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Pidcock, Discovery, & Other Things We Learned from the Nove Mesto XC World Cup 2023

May 16, 2023
by Ed Spratt  
Last year s overall World Cup winner Alessandra Keller will be content with her start to the 2023 season.

As always, Nove Mesto proved itself to be one of the best venues for World Cup racing as we were treated to some incredible moments across a packed schedule of racing. It's great to be back to proper World Cup racing with live broadcasts and here are a few of the things we spotted from the opening round of the XC series.

Tom Pidcock Secures his First XCC Win & Perfect Weekend

Despite seemingly having plenty of success in his off-road ventures it's surprising that Tom Pidcock has never won an XCC race or achieved the rare perfect weekend. Previous years have seen Tom Pidcock's best XCC results come from Nove Mesto but unlike his ability to seemingly always win the XCO here, he has only managed a second place at both 2021 and 22 rounds. A perfect weekend seemed impossible heading into the opening round, but a last-minute XCC call-up meant Tom Pidcock could enter the short track race and an impressive performance saw him go from 40th to 1st. With that Tom Pidcock finally got his XCC win after four unsuccessful attempts. But a win in XCC wasn't enough for Tom Pidcock as he fought hard through the wet and wild conditions for the Elite Men's XCO race to secure his third consecutive Nove Mesto win and his first perfect weekend. Tom Pidcock is now going on a break from XC for a while but he is expected to be back for World Champs in August.
Tom Pidcock didn t have it all his own way today but was ultimately too strong for the rest.

Evie Richards is Back & Looking Fast

After a tough 2022 following her incredible 2021 season where she secured the rainbow stripes, Evie Richards seems to be back on top form in Nove Mesto. The flat-out XCC Short Track race saw the British rider take a great 5th-place finish before she would ride to 4th in the XCO on Sunday. Evie Richards was on track for greater things before a mid-race puncture and slow wheel change took her out of contention. While she may not have taken the top honors at Nove Mesto she will be leaving the Czech Republic with a lot of confidence for the rest of the season as she took her best results since winning at Snowshoe in 2021.
An early gap opened up between Evie Richards and everyone else. She lead the race until an unfortunate flat had her fighting back settling for fourth.

Looking at the lap times produced by Evie Richards you can see that she was very much one of the riders to beat on Sunday. Leading for both lap one and two Evie would suffer a puncture on lap three dropping to seventh position. From here to the end of the race she would fight back to set the fastest times for the closing two laps. The first of these would better the race winner Puck Pieterse by seven seconds and 2nd-placed Pauline Ferrand Prevot by two. The final lap is where things get very interesting as Evie Richard's lap bettered the winner by 14 seconds and was a huge 26-second improvement over Pauline Ferrand Prevot's. Given another lap and it is feasible that she could have ridden her way back into the lead. If she can get a clean race at Lenzerheide we could be in for an amazing performance.

More Road Teams & Brands Getting Involved

The slow creep of road racing teams and brands into XC World Cups is continuing as we saw Alpecin–Deceuninck win the Elite Women's race, a new bike from Willier take the U23 Women's victory and Tom Pidcock pilot this new Pinarello to two wins. Just the battle for the win in the Elite Women's race between Alpecin–Deceuninck (Puck Pieterse) and the Ineos Grenadiers (Pauline Ferrand Prevot) wouldn't be out of place in a Grand Tour.

Along with this the Jumbo–Visma team were in attendance with Milan Vader rocking a special link to replace the rear shock on his new Cervélo ZFS-5 full-suspension race bike. It is very interesting to see these road teams and the engineers of brands that are big in the road world really start to pay attention to XC racing.
A closer look at Milan Vader s hardtail .

Puck Pieterse & Joshua Dubau are Two More Multi-Discipline Talents

Alongside the increased interest of road brands and teams in XC, we are seeing some incredibly talented riders tackling multiple disciplines with great success. Two great examples of riders having great first successes in the elite XC ranks are Puck Pieterse and Joshua Dubau. Puck Pieterse who is just 21 has moved up early to elite racing in 2023 and already has dethroned world champion Pauline Ferrand Prevot in an incredible race performance coming back from a seven-second deficit on the French rider to launch a last-minute attack and win by five seconds. The Dutch rider has already had an incredible career across XC, Road and Cyclocross. In 2023 she has already picked up the title in the European U23 Cyclocross championships and the Elite Dutch Cyclocross championships. Puck Pieterse also came fifth in the Strade Bianche road race.
A ride for the books today for Puck Pieterse.

Puck wasn't the only rider to upset the Ineos Grenadiers as Joshua Dubau made the racing in Nove Mesto a lot harder for Tom Pidcock than he may have thought it would be. The Rockrider Ford Racing Team rider took on the big guns sticking to Tom Pidcock's back wheel and rode a flawless race while the Olympic champion continued to make errors on the wet course. In a David versus Goliath esque battle of Rockrider against Pinarello it was impressive to see Joshua Dubau seemingly come from nowhere in the XC ranks to take on a rider who is quite possibly one of the big talents across the whole of cycling. We can't wait to see how both Puck Pieterse and Joshua Dubau continue with this great form through the rest of the season. Similar to Puck Pieterse, Joshua Dubau has also seen some great successes when taking on the world of Cyclocross.

Warner Bros. Discovery Delivered on the Promise of More Race Coverage

To give credit where it is due there was a lot of worry about what the new World Cup series and its coverage would look like under Warner Bros. Discovery and the ESO, but they have nailed it for the first round. It's fair to say that the EWS and now the Enduro World Cup has always struggled with finding a format for its coverage and pairing this with a live timing system that often breaks, confidence among many was low heading into 2023. But the coverage from Nove Mesto was great with a full weekend of racing content to dig into from the free U23 racing and the paid-for Elite action. The biggest positive change we saw is what feels like an almost complete camera coverage of the course. When a rider would leave the frame you would then follow them into a new shot, whether that was with static cameras or even some amazingly piloted drones tracking riders through the trees. While XC has historically had better track coverage than DH this gives us plenty of hope that seeing an almost full top to bottom run could actually be realised.
The elite women leave the start line for their first XCO of the season.

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edspratt avatar

Member since Mar 16, 2017
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  • 103 2
 GCN+ worked very well for the coverage, thumbs up, but I can cough up a few nuggets for improvement:

- Rolling results, and some footage outside the top 5 would be good.
- I miss the enthusiasm and knowledge Rob brought, and also - for us non-native english speakers, it was actually easier to understand him than the new & somewhat thicker accent. All new, so yes, will probably improve.
- More tech insight: ask about actual tire selection, suspension settings etc directly to the riders.
  • 19 0
 "for us non-native english speakers, it was actually easier to understand him"
  • 19 0
 I absolutely agree about split results and lap results going much further down the field. and was it me, or did anyone else find the text to be very small for the rolling results? or maybe time to upgrade to that 4k tv, or come to the realisation that my eyes are 48 years old!
  • 10 0
 Yeah, was impressed by GCN+ too, but only in that I thought the coverage was every bit as good as the old Red Bull format.

One thing I thought was better was the drone footage - particularly through the Rock N Roll section was really good and other than the times when Garcia or Bart couldn't understand Norn Iron Ric, the commentary was impressive.

One area though where there needs to be some serious improvements was the interviews - the only one I wasn't cringing at was Josh's chat with Nino after short track. The others were brutal - like trying to get an inside scoop instead of asking the winners normal questions ... The women (who's names escape me sorry) seemed so devoid of any feeling or insight.
  • 5 1
 Agreed - the coverage (race and other general media) exceeded expectations and those are great improvement suggestions. I think Bart Brentjens is meant to bring the tech (equipment) and technical knowledge but has continued to just shout out rider names over his co-commentator.....
  • 7 1
 Really agree on the Rob point. With him part of the team it would be amazing. Sign me up
  • 19 10
 Why do almost every single English commener have to be British? Almost nobody outside the UK speaks while chewing a potato. It seems like producers (wrongly) think having a British-sounding voice brings prestige to the commentary. This spans to almost every single documental/sports/narrated feature.
  • 8 0
 Agreed, 10/10 for cinematography (the directly overhead drone shots were cool, the long drone shots through the trees where they started with one rider then sped ahead to find the next we’re VERY cool!)

It seemed like the commentary was a bit rough, with commentators talking over and interrupting each other frequently. Hopefully this improves as they get to know each others’ rhythms a bit better.

Big agree on better coverage and info on riders outside the top 5. However in hindsight I think some of the shots of non-leaders we were used to from Redbull was covering up the more limited course coverage they had. When leaders went into a section without cameras they had to jump to riders lower down in the rankings. Hopefully GCN+ finds a balance, or at least starts showing current top 40 times at key time checks.
  • 12 2
 Absolutely agree. Bart + Rob's chemistry is unmatched.

Felt like Bart & the new Irish commentator were talking over each other quite a lot. Also, felt like they were forcing in commentary from the track (Cedric). Which is not bad, but seemed a bit random.

I'm positive they will get better, but moral - I miss Rob.
  • 5 3
 One other thing that stood out for me....they did not need to overtly comment on Red bull sponsored athletes. The was the one negative of the Red Bull stream, commenting on an athlete who was not really impacting the race purely because they were sponsored by red bull
  • 4 0
 @emery033: yup, I agree, they were talking over each other a lot
  • 3 8
flag pbuser27288 (May 16, 2023 at 8:36) (Below Threshold)
 @emery033: Ekhm... Scottisch, not Irish ;-)
  • 7 0
 @pbuser27288: Ekhm.... no, Irish.
  • 2 1
 Agreed - really good coverage - filming was quality if a little lead only focused (although I feel Red Bull filmed more of the pack to get all their bull helmeted riders in shot).

Ric and Bart did a decent job but Ric lacked much insight and spent the last two laps repeating what Bart said which wore pretty thin.

Highlights show was pretty decent also if you didnt have time to watch the whole mens race.
  • 3 0
 -Agree on quality of camera work. Definitely cool to see some up close shots of the group's faces as they rode past. -Agree with the lack of chemistry between Bart and what's his face. I suspect this will either improve or they will get rid of Bart rather than school the new guy. The new guy rambled endlessly about nonsense much of the time. -The lady with the brown raincoat was terrible to listen to. I doubt she cares at all about riding. -One thing I really missed this year was the long pan shots of the moto riding next to the trees while the riders buzzed in and out. The sounds at Na Morave was a highlight for me with that loud moto drone and the crowds cheering. Seems like they turned that audio down in favor of the rambling above.
  • 3 0
 @nilswalk: Northern Irish Wink
  • 4 0
 +1 - I too found it hard to know what riders below the top 5 were doing until the very very very end.
  • 5 0
 I find that the "lower-ranked" GCN commentators are generally not good. I watch a lot of road racing in addition to XC and DH and I have noticed that the main commentators are great while the boots on the ground are just rubbish. In addition, the Irish commentator was just wrong about stuff, as if he doesn't really know the sport, aside from is numerous speaking mistakes. I'd like to hear from someone who is critical - like Evie's wheel change; what a disaster. As someone who used to do that as a living, I died a little inside watching that mechanic fumble-f*ck his way through a wheel swap of the race leader.
  • 1 1
 @southoftheborder: I prefer the british accent indeed, sir.
  • 2 1
 @HCnoodle: and I respect that sir! just not my cup of tea for sports events. British humor OTOH it's at the top of my list.
  • 1 0
 @Shep-Shep: the wheel change was difficult because of the new and improved Transmission.
  • 64 0
 Personally I would like to say thanks to @edspratt and Pinkbike for significantly increasing their XC coverage this year. Well done Ed and I hope you keep it up for the future rounds this season. Great job!
  • 4 0
 Thanks! It's great to hear you're enjoying the extra coverage. The plan is to definitely keep this up going forward and hopefully slightly expand our DH coverage too.
  • 25 0
 Wonder why no rolling results for other contestant low down in stream . Just follow top 3 camera and results ..
  • 14 0
 Agree, we were missing plenty of excellent riders , I had no glue how Jolanta Neff and others was doing during the race..
  • 1 0
 GCN comes from a road background.
  • 6 0
 Agree. Camera focus was exclusion the leaders and showed none of the other battles taking place.

Also, men’s short track replay opened with the women’s short track podiums. Thanks for the spoiler.
  • 16 0
 Glad the slow wheel change was mentioned. In all forms of motor racing pit stops are practiced for hours on end. Would not hurt for Trek mecs to work on wheel changes. Evie would have won had that not been bungled. Thought the GCN coverage was very good but agree more about top 20 or so would be better.
  • 4 0
 The Mech screwed it and the other guy who came to help seemed to doit as an after thought. I hope they both got a good shoeing after.
  • 10 0
 @paulskibum: Spend more time practicing wheel changes instead of coloring your hair purple.
  • 16 0
 These cyclocross people really know a thing or two about bike handling in tricky conditions. Well done to Puck Pieterse and Joshua Dubau, that was one hell of a debut.
  • 3 18
flag suspended-flesh FL (May 16, 2023 at 12:10) (Below Threshold)
 Roadies will never take over DH.
  • 4 0
 @suspended-flesh: tbf, with the money in road riding Vs the money in DH, + the risk of serious injury, there isn't much incentive for them to do so.

Nonetheless I think I'm probably not alone in that I would like to see what Pidcock could do on a DH run.
  • 8 0
 Bravo! I've been ready to be pissed for almost a year in anticipation of UCI screwing up the TV coverage. But......Well done. In the US I could not get or figure out Discovery so bought the GCN+ and watched it on my computer which is what I did with red bull. The annoucers and on track commentators were excellent. Bart, which surprised me he was there, was as good as Bart gets, but the (sorry, name?) other guy was excellent. Easy to understand, funny, worked well with Bart. Good Job.
  • 8 0
 As someone who prefers to spend their weekends riding bikes, than being stuck inside watching other people ride theirs, I liked that there was a decent highlights package available fairly soon after the races.
  • 2 0
 Me too and I used replay when I got back from my bike. Worked well. Its available at GCN+.
  • 8 0
 As a Roku user in the United States there is no way for me to watch elite level racing. Its not on discovery and the other options are not available. Its super irritating.
  • 2 0
 It says they are working on it and it shouldn't be difficult to port to Roku, so hopefully you'll be ok soon.
Worth checking if your TV can get it.
Another option might be mirroring from your android phone (if you have one).
  • 2 0
 They've been saying that since 2020. We plugged an HDMI into the laptop. Yolo
  • 1 0
 it is on GCN+
  • 1 0
 I have Roku, but just decided to spend $24 on an Amazon Fire TV 4K.
  • 1 0
 @fudgedredd: I might have to do that. Good thinking!
  • 3 0
 Even more frustrating that they have a freaking Samsung and Android TV app but no Roku, Xbox, or PlayStation app. I get that the streaming box/TV software ecosystem is a fragmented mess but Roku is common enough they really need it.
  • 1 0
 @succulentsausage: same issues with the wsl(surf tour). Gta mirror from device which blows
  • 1 0
 I dropped all my Rokus about year and a half ago when Roku was getting into all these "disagreements" with providers and removing them from their store. Roku was a decent intermediary but has been surpassed greatly by GoogleTV and AppleTV and they refuse to upgrade their hardware. Overall I switched all my TVs to googleTV and I have never been happier. No issues and no petty Roku streaming arguments anymore.
  • 7 1
 I agree that, visually, the race coverage was pretty good.

But everything else was a real disappointment. The commentating team were definitely not gelling - although they may improve with time/practice. Bart and Ric kept talking over one another or simply repeating what the other had just said. And Ric M sounds like someone doing a (bad) impression of a sports commentator - lots of daft and non-sensical cliches rather than simply providing insightful comment on the race.

But what was absolutely intolerable was the anchor - Kate Mason (?). Completely devoid of understanding or knowledge of the sport, talking vacuous pish which just underlined how false her enthusiasm was. When she was interviewing Bart at the end of the women's race he had an absolutely perfect 'WTF' expression at some of the things she was asking or saying. 'The race was so magnetic'.....what does that mean FFS......!??

There must be someone from within the sport that they can find to host the pre and post race stuff.
  • 3 1
 After one event , my ears have had their fill of Rics voice for the year. Agreed on the anchor too. Unbearable. Clueless. Way too hyped up over an event she doesn't even understand. Probably a great fit for some BS reality show with lots of bitching and drama.
  • 7 0
 Is being ranked 25 and having achieved 2 top 10 and several top 20 in XCO for 2022 season makes you "seemingly come from nowhere in the XC ranks"?
  • 4 1
 well, most of us only started hearing about him last year so...
  • 6 0
 It is not like he hadn't already beaten many of these guys already this season in smaller races. Problem is only world cups get a decent online coverage so most people don't seem to realize these guys are racing week after week and Dubeau had just won an elite race in Napoli a few weeks ago and had been second to Sam Gaze just 2 weeks ago.
  • 7 0
 Hopefully those Trek mechanics are doing tire-change drills all week! Poor Evie, she had that lead cinched!
  • 3 0
 was looking for this comment...speaking as an amateur mechanic, that wheel change was *agonizingly* slow and cost Evie at least a top 3
  • 4 0
 I have to take issue with this statement:

"To give credit where it is due there was a lot of worry about what the new World Cup series and its coverage would look like under Warner Bros. Discovery and the ESO, but they have nailed it for the first round"

Disco+ didn't work here in Colorado. We subscribed, and looked for like an hour trying to find the coverage. nope, no coverage on Disco+, not on the app on our TV, or phone, or their website.

So we ended up cancelling it, and then subscribing to GCN+, which sorta works because our TV has a browser built in, and sure I guess I could have cobbled together a laptop hooked to the TV. but I much prefer the Redbull app.

anyway, my main point is that everywhere one looked, prior to this weekend, all websites said that Disco+ had the rights to MTB broadcasts in the US, yet it's NOT on Disco+ (in the US)
  • 4 0
 From the comments i might be in the minority, but I can't stand Bart without Rob to reign him in. They're commenting basic stuff that any mountain biker would already know, and now you have a paying audience, we don't need to know that dropper posts have changed riding 20 times in one weekend.
  • 8 1
 Would be very cool to see van Aert v Pidcock v MVDP in XCC
  • 9 3
 and Peter Sagen next year
  • 4 0
A little late for Sagan possibly, unless he suddenly gets a miraculous performance improvement.
Currently a shadow of himself.
  • 2 0
 @Wyndbrook: Yeah. He is currently ranked 418 on pro (road) cycling stats. Pidcock is 11th. Sagen is retiring from road at the end of the year to focus on Paris 2024 Mtb .
  • 5 0
 GCN+ needs to be on Roku, and needs to have the women’s U23 race, other wise it seems to be working out so far. Hoping it continues to get better
  • 1 0
 I thought you could have paid subscription channels on YouTube, you'd have thought they would at least have done this with GCN+ (assuming that I am correct).
  • 2 0
 As a Roku user I hope they sort it before the DH starts, I will consider at least trying a subscription.
  • 3 1
 Don't have a single hdmi cable in your home?
  • 4 0
 U23 races are streamed live on YouTube for free.
  • 3 0
 Any viewing figures released for the elite races?

Would be interested in a comparison to last years figures.

Sad thing is because you have to subscribe this year the powers that be won’t care if the figures are down as it’s making them money..
  • 2 0
 Just my opinion here - I always like Bart but he is best in 2nd chair. To me it felt like he believes he now holds seniority and was pushing as primary commentator. This led to the overlapping. On Red Bull, Rob led and Bart backed up his questions and comments. Ric doesn’t have a big enough personality to command the box. Discovery needed someone who owns that commentary box and the TV screen. Did I miss something or did we never see them on camera either?
I really missed rolling lap times from top 10/top 15. Where were Kate/Jenny/Yolanda for instance - well it turns out they were hovering near top 10 but nobody had any idea.

Discovery launches the new MAX app combined with HBO in a week. I assume my HBO max app will become this (which is also on Roku unlike GCN) and then I’d want to see a much more polished presentation. Strike that - Discovery MUST deliver a more polished, more thorough, more slick presentation because now I’m paying for both MAX and GCN+.
  • 1 0
 Its my understanding the 'coverage' from this event only, is state ran, provided by the local govt broadcasting and formerly RB picked it up as did Discovery. So, lets wait and see the coverage etc, camera locations, number of cameras, etc
  • 1 0
 Since it was behind a paywall, I just waited for the pinkbike report. Just curious to see how sponsors and manufacturers react at the end of the season when they see the viewing figures. Paywall numbers rarely ever beat free to watch numbers.
  • 5 0
 It's on the same platform as road and CX.....I doubt it will be a problem.
  • 2 0
 @Starch-Anton: agreed. free is cool, but it's been cool to watch the Giro (& eventually cx) on the same platform
  • 1 0
 Subbed Discovery+ months ago only for mtb & checked for any promo/uci/wc coverage a few times to no avail. Still somehow missed the coverage/race all together?! Did anyone in the U.S. watch on discovery?
  • 2 0
 My understanding is that it is only on GCN+ (owned by Eurosport/Discovery) in the US.
  • 1 0
 @beeeefkirky: You are correct. All USA coverage is through the GCN+ app. I luckily already have a subscription for watching road and cyclocross but was worried back when the Discovery announcement came that I would have to buy another package for MTB. So, no extra cash out of my pocket.
  • 2 0
 I had Disco+ already in our house for cooking shows so was excited to not need another sub for racing after all the ads about being able to watch on Disco+. Spent a solid hour looking on multiple platforms of their app (phone, smart tv, etc) and couldn’t find anything. Had to learn through a helpful commenter too . The false advertising about disco+ being an option needs to stop.
  • 1 0
 @GPP2117: Me too. I have a Discovery+ paid subscription.

Where are the instructions to watch? I'm in Canada.
  • 2 0
 @gdharries: sorry I was unclear. Someone told me there isn’t live coverage on Disco+ (at least in US), so I ended up getting GCN+.
  • 1 0
 @GPP2117: Oh, I see. Thanks!
  • 1 0
 @GPP2117 exactly... I expected some Disco option based on relatively recent coverage but obviously didn't read enough. Off to gcn... thx
  • 1 0
 Evie would have potentially won if her mechanic had actually put the bike in the right gear before handing it to her. She definitely spent more than 16 seconds trying to get it working.
  • 1 0
 The most positive thing was that I could watch the race on Eurosport. Because I already had it. Let's hope that the DH races will also be of the same quality there
  • 1 0
 Referring to riders by their full names each time they’re mentioned. Is that to get search clicks? Sounds like it was written by AI, even if it wasn’t. Not into it PB.
  • 3 2
 let's hope discovery can improve the streeming on the tv app. Now it seems to be back at 56k time, with buffering.
  • 4 4
 Where are all the people that said it was going to be crap coverage? Who just made up random shit to score internet points with their faux outrage?
  • 2 0
 To be fair, Eurosport coverage in the past has been pretty terrible - for instance the ITV/C4 highlights of the Tour de France have always been a million times more interesting than Eurosport.

We'll have to see how they get on with DH before making a final judgement, though.
  • 4 3
 This was definitely a step down (in the US) from RedBull, for reasons mentioned in the top post in comment section. In time this can get very good if they follow fan feedback.
  • 2 0
 What we (re)learned. Time on drop bars makes you faster.
  • 2 0
 I definitely need more time to not thinking of Rob 's voice,.
  • 2 0
 I love my Race Kings too.
  • 1 1
 Evie needs a couple more psi in her tyres, looking at the slo mo on gmbn she shouldn't be rim dinging on a pretty tame rock garden.
  • 2 0
 I would pay for redbull TV coverage and Rob on lead.
  • 1 0
 I missed Rob W's enthusiasm. He made it feel like you were there. Really pumped it up.
  • 1 1
 Guess I'm a dinosaur, I like Red Bull coverage and Rob W was great. Didn't have to subscribe for another streaming fee.
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