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Pinkbike Primer - Everything You Need to Know Ahead of the 2021 Val di Sole XC World Champs

Aug 23, 2021
by Ed Spratt  

After some incredible World Cup and Olympic racing, it is now time for the world's best to fight it out for the coveted Rainbow stripes.

So what can we expect to see from the World Champs in Val Di Sole? The week of racing will see the first XCC Short Track World Championships alongside the standard Junior, U23 and Elite XC racing. Loana Lecomte has dominated the World Cup racing this year, but she will be back in the U23 category this week. Loana will be hoping to retain her U23 title from last year. Loana's absence from the Elite racing will let some of the other riders rise to the top, but after her incredible Olympic performance, everyone's eyes will be on Jolanda Neff for the top spot this week. In the Men's racing, Thomas Pidcock and Mathieu Van Der Poel are not racing this week in Val Di Sole, meaning we are most likely in for some big moves and potentially surprising results. Although going on his current form, the biggest favourite is Mathias Flueckiger.

Let's take a look at who has won this prestigious event in the past, what venues have played host, the course the rainbow stripes will be won on this year, what the weather conditions look like, and who we think the favourites are to take the rainbow stripes in 2021.

The Track

The DH course has seen some changes for this year's World Champs and while we haven't seen anything from the XC course yet, we wouldn't be surprised if they have made some changes there as well. Here is a closer look at the Val di Sole course from the last time we saw XC racing there in 2019.

What Happened at the 2020 World Champs

Riders faced horrific conditions at World Champs last year, the biggest challenge was staying upright. In the Elite Women's racing, Pauline Ferrand Prevot led from the start and dominated the race with a massive three-minute winning margin. Second and third place went to Eva Lechner and Rebecca McConnell respectively after an exciting sprint to the line.

The Elite Men's race saw Jordan Sarrou fight his way to the front of the race to take his first Elite World Championship title as Mathias Flueckiger crossed the line in second and Titouan Carod 55 seconds back in third place.

What Happened at the Last Val Di Sole World Cup

Last time we were at Val di Sole for an XC World Cup in 2019, we saw some incredible racing on a flat out and dusty course. Pauline Ferrand Prevot just managed to pull ahead of Jolanda Neff in a race to the line as she won by just a second. Jenny Rissveds came closest to the top two, 1:01 back from Pauline. For the Elite Men, it was Mathieu Van Der Poel who dominated the men's field with a win of over 18 seconds against Mathias Flueckiger. Nino Schurter closed out the top three, 53 seconds off the pace.

Previous World Champions

1990 Ned Overend + Juli Furtado // United States (Durango)
1991 John Tomac _ Ruthie Matthes // Italy (Barga)
1992 Henrik Djernis + Silvia Furst // Canada (Bromont)
1993 Henrik Djernis + Paola Pezzo // France (Métabief)
1994 Henrik Djernis + Alison Sydor // United States (Vail)
1995 Bart Brentjens + Alison Sydor // Germany (Kirchzarten)
1996 Thomas Frischknecht + Alison Sydor // Australia (Cairns)
1997 Hubert Pallhuber + Paola Pezzo // Switzerland (Château-d'Œx)
1998 Christophe Dupouey + Laurence Leboucher // Canada (Mont-Sainte-Anne)
1999 Michael Rasmussen + Margarita Fullana // Sweden (Åre)
2000 Migue Martinez + Margarita Fullana // Spain (Sierra Nevada)
2001 Roland Green + Alison Dunlap // United States (Vail)
2002 Roland Green + Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesja // Austria (Kaprun)
2003 Filip Meirhaeghe + Sabine Spitz // Switzerland (Lugano)
2004 Julien Absalon + Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesja // France (Les Gets)
2005 Julien Absalon + Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesja // Italy (Livigno)
2006 Julien Absalon + Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesja // New Zealand (Rotorua)
2007 Julien Absalon + Irina Kalentieva // United Kingdom (Fort William)
2008 Christoph Sauser + Margarita Fullana // Italy (Val di Sole)
2009 Nino Schurter + Irina Kalentieva // Australia (Canberra)
2010 Jose Antonio Hermida + Maja Włoszczowska // Canada (Mont-Sainte-Anne)
2011 Jaroslav Kulhavy + Catharine Pendrel // Switzerland (Champery)
2012 Nino Schurter + Julie Bresset // Austria (Leogang-Saalfelden)
2013 Nino Schurter + Julie Bresset // South Africa (Pietermaritzburg)
2014 Julien Absalon + Catharine Pendrel // Norway (Lillehammer)
2015 Nino Schurter + Pauline Ferrand-Prevot // Andorra (Vallnord)
2016 Nino Schurter + Annika Langvad // Czech Republic (Nové Město)
2017 Nino Schurter + Jolanda Neff // Australia (Cairns)
2018 Nino Schurter + Kate Courtney // Switzerland (Lenzerheide)
2019 Nino Schurter + Pauline Ferrand Prevot // Canada (Mont-Sainte-Anne)
2020 Jordan Sarrou + Pauline Ferrand Prevot // Austria (Leogang)

Last World Cup Round Recap

The Elite Women faced some very tough conditions in Les Gets with persistent rain and sticky mud. Loana Lecomte once again dominated the race with the lead from the early laps to the finish line. Jenny Rissveds managed to secure a second-place finish after a big crash at the start of the race and some trouble with the conditions. Evie Richards was a rider looking very confident on the tricky course, attacking on the descents and pushing hard for a third-place result. World Champion Pauline Ferrand Prevot once again didn't have an answer for Loana Lecomte, finishing fourth.

There was another dominant rider in the Elite Men's racing as Mathias Flueckiger controlled the speed from the start and looked at home in the wet conditions. Ondrej Cink tried his best over the seven laps to close in on Mathias with some huge efforts up the climbs, but in the end, he had to settle for second place, 25 seconds back. World Champion Jordan Sarrou battled with Alan Hatherly the whole race, but a mistake from the South African on the final section of the track gave Sarrou a third-place finish.

Elite Men

1st. Mathias Flueckiger: 1:27:33
2nd. Ondrej Cink: +25
3rd. Jordan Sarrou: +35
4th. Alan Hatherly: +39
5th. Nino Schurter: +1:21
6th. Daniele Braidot: +1:24
7th. Simon Andreassen: +1:32
8th. Luca Braidot: +1:44
9th. Lars Forster: +1:55
10th. Nadir Colledani: +1:58

Elite Women

1st. Loana Lecomte: 1:27:23
2nd. Jenny Rissveds: +51
3rd. Evie Richards: +1:10
4th. Pauline Ferrand Prevot: +1:51
5th. Rebecca McConnell: +1:55
6th. Anne Tauber: +2:27
7th. Sina Frei: +3:12
8th. Yana Belomoina: +3:46
9th. Ronja Eibl: +3:57
10th. Eva Lechner: +4:42

Overall Standings

1. Mathias Flueckiger - 1169
2. Ondrej Cink - 934
3. Jordan Sarrou - 790
4. Victor Koretzsky - 745
5. Nino Schurter - 734
6. Anton Cooper - 670
7. Alan Hatherly - 668
8. Mathieu Van Der Poel - 570
9. Thomas Griot - 520
10. VThomas Pidcock - 517
1. Loana Lecomte - 1330
2. Pauline Ferrand Prevot - 955
3. Jenny Rissveds - 780
4. Haley Batten - 755
5. Rebecca McConnell - 710
6. Sina Frei - 695
7. Linda Indergand - 693
8. Evie Richards - 585
9. Eva Lechner - 490
10. Anne Tauber - 481

Weather Forecast

The forecast for this week is looking pretty good, although even just a bit of rain the day before the race and in the afternoon on race day for Elites could make the course more difficult for the riders.

Monday, August 23 - Men & Women XCO Training
Cooler with some sun // 23°C // 60% precipitation // wind 28km/h

Tuesday, August 24 - Men & Women XCO Training, Men XCC Qualification
Partly sunny and nice // 25°C // 9% precipitation // wind 15km/h

Wednesday, August 25 - Men & Women XCO Training, Cross-country Team Relay World Championships
Partly sunny and beautiful // 22°C // 25% precipitation // wind 15km/h

Thursday, August 26 - Men & Women XCO Training, Men & Women Junior World Championships, Men & Women XCC World Championships
Mostly sunny and comfortable // 25°C // 3% precipitation // wind 13km/h

Friday, August 27 - Men & Women XCO Training
Cooler with times of clouds and sun; a couple of afternoon showers and a thunderstorm // 20°C // 68% precipitation // wind 13km/h

Saturday, August 28 - U23 Men & Women XCO World Championships, Elite Women & Elite Men XCO World Championships
Partly sunny with a shower in spots in the afternoon // 20°C // 40% precipitation // wind 8km/h

Weather forecast as of Monday, August 23. Live updates from AccuWeather.


Flueckiger was ahead of the pack briefly.

All times CEST

Monday, August 23
• 12:30 - 14:30 Official XCO Training >>> Reserved for women
• 14:30 - 16:30 Official XCO Training >>> Reserved for men

Tuesday, August 24
• 10:00 - 12:30 Official XCO Training >>> Reserved for women
• 12:30 - 15:00 Official XCO Training >>> Reserved for men
• 15:30 - 16:45 Official XCC Training >>> Reserved for men
• 17:00 - 18:00 Men's XCC World Championships Qualification

Wednesday, August 25
• 09:00 - 10:30 Official XCO Training >>> Reserved for women
• 10:30 - 12:00 Official XCO Training >>> Reserved for men
• 12:30 Cross-country Team Relay World Championships

Thursday, August 26
• 09:00 - 10:00 Official XCO Training >>> Reserved for women
• 10:00 - 11:00 Official XCO Training >>> Reserved for men
• 11:30 Women's Juniors Cross-country Olympic World Championships // Followed by Awards Ceremony
• 13:30 Men's Juniors Cross-country Olympic World Championships // Followed by Awards Ceremony
• 15:15 - 16:00 Official XCC Training >>> Reserved for women
• 16:00 - 16:45 Official XCC Training >>> Reserved for men
• 17:00 Women's Cross-country Short Track World Championships
• 17:45 Men's Cross-country Short Track World Championships // Followed by Awards Ceremony

Friday, August 27
• 09:30 - 11:30 Official XCO Training >>> Reserved for women
• 11:30 - 13:30 Official XCO Training >>> Reserved for men

Saturday, August 28
• 07:45 - 08:45 Official Cross-country Training >>> All riders
• 9:00 Women's Under 23 Cross-country Olympic World Championships // Followed by Awards Ceremony
• 10:45 Men's Under 23 Cross-country Olympic World Championships // Followed by Awards Ceremony
• 13:00 Women's Elite Cross-country Olympic World Championships // Followed by Awards Ceremony
• 14:45 – 15:15 Official Cross-country Training >>> Men Elite
• 15:45 Men's Elite Cross-country Olympic World Championships // Followed by Awards Ceremony

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

How to Watch

Jolanda Neff had her best race of the season leading for much of the race. The battle between her and Pauline won t soon be forgotten.

Pinkbike will be providing you with the best daily coverage from our team of photographers in Val di Sole this week. Tune in to Pinkbike to catch photo epics, results, news and tech.

While Red Bull TV is the official broadcaster for the Mercedes-Benz UCI MTB World Cup, they aren't the only official global broadcaster for the World Championships. The UCI packages the DH and XC World Championships alongside all of the other cycling disciplines they own and so it's a separate agreement that needs to be made.

In many instances, the broadcast licensing agreements allow Red Bull to broadcast the World Championship XC and DH races, and in many places, you will be able to watch the World Championships as you would during any World Cup race weekend. Globally, however, it's a bit of patchwork as some countries are not included.


- Val di Sole XCC Women & Men: Thursday, August 26 - 10:45pm EDT // 7:45am PDT // 15:45pm GMT // 16:45pm CEST
- Val di Sole XCO Women: Saturday, August 28 - 6:40am EDT // 3:40am PDT // 11:40 pm GMT // 12:40pm CEST
- Val di Sole XCO Men: Saturday, August 28 - 9:25am EDT // 6:25am PDT // 14:25pm GMT // 15:25pm CEST

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

Pinkbike Predictions

"Mathieu Van Der Poel and Tom Pidock aren't competing in the MTB World Championships, so we're placing our bets on Mathias Flueckiger to take his first Elite title. Mathias has been on top form this year and while he may not have taken the gold medal in Tokyo, he still walked away with a silver medal. Another top rider this year has been Ondrej Cink who has been closely battling Mathias Flueckiger at a couple of races this year. Cink had to pull out of the Tokyo Olympics race after a flat tire, but we think he will be back and looking for a first World Champion title. Closing out our predictions is Nino Schurter. Nino has been off the pace this year, but he does look to be getting closer to the top of the results and with eight wins at the past 12 World Championships, he is impossible to write off this week.

As for the women, the clear choice is the new Olympic Gold medalist Jolanda Neff who put down an incredible performance in Tokyo to pull a 1:11 lead on Sina Frei. Loana Lecomte will be racing in the U23 race this week so we think Jolanda has a great chance of building on her Olympic victory with the Rainbow stripes. Pauline Ferrand Prevot is another rider who could have a season-best performance this week as she comes off winning the European Championships and will be looking to hold the World Champion title after two back to back wins. Lastly, we think Sina Frei could be a contender this weekend after taking a silver medal at the Olympics."

1 // Mathias Flueckiger
2 // Ondrej Cink
3 // Nino Schurter
1 // Jolanda Neff
2 // Pauline Ferrand Prevot
3 // Sina Frei

Fantasy League

Don't forget to complete your XC Fantasy team before racing kicks off.

The Fantasy XC League is Presented by RockShox and SRAM.


Author Info:
edspratt avatar

Member since Mar 16, 2017
3,317 articles

  • 88 0
 I just wanted to say a heart felt THANK YOU Pink Bike for your XC coverage. You are really doing a great job and I know I'm not alone in appreciating it. My wife and I are going to Snowshoe and I can't wait!
  • 4 0
 If it has nobby tires, I wanna read about it. Thanks PB indeed!
  • 14 0
 Looks like it's time to do some more electronic travel thanks to the VPN I set up after last year's very helpful and coincidentally timed article on Pinkbike. If anyone needs me, I'll be in Vietnam - www.pinkbike.com/news/how-to-watch-the-2021-mountain-bike-world-championships-from-val-di-sole.html
  • 10 0
 for the 1990 worlds I had to wait 2 months for mbuk to come out, to find out who won. I still own the march 91 mba with the 4 world winning bikes in it (specialized ultimate, yeti c26, klein rascal, miyata).
it was only last year footage of Tomac winning in italy in 91 was put up on youtube.

coverage is a lot better than it used to be...
  • 1 0
 Aye. And you try and tell that to the young people of today, and would they believe you? Nooo!
  • 7 0
 Time to fire up the ol free VPN machine
  • 7 0
 The u23 women are fighting for silver with Loanna back there
  • 4 0
 Interesting that Neither Victor Koretzsky or Nino Schurter entered in XCC
Will this help their chances given only 45hrs recovery for the others for XCO ??
  • 2 0
 It's too bad you can't watch the Team Relay anymore. Really fun to watch. I think the last that was freely available was the 2018 WC's. It hope it comes back but I'm afraid it's Wishful Thinking at best. I think Jenny Rissved's name needs to be added to that World Champions list. I'd also be gassed to see little Sina win it too.
  • 2 0
 She was only U23 World Champ...never Elite
  • 3 0
 From val di sole : track is a lot different from the precedent round there, it's steeper for the climb and more technical.
  • 3 0
 Here for the MvdP comments
  • 1 1
 Looks like no MvdP at Worlds this year.
  • 2 0
 What you need to know is that Van der Poel is not in the worlds even though he's first pic in the article.
  • 3 0
 Rissveds and M Fluckinger.
  • 2 0
 Interesting that it's on Redbull TV in NZ, it hasn't been in the past :-)
  • 2 0
 Oh bugger, disregard that :-/
  • 5 0
 @notsofastoverfifty: Yeah nah, mate. Sky TV with the two numpties from the Olympics calling the races. Think they were bad for XC race, waaaay worse in DH
  • 1 0
 Did the VPN thing a couple of years ago. But redbull was unwatchable due to it freezing all the time. Better luck this year I hope @handynzl:
  • 2 0
 Getting Ramped up for this event.
  • 2 0
 Why is Loana in U23 category?
  • 13 1
 Dunno, but her age may have something to do with it
  • 1 0
 Like she wasn't dominating elite category.
  • 4 0
 Worlds you have to race in your category. World Cups you are allowed to race up
  • 2 0
 @Supermoo: "4.1.004 Except in the UCI world championships, continental championships and, at the discretion of national federations, national championships, under 23 men and women can ride the events for elite men and women respectively, even if a separate event is being run for under 23 riders."
  • 1 0
 looking forward to the elite E-Mtb XC race (E-XC)....hahahahahaha
  • 1 0
 pretty Flueky winner lol
  • 1 0
 Dark horse Sam Gaze
  • 3 3
 shitty course
  • 4 1
 no u
  • 1 1
 I almost fell asleep during that course preview. So much gravel and grass and almost all tech stuff is just rolling down hill.

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