Race Photo Epic - Stellenbosch World Cup XCO

Mar 11, 2018
by Matthew DeLorme  



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.
Not a bad day to race some bikes.

Evie Richards warms up the engine before heading out on the track.
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 team mate Malene Degn.
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.
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.
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 at this first round.
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.
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.
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.
The men's U23 field blazes off.

Fagerhaug s form resembled last year s start uncontested.
Fagerhaug's form resembled last year's start; uncontested.

Simon Andreassen leads Petter Fagerhaug in the first lap.
Simon Andreassen leads Petter Fagerhaug in the first lap.

Ben Oliver finds his flow in the rocks to take second in the U23 men.
Ben Oliver finds his flow in the rocks to take second in the U23 men.

With two minutes to go media scatters.
With two minutes to go, media scatters.

The women elite field takes off with Jolanda Neff recovering from a broken clavicle on the front.
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.
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.

Stellenbosch XCO

Pauline Ferrand Prevot had and early lead but a mechanical cost her the win. It s good to see Pauline back on form.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Maja, Jolanda and Grobert sprinting for 4th, 5th and 6th.

Langvad brings win number one home.
Langvad brings win number one home.

Helen Grobert shocked herself with a fourth place finish.
Helen Grobert shocked herself with a fourth place finish.

Annie Last will be back to fight another day.
Annie Last will be back to fight another day.

Champagne.
Champagne.

Mathieu van der Poel looking calm cool and collected pre race.
Mathieu van der Poel looking calm, cool, and collected pre race.

If you weren t up in the front half you were dismounting.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nino Schurter saw Sam Gaze take the lead time and time again.

Cheering for whips Schurter pleases the crowd.
Cheering for whips, Schurter pleases the crowd.

The battle of the day Gaze versus Schurter.
The battle of the day: Gaze versus Schurter.

Nino came out with the lead but Gaze had other designs on the day.
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
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?

Pipped at the line.

Utter elation from that first World Cup Elite win....
Utter elation from that first World Cup Elite win....

Followed by the pain you went through to get there.
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.
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.
Visibility was not so good if you were mid pack.

Gaze and van der Poel pre awards post beat down.
Gaze and van der Poel pre awards, post beat down.

Men s Podium - Round 1 of the UCI XCO World Cup.



Previously



88 Comments

  • + 146
 Schurter has more style in Spandex and fixed seatpost than me on my enduro
  • + 85
 That would be 95% of us.
  • + 7
 @nozes: 95% with excessive belly fat. Big Grin
  • + 18
 @nozes: 99.9%
  • + 1
 @indotrails: perfect dad bods
  • + 2
 Agreed - Nino is a class act and when I added in the style points for the whip, he actually came out ahead Smile
Not trying to take away from huge effort and massive talent of Gaze (cheers on the win and shaking things up!), but I do love race-run whips - be it xc, dh, or enduro - it's always refreshing to see the fun of our sport bubble up to the surface in those "serious" moments.
  • + 1
 @endurendo: You just came up with a new race concept : XC&style , like dual speed&style
  • + 122
 f*ck it, I'm gonna say it.

> Perhaps Loic is rubbing off on her.

That's a cheap shot, pinkbike. Don't throw a first-place rider under the bus with an offhand comment like that.
  • + 37
 Yup! Really made me go wtf

Did her descending or technical skills set her apart from the others this race? Does she train with Loic?
Otherwise makes no sense and really takes away from Malene and her team's efforts
  • - 5
flag ictus (Mar 12, 2018 at 2:39) (Below Threshold)
 @DoisforDonuts: She's his girlfriend
  • + 26
 @ictus: So... ?

She was talented before being Loic's girlfriend. Honestly let's not go back to "she rides with her brother or her boyfriend". Let's just say "bravo for you first win" and leave it there.
  • + 12
 What, no pictures of that UCI jackass (Simon Burney) pushing the girls at the start line? He hit Emily Batty in the throat with less than a minute to start the race. He should be fired. I bet he wouldn't try a stunt like that with the guys.
  • + 5
 @alexlag: WTF? :O
Saw that on Emily FB page... What a shame.

Thanks for pointing it out.
  • + 1
 @Rideuse67: it is at min 18:15 from the RedBull replay of the event.
  • + 57
 CX gets a lot of hate but it takes quite some skill to get round some of those world cup tracks. Most of the trails I see guys going round on their 170mm enduro bikes are not even half as gnarly as that course in South Africa.
  • + 25
 *XC
  • + 9
 @JoseBravo: * iPhone :-)
  • + 4
 @JoseBravo: Yeah, makes you wonder how far Van der Poel would get on his CX bike. He's proven to be quite proficient this past season.
  • + 2
 @Scottybike36 That is a great looking course. No wonder more of these XC riders are going for FS instead of HT. Respect to these riders.
  • + 5
 @Travel66: while not as 'rad' as DH or Enduro, XC is a killer sport requiring a huge amount of fitness on top of skill. Thanks for covering PB!
  • + 0
 @Poulsbojohnny: what is this “fitness” you speak of?
  • + 1
 @Poulsbojohnny: every bit as rad
  • + 38
 The craziest moment came at near the end when Gaze slows down and they just eye each other seeing who would attack. That’s when I realized oh @#$% Nino wasn’t just toying with Gaze this whole time.
  • - 1
 I knew way before that. You could see it in Nino's face. Anyway I've got a feeling we won't see Gaze be as competitive in the next round. With that short track qualy in the next round there's going to be someone even faster on the front row.
  • + 31
 @jclnv: I think you'll find the reverse will be true, Gaze is a beast at short track. He won the XC eliminator at the Cairns World Cup in 2014, when he was 19 years old! Since then he's develop more speed and power and won the New Zealand Criterium Champs this year showing insane speed.
  • + 11
 @Gunnie100: Oh yeah I totally agree that he'll be very hard to beat at short track, but he's a big guy. Let's see how he gets on with a course with more sustained climbing. I'm not saying he's not a massive talent but it's his summer and as you say, he's flying right now whereas everyone, apart from a bloody tired MvdP, is only just getting going. I could be wrong but I'll be surprised if he's in the mix all season. MvdP is on another level. You only have to see what he does to Van Aert every race and then see what Van Aert did amongst the best roadies on the planet at Het Neusblad and Strade Bianchi.

I also think those young Frenchies, Carrod etc are only going to get faster as the season goes on.

About time Nino had some competition.
  • + 3
 @jclnv: Gaze will probably be fast on the short track, but we might not see him win again this season because with the Commonwealth games coming soon he has to be in a better shape at this time of the year than the other top guys targeting world champs in september.
  • + 4
 @Fel410: Is the Commie Games still a big deal? I'd be really surprised if he was prioritizing that. I guess I'm in a MTB rabbit hole but to me, what he did yesterday means far more than a Commie Games win.
  • + 3
 @jclnv: Is there some funding from your national federation for a good result at the commie's?
  • + 1
 @RLEnglish: Yeah good point. I guess if the national cycling team prioritize it that changes things. Especially if they supported you as a junior.
  • + 9
 So good! What a race!
  • + 7
 @jclnv: To people in the know for sure, but getting national exposure to laymen during the games is pretty important, for overall sport funding and maybe picking up some advertising gigs in NZ etc...
  • + 1
 @RLEnglish: Nothing for commonweath games. Commonwealth games aren't as big of deal in Canada. Pendrel is sitting them out so a development rider can get that games experience.
  • + 3
 @jclnv: In Nz they are still considered quite a big deal and they do help with funding grants
  • + 1
 @applepie: Yup , gotta get a cut of that SportNZ High-performance pie.

Although Sam and Anton might be on a decent wicket in terms of pay it's not such a big deal.
  • + 3
 Gaze went on to race the annual Cape Town Cycle Tour on Sunday(109km road event, largest timed event in the world with 35k entrants) He placed second behind a local sprinter in about 2h30 odd.
  • + 1
 @jclnv: yeah the Comm games are important to the Kiwis. Cooper got the gold and Gaze got the silver last time. Anton went across to race on the Games course over the summer so it looks like he's keen to defend his title. It'll be a great race, but it'll be hard to top the show that Nino and put on over the weekend.
  • + 38
 Thanks for the photos Pinkbike! XCO athletes are awesome...they can fly uphill and downhill. Don't be a hater just because you can't climb.
  • + 16
 Or descend
  • + 28
 I like that orange bike, the one w the motor
  • + 16
 Funny how that's the only fat guy on two wheels in the photos....
  • + 1
 I do too. Immediately jumped to the website and came back to see who won mens elite.
  • + 15
 It's probably one of the most affordable ones on the photo.
  • + 20
 Fantastic photos. It's great to see you guys really doing a proper job covering the XC World Cup. Keep it coming. As any mountain biker who watched this round knows, it's become a great action sport to watch. When there's competition for 1st place and Red Bull TV actually bother to film the event properly, it's riveting stuff. Here's hoping the new title sponsorship goes some way towards increasing the quality of the TV coverage. It was filmed slightly better than last year so signs are positive. We're really lacking on board footage and data telemetry. Front and rear mounted cameras on the top ten riders would allow the directors twenty extra live angles and obviously supply truly awesome footage. Live power, heart rate and speed would be fun too. Someone hit up GoPro.
  • + 6
 You're talking about guys who do things like shaving the side knobs off their tyres and run 1/3rd full water bottles to save weight. Can't see them wanting to lug cameras around.
  • + 19
 WAHOOOOO KIWI ON TOP STEP !!! Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile
  • + 13
 Sam Gaze came second in the Argus Cycle Tour road race the next day: inthebunch.co.za/2018/03/cape-town-cycle-tour-results-nolan-hoffman-wins
  • + 2
 Hell of a recovery ride!
  • + 3
 He obviously didn't down too much bubbly after his win the night before.
  • + 9
 The way gaze sprinted up that bridge and did a huge pump into the transition before that final corner was legendary. Followed by Nino slipping a pedal and swinging his fist in anger... Thought that was pretty funny. I think Gaze would have won regardless of the pedal slip as well.
  • + 9
 P H E N O M I N A L coverage! Bravo. Love all the photos and the short excerpts to describing each photo. This was clear, concise and ON POINT. And please continue with MORE XC racing coverage.
  • + 2
 *phenomenal... sorry, had to do it.
  • + 6
 Fantastic stuff Pinkbike, this season is going to be insanely competitive with so many in striking distance of the win. Would've appreciated a series of progression pics on that last lap where Nino and Sam were playing tactics on the road. That was probably the first time I've seen a strategy straight from Track Cycling play out in XC, so fascinating!
  • + 2
 That staring contest was intense!
  • + 4
 Watched the majority of the elite mens event and gotta say it was awesome to see Gaze and Nino going at it the whole race! Top 3 riders separated by 3 seconds, this season is gonna be good!!

How do you slip a pedal when on clips? Maybe Nino should try flats? Smile
  • + 6
 What's worse for your lungs, smoking or riding mid-pack XCO?
  • + 1
 Was awesome to be able to watch this live! Great event, great vibe, great track and great riding!! I reckon Nino lost the race when he let Sam take the lead at the beginning of the last lap. Very difficult track to overtake on.
  • + 6
 Nino should have shaved
  • + 4
 Here is the video of the final sprint.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=atJ63Eiuj4Q
  • + 2
 Seriously. Second place by one second. Doesn't matter. How can one guy be that dominant for so long. This is the first race he has "Lost" in a year.... I use the term lost very loosely. Such an absolute monster.
  • + 4
 Fox Orange forks are so 2017 bro. Yellow or Red Rockshox is the one for 2018!
  • + 3
 Awesome to see Mathieu on the podium. He did look like he lost some time on the descents though. Maybe time to get a dropper on that new Lux?
  • + 2
 True, but this course was very technical in comparison with the next rounds. Maybe a better starting spot will make the biggest difference. With the new concept of determining start place, i think -hope- Mathieu has a good chance of doing very good. CX and fast starts etc ... .
  • + 4
 Nino lost it on the uphill bridge just before the final turn. He wouldn't have beaten Gaze even without slipping his pedal.
  • + 1
 Also, I might add that the course turned out to be a hell of time! For all those concerned about a lack of water and placement in the Souther Hemisphere's season, I would state that they were proven wrong and the races couldn't have gone better!
  • + 1
 Great photo spread. Nino's streak is amazing when you think about how common mechanicals are and how much competition he has in the overall XC field. This season should be a good one.
  • + 4
 Holy jeez! That was some racing!!!
  • + 1
 Now that was an intense race. Gutted that Nino got 2nd place and his perfect winning streak is now over but man that was a great race and I can't imagine the suffer fest both riders (actually all the riders) had to endure.
  • + 3
 When the XC is more exciting than a lot of DH racesWink
  • + 4
 Thanks Pinkbike!
  • + 1
 This was such a badass race weekend. And these are badass pictures to match! Thanks for the XCO coverage, PB!
  • + 1
 Looking forward to an exciting and extremely competitive XCO season on both the men's and women's side.
  • + 1
 this final moment before the finish is gold. proves nothing lasts forever. Gaze is a beast. Mario Cippolini of XC.
  • + 3
 Hell of a race, wow.
  • + 1
 I would like to know Sina’s power to weight ratio. She is tiny, but powerful.
  • + 1
 Sam Gaze looks like Prince Phillip from Netflix's The Crown. Lol
  • + 1
 Great job Pinkbike for the amazing coverage. Congrats to Sam!
  • + 2
 Look but don't Gaze
  • - 2
 Removed.
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