We had an idea that the season opener could be a wild one, but we didn't think it would shake out like this. After a perfect season, we thought the streak might continue. If anyone was going to be the man to end it, we thought Mathieu van der Poel might be that man. He was hungry, fit, and a bit pissed about the way his cross season ended. What we saw instead was a young gun fresh off a U23 world champion title get out front and take it to the champ. It was an impressive feat. Most thought that Nino was toying with Gaze, but when Gaze took the lead back in the final moments of the race, we knew things would be very interesting down the finish straight. What we didn't see coming was the pedal slip during the sprint, and like that the streak was over. It was an incredible way to start off the season. The race in the women's field was nothing short of phenomenal as well. Pauline Ferrand Prevot came out swinging after a long dry spell and duked it out with Annika Langvad who would eventually take the win. Malene Degn took her first World Cup win in the U23 Women and Petter Fagerhaug took his first win of the season for the U23 men.
Not a bad day to race some bikes.
Evie Richards warms up the engine before heading out on the track.
Sina Frei digging deep climbing out of the arena. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to beat teammate Malene Degn.
Malene Degn takes a tumble as dry earth gives way. It would be the only slip up she had in this race.
Degn cutting across Pick up Sticks.
Evie Richards tried her best today, but it wasn't meant to be. She had to settle for third in this first round.
Sina Frei might not be that long, but this young Swiss rider packs quite a punch.
Win number one for Malene Degn, she took total control of this course. Perhaps Loic is rubbing off on her.
The men's U23 field blazes off.
Fagerhaug's form resembled last year's start; uncontested.
Simon Andreassen leads Petter Fagerhaug in the first lap.
Ben Oliver finds his flow in the rocks to take second in the U23 men.
With two minutes to go, media scatters.
The women elite field takes off, with Jolanda Neff, recovering from a broken clavicle, on the front.
In the second lap, Langvad made a mistake allowing Ferrand-Prevot to close the gap. She would take the lead shortly later, but Langvad countered and rode away.
Pauline Ferrand Prevot had and early lead, but a mechanical cost her the win. It's good to see Pauline back on form.
Neff is coming off an injury but pulled off a sixth place in the opening round.
Catherine Pendrel and Jolanda Neff duke it out in the final laps.
Anne Tauber rode a strong and consistent race, staying close to Pauline Ferrand-Prevot and Annika Langvad, finishing thrid.
Maja, Jolanda and Grobert sprinting for 4th, 5th and 6th.
Langvad brings win number one home.
Helen Grobert shocked herself with a fourth place finish.
Annie Last will be back to fight another day.
Mathieu van der Poel looking calm, cool, and collected pre race.
If you weren't up in the front half, you were dismounting.
Maxime Marotte was putting down the power in the latter half of the race. He rode like a mad man to third.
Started fifth row and was in fifth place all in the first lap. Mathieu van der Poel is a weapon and should be looked at as such in future races.
Maxime Marotte is one of the fast Frenchies challenging Nino Schurter's supremacy in mountainbiking. Up untill the very last moment he was within inches of leaders Gaze and Schurter.
Nino Schurter saw Sam Gaze take the lead time and time again.
Cheering for whips, Schurter pleases the crowd.
The battle of the day: Gaze versus Schurter.
Nino came out with the lead but Gaze had other designs on the day.
As Gaze pulled away, Schurter put the power down only to slip from his pedal briefly disengaging. Would he be able to best Gaze if it would not have happened?
Utter elation from that first World Cup Elite win....
Followed by the pain you went through to get there.
The streak is over. The arguments will go for days, but many on the ground think Gaze would have had Nino even if he hadn't slipped a pedal.
Visibility was not so good if you were mid pack.
Gaze and van der Poel pre awards, post beat down.