Photo Epic: Turning Tides - Val di Sole World Cup XC 2019

Aug 4, 2019
by Matthew DeLorme  


Photo Epic presented by Topeak


The rains held off in Val di Sole for XC today, which made for fast-paced, hot as heck, action-packed racing. Just past midseason, things heated up in both the men's and women's race with stunning performances by Mathieu van der Poel, Mathias Flueckiger, Pauline Ferrand Prevot, Jolanda Neff, and Jenny Rissveds.

The women's race was another for the history books as Jolanda Neff and Pauline Ferrand Prevot exchanged time at the front over and over again, with Neff slipping back by over 30 seconds at one point only to reel in PFP and pass her on the final lap, then get passed again and have to sprint for the finish. Pauline would grab the win in the final meters.

For the men, Mathieu van der Poel, Mathias Flueckiger, and Nino Schurter fought hard until the final lap when Mathieu van der Poel decided he had had enough hanging around and had to go. Mathias Flueckiger took a well earned second, and Nino would take third. Most importantly, both Neff and MVDP secured the overall lead today. Next stop, Lenzerheide, before we head to the North American continent for World Champs and the final round.

Preparation is everything. Everything in its place for Evie Richards.
Preparation is everything. Everything in its place for Evie Richards.

Ronja Eibl race ready at 8 27am.
Ronja Eibl race-ready at 8:27am.

Evie Richards got out front early and stayed there for most of the race.
Evie Richards got out front early and stayed there for most of the race.

Laura Stigger took third today in U23 women.
Laura Stigger took third today in U23 women.

Evie Richards led the race for three laps until Eibl made her move.
Evie Richards led the race for three laps until Eibl made her move.

Ronja Eibl takes yet another win after making her move on the final lap.
Ronja Eibl takes yet another win after making her move on the final lap.

Being on the red line for an hour and 10 minutes will take it out of you.
Being on the red line for an hour and 10 minutes will take it out of you.

Ronja Ebil Evie Richards and Laura Stigger enjoy the champagne after a hard fought battle.
Ronja Ebil, Evie Richards, and Laura Stigger enjoy the champagne after a hard fought battle.

Doggy on the O of Sole.
Doggy on the O of Sole.

Jolanda Neff warms up for a hard day of racing.
Jolanda Neff warms up for a hard day of racing.

Kate Courtney gets ready for 5 laps in the heat of Val di Sole.
Kate Courtney gets ready for 5 laps in the heat of Val di Sole.

Yana Belamoina was another rider who had to work her way up through the field today. Belamoina took fourth.
Yana Belamoina was another rider who had to work her way up through the field today. Belamoina took fourth.

Jenny Rissveds showed that the champion is still there today. She took third.
Jenny Rissveds showed that the champion is still there today. She took third.

Anne Tauber picked her way through the field to finish fifth.
Anne Tauber picked her way through the field to finish fifth.

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.
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.

Pauline Ferrand Prevot has what it took today. She played her cards just right and it was damn exciting to watch.
Pauline Ferrand Prevot has what it took today. She played her cards just right and it was damn exciting to watch.

Sina Frei had a great short track but she struggled today in the big event.
Sina Frei had a great short track, but she struggled today in the big event.

Pauline Ferrand Prevot had an incredible ride and took a well deserved win.
Pauline Ferrand Prevot had an incredible ride, and took a well deserved win.

An understandably emotional Jenny Rissveds takes another podium. She is certainly the comeback story of the year.
An understandably emotional Jenny Rissveds takes another podium. She is certainly the comeback story of the year.

The results of leaving it all out on course.
The results of leaving it all out on course.

Pauline Ferrand Prevot Jolanda Neff Jenny Rissveds Jana Belamoina and Anne Tauber- top five women of the day.
Pauline Ferrand Prevot, Jolanda Neff, Jenny Rissveds, Jana Belamoina, and Anne Tauber- top five women of the day.

Vlad Dascalu has been crushing it this year as is looking to continue collecting valuable points today.
Vlad Dascalu has been crushing it this year as is looking to continue collecting valuable points today.

Dascalu traded places for the lead throughout the race to keep him at bar. He defended hard on a final sprint to secure the win.
Dascalu traded places for the lead throughout the race to keep him at bar. He defended hard on a final sprint to secure the win.

Filipo Colombo battled it out within the top five until he broke free to secure second.
Filipo Colombo battled it out within the top five until he broke free to secure second.

Vlad Dascalu Filipo Colombo and Jofre Cullell Estape close out the U23 Men s podium.
Vlad Dascalu, Filipo Colombo, and Jofre Cullell Estape close out the U23 Men's podium.

Dascalu gassed after his sprint finish with Colombo.
Dascalu gassed after his sprint finish with Colombo.

Good day on course for Christopher Blevins who s been chasing a solid result. He d finish just off the podium.
Good day on course for Christopher Blevins who's been chasing a solid result. He'd finish just off the podium.

Jofre Cullell Estape matched his number plate today for third.
Jofre Cullell Estape matched his number plate today for third.

Friday night s XCC winner Mathieu Van Der Poel kept it cool during warm ups.
Friday night's XCC winner, Mathieu Van Der Poel kept it cool during warm ups.

Nino Schurter focusing in on the task at hand. This course will make you suffer.
Nino Schurter focusing in on the task at hand. This course will make you suffer.

Flueckiger was ahead of the pack briefly.
Flueckiger was ahead of the pack briefly.

Strong ride for Milan Vader finishing in sixth.
Strong ride for Milan Vader finishing in sixth.

Henrique Avancini was feeling the heat today. He spent most of the race in the chase group keeping a relentless pace.
Henrique Avancini was feeling the heat today. He spent most of the race in the chase group keeping a relentless pace.

Flueckiger taking a quick peak over his shoulder as Schurter and Van Der Poel close in on him.
Flueckiger taking a quick peek over his shoulder as Schurter and Van Der Poel close in on him.

The second of two Braidot brothers Daniele made a top ten appearance as well.
The second of two Braidot brothers, Daniele, made a top ten appearance as well.

Fifth place for Luca Braidot. Hell of a day for the Italian on home soil.
Fifth place for Luca Braidot. Hell of a day for the Italian on home soil.

Nino Schurter stayed with the pack and even tried an attack at the very end. He just didn t have the legs to bag it up.
Nino Schurter stayed with the pack and even tried an attack at the very end. He just didn't have the legs to bag it up.

Mathias Flueckiger played in the top five spots. He would later be part of the lead out group in the second half of the race along with Nino and Van Der Poel.
Mathias Flueckiger played in the top five spots. He would later be part of the lead out group in the second half of the race along with Nino and Van Der Poel.

What a race for Braidot.
What a race for Braidot.

Fleuckiger left it all on track.
Fleuckiger left it all on track.

Mathieu Van Der Poel pulled away hard after Nino tried to make him bite. A commanding victory for the European Champ.
Mathieu Van Der Poel pulled away hard after Nino tried to make him bite. A commanding victory for the European Champ.

Elite Men s podium. Mathieu Van Der Poel Mathias Flueckiger Nino Schurter Henrique Avancini and Lucas Braidot.
Elite Men's podium. Mathieu Van Der Poel, Mathias Flueckiger, Nino Schurter, Henrique Avancini, and Lucas Braidot.

A bit of champagne to cool off is always nice.
A bit of champagne to cool off is always nice.

It was no easy task out in the valley of the sun.
It was no easy task out in the valley of the sun.



56 Comments

  • + 56
 I think we need a character piece on MVDP. Right now I have a hard time cheering for him because he seems like this emotionless terminator sent back to assassinate Nino so his children won't lead the resistance against the robot armies of the future.
  • + 10
 I'm convinced one of his Mathieu's family members is in debt to the casino bookmaker, but he can't tell the police, so now Mathieu is forced to race for them to repay the debt in this high stakes thriller...coming to theaters everywhere this summer.
  • + 4
 I'm certain that MVDP rides so fast because he has a bomb attached to his bike, as as soon as he goes any slower than 30mph, it will detonate.
  • + 3
 cyclingtips.com/2017/11/mathieu-van-der-poel-is-most-talented-bike-racer-on-planet

Cyclingtips did one last year, or earlier this year I cant remember. Good piece
  • + 2
 Follow him on Instagram if you haven't already- dude knows how to have fun for sure. There are videos of him hitting some pretty sizable slopestyle gaps on an XC bike with the seat up.
  • + 10
 I have a hard time cheering too, because I am in constant awe of the power output... And the MTB skills of a guy also capable of winning world tour races on the road. If I am not mistaken, at the bottom of the first descent there was a drop that you could turn into a double by jumping something like 3 meters into a transition with a turn straight after. Cool stuff.

That could become something working against him throughout his career, as we all like to cheer for the underdog. For me, I can only applaud someone who followed his heart to race MTB, while the whole world wants him on the road ánd willing to pay big money for that. He simply does what he likes. Don't know him personally, but I speak his language and from local footage it seems he truly is a nice guy.
  • + 2
 haha....Kind of thought the same thing during his post-race interview yesterday. But then I also thought some of this might be due to English not being his first language. Sometimes just making sure you are speaking correctly, rather than passionately, becomes the priority (even if it's an unconscious decision) when not speaking your native tongue. I'm speaking from experience here now that I am an American living in Denmark....whenever I attempt to speak my very poor Danish..the last thing on my mind is appearing witty or likeable...I'm just trying to get the words out correctly! haha
  • + 0
 This might be the best post in the history of pink bike.
  • + 3
 @RR1: I told my family, "Imagine being Dutch and interviewed in English from a guy with a thick Scottish accent after you just finished a race." Not fair. It is like when they interview swimmers immediately out of the water and they can only say one word per breath. "I... felt... good... but... etc."
  • + 1
 @GeeHad: what do you do? what do you do!?
  • + 2
 @RR1: his post race interview blew my mind! He wasn't sure if he could drop Nino / Matthias and thought it might go to a sprint finish... then he just explodes for a >10 sec lead in a single climb. Just wow.
  • + 1
 @vapidoscar: Ric McLaughlin is Northern Irish, not Scottish.
  • + 2
 @billreilly: Did not know but doesn't really change my point. My point is the challenge of communicating out of your native language. @RR1 made the point that you are just trying to get the right words and we are missing any nuance. And native English speakers are calling him an emotionless robot.

But to your point, I've lived across a lake from Canada 90% of my life. You'd be awfully sore-y if you thought I was aboot to let you call me Canadian. I just can't listen to that much Tragically Hip.
  • + 24
 Stunning photos, as per usual. Sadly, it seems most modern MTBrs are more interested in equipment than top level competition. There's normally more comments on a random fork article. This seems crazy to me. The women's race was incredible. It's MTB racing, it's free to air, and it's freaking competitive. I guess it's the anti XC narrative that keeps getting banded around. When I began riding it was just called MTB riding. How we've ended up calling a ride or trail 'XC" because it has 1 foot of elevation gain is beyond me. I genuinely wonder, what is actual definition of Mountain Biking? Apart from just riding on a MTB. Obviously, riding in a supermarket is not mountain biking...so what is?
  • + 3
 Have fun on a bicycle offroad would do it for me! Smile
Like the french VTT is more accurate than MTB in my eyes.
  • + 3
 I think it's largely from waves of new riders who've come into the sport the last couple decades and try to associate differently...mountain biking is no longer a small group of extreme sports junkies, but a popular hobby with social cliques. Chances are most people who started riding in the 80's or 90's probably would have called themselves an "XC" rider at one point or another, unless they raced DH/DS/4X. Most old school riders from this era have a ton of respect for XC. But it's easy to see how new riders got intimidated by lycra clad XC riders and naturally gravitated to laid back gravity focused riders who'd rather have a post ride beer than post ride recovery shake; by this time new riders have chosen their 'inner circle' and made up their mind. I also believe decades ago people discovered 'mountain biking' by stumbling upon XC racing, which was the pathway into mountain biking for many people. Today people discover mountain biking by seeing it on social media and skip everything XC. Irregardless of XC racing itself, XC style riding has just faded out and the sport has just evolved...people don't want to go pedaling their ass off in the remote forest for hours in search of ultimate natural singletrack, they'd rather hit the bike park or go ride with group of friends at popular man-made trails, or trail where they know it's one big climb for miles of rewarding downhill. It's inevitable the old days are slowly moving behind us, for better or worse.
  • + 13
 @Jamminator: "people don't want to go pedaling their ass off in the remote forest for hours in search of ultimate natural singletrack," ---- Raising my hand here as ^this is primarily what MTB-ing is for me, but realize that I am probably a dying breed (age 44 here).
  • + 0
 @Jamminator: I'm also 44 and MTB is the same for me as it was 15 years ago. Riding a mountain bike on dirt (or Ray's). Whether it be singletrack, bike park, dirt jumps, remote, etc.

I'm not anti-XC but the discipline doesn't appeal to me. Neither does long distance running or any type of endurance racing. I am 5'8, 200lbs and built like a Ram-Man from the old He-Man cartoons (put it in your googler). Genetics has determined that I can't really be competitive in endurance sports because I'm a stocky, powerful person. Thus, it doesn't interest me. I don't have commonality with these racers. I have the utmost respect for the sport and the riders but very little interest. I do 20-40 mile epic rides a few times a month and enjoy the hell out of them but you'll never see my name in the top 80% of the climb segments.

On top of this, The use of PEDs in professional sports has completely soured all events for me.Especially after seeing what it does to the people that have subjected themselves to these drugs/methods in their later years. Endurance sports are perhaps the worst offenders...
  • + 4
 @RR1: Me too! All I want to do when I go out riding is to go pedaling my ass off in the remote forest for hours in search of ultimate natural singletrack
  • + 1
 Good point; maybe XC still has some kind of image problem. Here in the UK, the other year I bought one of the monthly MTB magazines ( I can't remember which one) - and they stated they don't really bother with the XC side of the sport.
Why?? Its the Olympic MTB discipline. I very rarely buy that mag anymore.
Is it because it's like too much hard work? Having to climb under your own power rather using a lift and then descending downhill?
  • + 3
 @Starch-Anton: I think it's seen as less relatable to the average rider / consumer. Lycra, ultralight setups, energy gels, mass starts/crashes, overtaking, etc aren't exactly elements of a normal dudebro's trail ride (vs DH and enduro, which basically emulate the overall bike park / weekend ride experience in a competitive setting). If you look at who advertises in MTB media, and the kind of bikes/components that are selling in real volume and getting people into the sport, it's not the featherweight, unforgiving, 100mm bikes. XC is probably unpopular for all the same reasons enduro has blown up in recent years.

It's a bummer though, I love following XC and I've raced a few races (in my baggies, on a trail bike) and had an absolute blast. I don't think most people realize just how sketchy it feels to run those techy sections when you're absolutely redlined, or to change your line on the fly as riders crash in front of you, or to try and overtake before/during a descent. Yes there are tons of "dirt roadies" in the lower categories, who complain about tech features and get mowed down in the rock gardens, but they're not winning races on modern courses, and the upper categories are full of really sick bike handlers.

@mtbgeartech the PED's issue is def something I wonder about in the XC field. AFAIK there hasn't been a big doping scandal in mtb since the 90s when all those road riders came over to race mtb.... who knows if that's because mtb is cleaner, or if the UCI just doesn't care about us, but if we're seeing questions pop up in pro enduro then I'm sure it exists in pro XCO. Still, I don't think doping is something that would keep me out of a local race.
  • + 1
 @bkm303: XC racing is bigger than enduro racing last time I checked, and XC riders ride a lot more than enduro bros typically so I wouldn't say they buy less bikes/parts either.
  • + 2
 @bkm303: Two XCM women recently tested positive for EPO and blood transfusion. The sport was dirty into the 00's. Many top guys ended up getting caught or getting entangled into the web... Ryder Hesjedal, Seamus McGrath, Chris Sheppard, Bas van Dooren, Blaza Klemencicetc, Max Knox, and Christina Forstner (biggest recent names). Let's not forget XCO World Champ Filipe Meirhaeghe who dominated for a couple years used EPO...and somehow ended up coaching a Belgian youth squad.

Whether or not XCO still has doping issues or not, I doubt it has much effect on people's perspective beyond another talking point. Just look at the EWS: It was the wild west before UCI/WADA got involved, and now the vast majority of gravity fans are panty-waded over the Rude and Graves dilemma.
  • + 1
 @clink83: true enough, but on a typical ride in my area *maybe* 1 in 10 is an actual XC bike, the vast majority are in the trail/enduro category. Mfrs know what kind of bikes most people are buying, which drives ads/coverage/reviews of new bikes, which drives more sales. It's probably a lot harder to get new people on bikes by pushing XC bikes and the racing/training lifestyle, vs more forgiving trail bikes. Same as the recent gravel boom in the road world. I don't even think my shop has a single Racey Anthem/Top Fuel out on the floor, but there are plenty of Trances and Remedies.
  • + 1
 @Jamminator: good info, thanks. Looks like I have some googling to do!
  • + 1
 @bkm303: the majority of mountain bikes sold by volume are hardtails by a huge margin...
  • + 1
 @clink83: entry-level hardtail != XC race bike. Sure you can ride it in an XC race, but you could ride a 150mm bike too.

But ok, you win - let's assume everyone actually does love XC bikes, and that XC racing is massively popular... back to the original question, why does some random fork press release get more interest than one of the best elite-level races of the year, and why is PB basically the only mtb media outlet that even mentioned it? If XC dudes are buying all the new gear/parts like you say, where are the XC-oriented product ads/reviews (other than today's Epic press release)?
  • + 9
 Both races were totally incredible this weekend and the course was pretty brutal on the ups and downs.
it has been a theme in the whole series, u23, mens and women’s all are totally competitive, races are close and multiple winners across the series.
It’s been a great to follow and whilst I love the downhill and enduro series, watching the mm go head to head all together in the xc is incredibly engaging from a viewing perspective, not to mention you get to see the whole course and not just a few bits of it.
Cracking stuff
  • + 10
 Sorry but PFP is the comeback of the year... From potentially career ending surgery to the top step of the podium. Not saying what Jenny has done isn't incredible.
  • + 5
 Wait for Jenny's win at the World Champ.
  • + 11
 Jenny rules.
  • + 2
 I love her!
  • + 8
 Both races were amazing. Especial the women's.
  • + 6
 “MVDP secured the overall lead today” is incorrect as Schurter continues to lead by 116 points.
  • + 4
 Amazing coverage of some amazing racing on both the men's and women's side. Been such a great season to follow on all accounts. Thanks for this PB!
  • + 1
 It's something amazing to be able to drop Nino Schurter, it is double amazing to drop the person dropping Nino. Watching Flückiger ride away from Nino, while MVDP road away from him was unreal.
  • + 4
 Jolanda came back from 50 seconds back! Not just 30!!!
  • + 4
 XC is turning into a real battle on men's and women's.
  • + 1
 Finally a race where Nino’s «wheel suck for almost the entire race and then attack on the last lap» didn’t work out. Still hoping for better tactical racing from Avancini and Flueckiger.
  • + 3
 Look at this women podium! All this ladies could be models! We are so lucky mtbikers...
  • + 2
 Who's the gorgeous gal with the lazer helmet and nose ring?
  • + 3
 It is Braidot Twins.
  • + 2
 What's the significance of Jenny Rissveds' #31 shirt?
  • + 18
 Program 31 is an initiative to promote children’s right according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child in general, and its 31st article in particular.

Program 31 shall inspire children to:
• Activate themselves and to engage in spontaneous play
• Be a good friend and to treat their peers as they want to be
treated themselves
• Stay away from tobacco, alcohol and drugs
• Use their curiosity and to try new activities, physical, cultural or educational
• Take advantage of the opportunity to study and to get an education
• Appreciate differences and diversity in sports, games, school and the social life
• Demand from the adult society and the world that children shall have the right to remain children and that the Convention of the right of the child shall be respected

A Program 31 activity, like the activities under Team 31, has the purpose of promoting the 31st article of the Convention on the right of the child and to lower the thresholds for children to activate themselves by:
• always being free of charge for participating children
• allowing for all children shall be able to participate, without any regards to previous
knowledge, gender, financial means etc.
• being relevant and appropriate for children (age/length restrictions may apply)
• having an adult with appropriate knowledge and education supervising the activities
• being free from competition and collaboration is encouraged
• having activities that are free from commercial trademarks and/or messages
  • + 1
 @casey79: thats aspirational, thanks for the explanation
  • + 2
 @casey79: Thanks. So good to see her back and doing such great things in so many ways
  • + 1
 Article 31 of United Nations on the Rights of the Child.
  • + 1
 My bad...page was loaded for a while when I commented and didn't realize there were already replies.
  • + 1
 The O in Sol looks like it's had a big night
  • + 1
 why no comments on the XC photo epic section??
  • + 0
 Why is almost everyone using road helmets??
  • + 2
 same reason no one uses gloves or elbow pads in DH - fashion
  • + 6
 @Otago: Nope. They're lighter and less prone to overheating.
  • + 1
 Most probably because they usually don't have to deal with high light / low light changes at warp speed like in DH or Enduro. Also the race courses are cleared of branches.

In their case, the lighter is the better.
  • + 6
 Lighter, more ventilation and more aerodynamic
  • - 4
flag mtbgeartech (Aug 5, 2019 at 7:10) (Below Threshold)
 Because they are basically roadies that care about roadie things? ;-)

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