  • 1 0
 @mrhedab: I might have misunderstood what you where writing. I also like that they (are allowed by their team to) compete in MTB-races when they do so well on the road. With the rise of these new multitalented riders I think the teams finally understand that it’s not all bad to do more than one type of bike-riding.

BTW, Pidcock is the U23 world champion in XCO.
  • 2 1
 My predictions
Men> 1:Mathias Flückiger, 2:Thomas Pidcock, 3:Henrique Avancini
Women>1:Loana Lecomte, 2:Pauline FERRAND-PREVOT, 3:Kate Courtney

  • 2 0
 Pauline won't be in the top 3, she's not peaking right now, aiming at the Olympics ! But I do agree for Loana !
  • 1 0
 @Ricolaburle: By the way, who will participate in the Olympics, French men?
  • 2 0
 @usuusu: We'll know after Nove Mesto,not decided yet! For the women should be Pauline and Loana of course, big surprise otherwise.
  • 2 0
 Me : "Pauline won't be in the top 3...". OK, my bad !
  • 1 0
 @Ricolaburle: Perfect day for France Smile
  • 1 0
 @usuusu: Well...Yes !
  • 4 0
 Finally I am going to start watching RedBull TV again!
  • 3 0
 Lecomte was mentioned in the predictions but excluded from the top 3 list lol
  • 2 0
 Ah yikes, thanks for the catch. Obviously I changed my mind on the predictions haha
  • 1 1
 @alicialeggett: Yes, but you still have a problem with Loana 'cause she's second int the predictions and third in the top list !
  • 1 0
 I think Jordan Sarrou and PFP would have something to say about the 2020 World Champs being 'canceled'. They were moved to Leogang.
  • 2 0
 Would sell my bike to see pidcock win. That's a total lie but it would be kinda cool
  • 2 0
 Your bike sold ?
  • 1 0
 @Ricolaburle: yup. money in wallet, fingers crossed
  • 2 0
 Honestly think Pidcock could win... light and powerful to get up the climbs
  • 1 0
 Not from 92nd on the grid!
  • 2 0
 Never watched an XC race before, but I sure as hell am now! The recap from last year looks insanely entertaining.
  • 4 1
 I'm so desperate for ANY mtb racing, I might even watch XC!
  • 3 0
 1) MVDP
2) Pidcock
3) someone else several minutes behind.
  • 1 0
 Keegan Swanson's Instagram yesterday shows he's riding a Highball for this one.
  • 1 0
 There will be a lot of hardtails here. Course is much tamer than the rest of the stops.
  • 3 0
  • 1 0
 Are we dealing with the same issue last year of it being blacked out in the states and many other countries? VPN time again?
  • 1 0
 It's showing up in the Redbull app for the US.
  • 2 0
 New Santacruz blur ?
  • 1 0
 Yeah, its already been spotted at a couple of the Swiss cups or other races this year. Hasn't been announced yet though I don't think.

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