Rise of the Olympians - Cairns XC World Cup 2016

Apr 24, 2016
by Matthew DeLorme  



Here we are at the start of a fresh new World Cup XC season. Not just any season, an Olympic season. This isn't our typical year of XC. World Champs comes mid-season in Nove Mesto, so we have current year World Champions heading to the games. For most of the riders who have been selected by their respected federations for the games, it's the highest honor. As such it could be expected to see some surprising results these next few rounds. Most of these guys will be training to peak for the games. With the exception of a very select few, not many will be able to peak for Worlds, and then peak again so soon for the Olympics. It could be possible for someone who is going to the games who knows they don't have a great shot a medaling to peak early and take a shot at a World Championship. For that, we shall have to wait and see. What we do know is that there were a few big names missing from this first round. Jolanda Neff, Gunn-Rita, and Pauline Ferrand Prevot to name a few. At any rate, it will be an interesting season.

What we did see in Cairns wasn't so unusual, but there were a couple surprises. Annika Langvad rode an incredibly strong race, starting the season of as she finished the last one. Linda Indergand took second, and Aussie Bec Henderson battled her way to a phenomenal third place finish. Nino Schurter added one more win to his name. Maxime Marotte took a well raced second place. Julien Absalon was third after fighting his way up from mid-pack. Now that we have some chess pieces on the board, we will have to wait until Albstadt to see if this is a pattern that will gel, or if there will a shake-up of the status quo.

XC Cairns

Scott Bowden your fastest U23 Aussie.
Scott Bowden, your fastest U23 Aussie.

Sam Gaze took a win today by a hairs margin.
Sam Gaze took a win today by a hair's margin.

Jan Vastl crashes in the rockgarden. The course would claim multiple victims during the day.
Jan Vastl crashes in the rock garden. The course would claim multiple victims during the day.

Sam Gaze looks over his shoulder as he is about to finish in Cairns.
Sam Gaze looks over his shoulder as he is about to finish in Cairns.

Bec Henderson and Emily Batty warming up in a bit of shade.
Bec Henderson and Emily Batty warming up in a bit of shade.

Annika Langvad looked quietly confident at the start.
Annika Langvad looked quietly confident at the start.

Eva Lechner and Catharine Pendrel keep cool prior to the start.
Eva Lechner and Catharine Pendrel keep cool prior to the start.

Catharine Pendrel rode hard today and fought it out with Bec Henderson but Henderson would have her in the end. Pendrel finished fourth.
Catharine Pendrel rode hard today and fought it out with Bec Henderson, but Henderson would have her in the end. Pendrel finished fourth.

Linda Indergand powering up the climb to the top of the course. Indergand rode to second.
Linda Indergand powering up the climb to the top of the course. Indergand rode to second.

Annika giving it all in the descent.
Annika giving it all in the descent.

Bec Henderson was poised for a good result in Cairns. In pursuit of Annika Langvad followed closely by Catharine Pendrel.
Bec Henderson was poised for a good result in Cairns. In pursuit of Annika Langvad, followed closely by Catharine Pendrel.

Once Langvad got out in front she stayed there.
Once Langvad got out in front, she stayed there.

The women battle during the first laps of the course on the narrow trails of Cairns.
The women battle during the first laps of the course on the narrow trails of Cairns.

Annika Langvad going into her final lap taking no chances and aero-tucking it all the way down the finish straight.
Annika Langvad going into her final lap, taking no chances and aero-tucking it all the way down the finish straight.

Chloe Woodruff and Emily Batty duking it out past the hecklers.
Chloe Woodruff and Emily Batty duking it out past the hecklers.

Sabine Spitz weaving her way through the leafbro to a fifth place finish.
Sabine Spitz weaving her way through the #leafbro to a fifth place finish.

Kate Courtney started two minutes behind the pro field and ended up powering up to the twenties in the pro field by race end.
Kate Courtney started two minutes behind the pro field in the U23 class and ended up powering up to the twenties in the pro field by race end taking the win in U23.

Bec Henderson had the ride of her World Cup career on home soil taking third.
Bec Henderson had the ride of her World Cup career on home soil, taking third.

Bec Henderson had a strong start and got out front early.
Bec Henderson had a strong start and got out front early.

Annika Langvad pulls out win number one.
Annika Langvad pulls out win number one.

Ozzie ozzie ozzie oy oy oy Third for Bec Henderson. Well deserved.
Aussie Aussie Aussie, oy oy oy! Third for Bec Henderson. Well deserved.

Some days you have the track others it has you.
Some days you have the track, others it has you.

Eva Lechner spent at race end.
Eva Lechner, spent at race end.

Have to replace those sugars.
Have to replace those sugars.

These Italian guys fueled many of the press guys in Cairns. Grazi
These Italian guys fueled many of the press guys here in Cairns. Grazi!

Julien Absalon moments from the start.
Julien Absalon, moments from the start.

Julien Absalon now rides a dropper post in his BMC.
Julien Absalon now rides a dropper post in his BMC.

Start lap scrum.
Start lap shuffle.

What would an xc piece be without Nino whipping out some style.
What would an XC piece be without Nino whipping out some style?

Nino Schurter seemed unleashed in the first lap riding away from the field right from the start. Maxime Marotte was on fire however giving him a run for his money.
Nino Schurter seemed unleashed in the first lap, riding away from the field right from the start. Maxime Marotte was on fire however, giving him a run for his money.

Lars Forster s first elite level World Cup race went pretty well with a sixth. Watch this man.
Lars Forster's first elite level World Cup race went pretty well with a sixth. Watch this man.

The atmosphere in Cairns was amazing. Thanks Ozzies for your incredible cheering. Yours truly is still in recovery after capturing this one for your enjoyment.
The atmosphere in Cairns was amazing. Thanks Aussies, for your incredible cheering. Yours truly is still in recovery after capturing this one for your enjoyment.

Maxime Marotte plunging into the gnar on his way to second place.
Maxime Marotte plunging into the gnar on his way to second place.

Mathias Fluckiger had a strong ride he even took the lead at one point. He came across the line in fourth.
Mathias Fluckiger had a strong ride, he even took the lead at one point. He came across the line in fourth.

Meet Mathieu van der Poel a Dutchman at 21 years of age. Won the cyclocross World Championships in 2015. Now he aims for the 2016 Olympics. In his first international mountainbike race in Cyprus we won one of the stages. In his first World Cup starting far back in the field on a tough track he came in 32nd after destroying his rear wheel.
Meet Mathieu van der Poel, a Dutchman, 21 years of age. Van der Poel won the cyclocross World Championships in 2015, now he is aiming for the 2016 Olympics. In his first international mountain bike race in Cyprus, he won one of the stages. In his first World Cup, starting far back in the field on a tough track, he came in 32nd after destroying his rear wheel.

Julien Absalon had troubles early on but be battled his way back through the field to take third.
Julien Absalon had troubles early on but he battled his way back through the field to take third.

Florian Vogel pointing it down Croc Slide. Vogel took fifth place today.
Florian Vogel pointing it down Croc Slide. Vogel took fifth place today.

Aussie Dan McConnell was a favorite for the podium here but double flats dimmed those hopes.
Aussie Dan McConnell was a favorite for the podium here, but double flats dimmed those hopes.

Julien Absalon suffered a flat in the race and due to a dropped and lost allen key lost over a minute extra in the tech area. There s only one way back to the top after such an event push harder then anyone else.
Julien Absalon suffered a flat in the race and due to a dropped and lost allen key he lost over a minute extra in the tech area. There's only one way back to the top after such an event - push harder than anyone else.

Nino Schurter crosses the line with Maxime Marotte coming in just behind him.
Nino Schurter crosses the line with Maxime Marotte coming in just behind him.

The sting of washing off a hard fought battle.
The sting of washing off a hard fought battle.

Lukas Fluckiger congratulates brother Mathias on a race well ridden.
Lukas Fluckiger congratulates brother Mathias on a race well ridden.

With all the rain we ve had this week you wouldn t expect to see riders come through with so much dust on their legs.
With all the rain we've had this week you wouldn't expect to see riders come through with so much dust on their legs.

Certainly not the last time we will see Nino on the top step this season.
Certainly not the last time we will see Nino on the top step this season.

See you and your wacky wildlife next year Cairns.
See you and your wacky wildlife next year Cairns.

Full XCO results here.


MENTIONS: @mdelorme / @ikeizer




91 Comments

  • + 98
 Stoked to see this on here. Such a contrast to the DH scene, but I still love it. And stoked to see some riders adding in dropper posts. I can't even imagine trying to charge through rock gardens or hit drops on an XC bike with the seat post up my ass.
  • + 13
 No shit ( pun intended )
  • + 11
 read this article, looked at the awesome photos, and that race course. made me want to start racing XC again (I raced at National level in the UK until 1995)

great to see this kind of coverage of XC racing on Pinkbike.
  • - 34
flag fecalmaster (Apr 25, 2016 at 0:35) (Below Threshold)
 Soo much spandex such little time
  • - 17
flag FrEeZa (Apr 25, 2016 at 1:58) (Below Threshold)
 @fecalmaster: Came here to say the same. So happy the kids are starting to run dropper posts instead of taking off more bolts from the rotors.
  • - 10
flag hardyk (Apr 26, 2016 at 14:47) (Below Threshold)
 where the girls tits at ?
  • + 1
 @hampsteadbandit: I had been Raceing on the xc nps from 95 to 2016 the track we raced in pembery back in april fun track too.
  • + 1
 @hampsteadbandit: mate I have been doing national level from 95 to 2016 and now to 2017 the tracks on the nationals are much better is now it is was back then
  • + 54
 Awesome photos! That course looks super gnarly and totally fun. Maybe not so fun when your lungs are about to explode though!
  • + 11
 All good photos till I hit the two red jube jubes...
  • + 0
 And not so fun when your seat is in the "I'd rather not" zone
  • + 1
 @deepcovedave: didn't know what "jube jubes" was til I saw the offensive picture..wtf
  • + 44
 The fact that Julien came back after flatting is awesome. He really pushed to get back to the top after that.
  • + 2
 Absalon's ride was unbelievable. He lost so much time on that flat and bungled wheel change, he was way back in 30+ position I think. Simply incredible that he managed to pass more than two dozen world-class-fast riders to climb almost all the way back up. What a race he would have put on if not for the flat; it would have been a real Julien v. Nino battle.

Granted, it gets a little old that Nino and Julien are always at the front, except when Jaro is kicking it, and I think the three of them have won every world cup race for several years now. Wasn't McConnell the last one to win other than those three?
  • + 30
 So stoked to see how much more technical the cross country courses have gotten over the last few years. For awhile there it really seemed to be true that it was all fitness no skills. A lot of courses I've seen lately are legitimately challenging, can't imagine doing them at race pace for the distance they go. Great coverage of the race.
  • + 15
 This was the first WC XC race I've watched. Both the women's and men's races were super entertaining. The course coverage was maybe even better than the DH race. Will be watching again.

P.S. Hey Redbull...I know we're actually spoiled by being able to watch stuff like this live (for free,) but if you could cut down on the technical problems that would be sweet. I hate to look a gift horse in the mouth like that, but it's a blemish on an otherwise awesome broadcast.
  • + 2
 The Redbull XC coverage is usually outstanding. It would be better if (i) Rob Warner would study up, he's been announcing this for years now; (ii) they should get Ned Overend or another legend who knows the sport to tell us about the game within the game (Bart is very smart but is not a master of English so keeps his commentary very simple); and (iii) more focus on the rest of the field and technical spots (good job of this at Cairns).

This stuff belongs on major TV. Especially the DH race which is exciting TV.
  • + 15
 Absalon was like 2 mins back after his mechanics took forever to change a wheel, can't believe he got third. That's damn impressive.
  • + 3
 57 seconds. Would have been held up a little bit by traffic but said most people let him by cleanly
  • + 3
 He said he had one of the best days in his life. So he wasn't too thrilled with that third.
  • + 12
 This was actually more entertaining to watch than the DH race.
  • + 9
 this circuit is amazing. It flows well, is short and dynamic and has several technical parts up and down hill. I wish it had more pictures of the biggest drop.
  • + 9
 I'm waiting for one of the top DH racers to wear some tight cycling gear and blow track records out of the water.
  • + 30
 It's been done and been banned.
  • + 26
 Did you see Bruni's kit and Brosnan's?? Couldn't get much tighter. And Bruni was either wearing "Capri" DH pants, or he had his pants tucked into his socks
  • - 13
flag RedBurn (Apr 25, 2016 at 1:16) (Below Threshold)
 @SlackBoy: yeah that's a first step .... but it's really c*nt from them not to go full skin suit again just because it's not trendy and because they have to suck their sponsor d/*k... it was shown that aerodynamism has a huge influence on the chrono! Just watch this great GMBN video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Loi3L_Uai9o !!!!! Would be magic if one rider would be willing to fck the mtb indutry, goes skinsuit and wins a WC !!!
  • + 3
 The possibility of potential nudity is something the UCI just can't risk.
  • + 1
 borat mode for everybody !
  • + 4
 I, on the other hand, am waiting for XC racers to start wearing non-spandex gear...
  • + 4
 @decom: cannondale rider Marco Fontana isbsporting baggies
  • + 6
 Great pics Pinkbike, Glad to see the coverage! Absalon is looking lean this year, that usually means a good battle. I think it took it easy last year to stay healthy and save up for Rio. Im rooting for the old guy!
  • + 9
 Love the droppr post "invasion" of XCO :-)
  • + 7
 That aero-tuck reminded of the days when I used to put my forearms on my handlebars like I had aero-bars attached on my mountain bike. Razz
  • + 7
 I ever believed if enduro races will timing downhill AND climbing... An XC rider will be the winner... And then "Enduro" is no more, welcome to SuperXC
  • + 0
 And XCO bikes have to grow up to 140 mm to go over that rock gardens...
  • + 4
 Beautiful to see XC on the up and up! It only took twenty years for the courses to finally catch up to bicycle technology. Bravo to both the UCI and to race organisers for making skinny folks in spandex so exciting to watch again.
  • + 7
 Thanks for this article! Love to watch the downhill. but this is more my style of riding.
  • + 6
 Watching Nino tail whip every time he took those doubles and wearing a smile while doing it. Nice!
  • + 5
 What happened to Anton Cooper?
  • + 4
 He was sick the few days leading up to the race so wasn't 100%. Ended up getting lapped out
  • + 3
 @rrsport: aww too bad.. Hope gets better luck next round.
  • + 3
 You can't tell me the weight of a dropper post outweighs the benefits of one ? How can they ride tech shot with a seat up their ass
  • + 4
 Example A: Nino Schurter.

I understand your point though. I think like Peter Sagan deciding not to shave his legs, eventually the community will get over the shock of something that breaks tradition.
  • + 5
 @shankes3: And then Peter shaved his legs. And won Ghent-Wevelgem and Flanders shortly thereafter. Smile
  • + 3
 @LeDuke: I guess you are much more up to date as far as the condition of Peter Sagan's legs are concerned then. Maybe the traditional norms are best...
  • + 1
 They are not really that necessary is all it comes down to. It's kind of like putting a dropper on a dh bike so you can pedal seated on the flat bits. Makes sense in theory but when you are pinning it you don't need the potential problems or weight.
  • + 2
 I agree, that terrain on an xc bike could definitely be faster with a dropper. I canc rush my xc bike down so much more shit with my dropper. A dropper doesn't fit into the xc box though yet and is most likely frowned upon. Somebody will rock one eventually though.
  • + 5
 Totally amazed by Sabine Spitz. She's 44!
  • + 2
 me am 46 this year and stll raceing
  • + 4
 Seriously. Wind resistance happens. Racers, whose livelihood depend on such things, try to minimize it. Shocking, I know.
  • + 3
 Julien Absalon es un verdadero moutro del xc a pesar del pinchazo terminó de tercero
  • + 5
 Trails looks nice
  • + 4
 damn Julien Absalon is lean
  • + 6
 he ran a great race considering the flat he had! I don't think he is done yet, he's looking very strong, should be some great battles with him and Nino this year.
  • + 3
 @mtbiker4Lyf: He greatly improved on the downhills comparing to previous years he hasn't lost any time to Nino. It seems the trainings with his brother worked. Smile
  • + 5
 yeee Annika.
  • + 3
 What kind of wheels was Emily Batty running? I couldn't quite make out the name... (16th photo)

Cool coverage. XC is tough.
  • + 1
 New Bontragers I think
  • + 2
 "When I look at Emily Batty the last thing I'm thinking about is her wheels."
-me
  • + 4
 Am I seeing things, that's basically a full om downhill course!!
  • + 4
 And they need to pedal up to the top for the next run, no lift or shuttle... and repeat it 6-7 times in a row. Smile
  • + 32
 Average pinkbiker would "need" 160mm travel enduro bike to ride that course.
  • + 3
 @Hippo04: Agree and count me in... Smile
  • + 1
 Well done PB on covering Women and Men equally! Nice change to other sites. They both put in the effort and offer a great performance.
  • + 2
 Awesome coverage - amazing photo's really telling the Story! Thanks Pinkbike and Staff!
  • + 3
 Pink Bike in it´s finest. Good job.
  • + 3
 amazing
  • + 2
 Not a knee pad in sight
  • + 1
 after seeing this, 29ers aren't so gay
  • - 3
 Aero tuck wtf..
  • + 8
 They tuck in DH too u know... why wouldn't ya if the air is gonna slow you down...
  • + 3
 @zephxiii: my comment was based on her grabbing her fork, definitely not Good method for dh
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