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Video: The New Crans-Montana XC World Cup Course Is A Piece of Art - A Very Technical One

Jun 19, 2024
by Sarah Moore  

A first look at the track at the brand new venue of Crans-Montana, Switzerland. We've never seen anything like it and look forward to watching racers tackle it this weekend.

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Member since Mar 30, 2011
1,464 articles

  • 88 2
 XC racing is so good now. The tracks are fun to watch and there is so much talent on course.
  • 20 1
 @agnostic Agreed, XC has gotten really fun to watch. Then they had the short course last week, which was a total bummer, old-school course across a grass field. At least the XCO looked decently tech, even if they barely showed those sections in the race coverage.
  • 12 1
 @motts: 100% agree. That grass field course was such a let down. This course looks like a blast.
  • 36 1
 If this is an XC course, I don't think anyone needs a'' Trail " bike anymore.
  • 19 0
 Can't wait for the rain, LOL.
  • 5 0

SIDs and 34 SCs as far as the eye can see tho.
  • 11 0
 @agnostic: I agree, kinda lame to watch xcc on a featureless course on a screen. In person is a different story. That "grass field" is crazy at the speeds they are going though, 20.5 mph average on the last lap. When I rode the snowshoe xcc course I couldn't believe how tricky it was. Off camber grass sweeper with zero support, crossing a gravel service road mid-corner.
  • 23 0
 @AccidentalDishing: racing on grass is called Cyclocross
  • 5 0
 @agnostic: haha almost every CX course is more technical than that Val Di Sole short track. That being said I sort of enjoyed it, although I'm biased as I've done some road racing. It was like a dirt crit, in a fun way. There was even that guy taking a flyer five minutes in.
  • 2 0
 @ShredDoggg: The wood and rocks are gunna be deadly in the rain! Plus that berm rock gap... woof. You can already see all the chainring and pedal marks from folks not clearing it.
  • 2 0
 @ShredDoggg: You´re Evil Mr. Shred
  • 1 0
 @animanzur: bleed black ride evil.
  • 70 24
 Any one that crashes on the rock drop landing, will be permanently disfigured. When are the alligator moats going to be added? Anyone a fan of Death Race 2000?
  • 14 4
 Agreed, someone is going to get seriously injured on that rock drop. But sweet Wood drops onto the wood stump landing is so cool.
  • 27 28
 those rocks sticking out of the ground are just asking for an injury. XC is turning into a circus.
  • 63 6
 Ideally, a course should increase the technical challenge with as little as possible increase in danger. This course does a great job of bringing technical challenge and offering B and C lines, but some of those A - and even B - lines may have disproportionate danger. The drops may be only a metre or two, but landing amongst jagged boulders with gaps between them may be introducing as much risk as a drop multiple times as large. Or a drop into a tight turn made of vertical logs, with horizontal logs perpendicular to the trail - yikes! There are sections of WC DH tracks that some racers opt out of that appear to have lesser consequences. By contrast, the off-camber sections and rocky chutes into vicious catch-berms appear to be good examples of elevated challenge without disproportionate danger. I'm all for rewarding both skill and fitness, as long as the safety of riders is respected.
  • 29 4
 We have some tracks built in my area with similar features - rock drops with small boulders concreted in to line the trail. They've been an endless source of injuries and ruined bikes. Totally unnecessary, not fun to ride, and expensive to build. The only advantage is a dramatic reduction in trail maintenance... which is not a worthy ROI in my opinion.
  • 11 2
 The design has a kind of Splash Mountain flavor to it. Don't miss the kiosk at the bottom to pick up a photo of the face you're making on the way down, only 2500¥
  • 7 1
 Looks pretty sketch, for sure. I didn't like the look of that! Maybe it's better in person? The drop itself when executed SUCCESSFULLY looks pretty tame, but when something goes wrong...
  • 20 0
 XC hardline my friend, and it's no joke.
  • 6 3
 @danstonQ: Nice trqck, but: it is missing a ginormous river gap with loads of scaffolding. If it had one, they could take it out short notice before the start…
  • 7 1
 steady on lads, your not WC level XC racers and you havent seen any previews or rider feedback after riding the course. The PB experts trying to get things shut down again!!!!
  • 7 0
 This is a gneiss course that rocks! Can't take anything for granite on those drops but I see no fault.
  • 10 6
 The PB gapers are out in force and they're now claiming XC is too dangerous, hahahaha. Yeah guys, who puts rocks on a World Cup MTB course?! Come on, what is this? Rocks don't belong in the mountains!!! Its far too dangerous for the best riders in the world! Hahaha, wow.
  • 3 1
 @betsie: I saw one clip, it was f'n carnage
  • 3 0
 @ajayflex: There are 2 clips of 2 people crashing now.
XC is getting exciting, not just about red lining a climb.
  • 4 3
 @betsie: Yeah because people like to post crashes, not the 99.5% of the riders who clean it. What's next? Are you going to complain that the descents in road racing are too steep and fast? LOL good god you guys are absurd
  • 5 0
 @scott-townes: I am not complaining! What are you on about?
  • 3 0
 Video: Cannondale Factory Racing's Charlie Aldridge, Alan Hatherly & Simon Andreassen Ride the New Crans Montana Course

Aldridge's skills make it look less sketchy, but maybe it's not as bad as it initially looked. Importantly, the sketchiest A-lines appear to offer only a modest advantage, reducing the incentive for riders to take risks that may be unsafe for them. Still, I worry about the unnecessary risk of a crashing rider catching a finger between those vertical logs.
  • 1 0
 @ajayflex: You Yangs??
  • 38 0
 I’m putting the local orthopedic surgeon on my fantasy team.

That jagged rock landing is just dangerous.
  • 40 6
 The biggest injury is gonna be pinkbike commenters hurting their wrists from all the hand wringing.
  • 33 0
 I wonder how all that wood will be in the rain which is forecast for the weekend.
  • 5 0
 Wet wood wonderland!
  • 1 0
 exactly this
  • 6 5
 Betting some of those sections are taken out. Team managers have sway.
  • 8 2
 They can portage if needed. This is good for the sport.
  • 4 1
 @suspended-flesh: Having everyone running on TV is good for the sport?
  • 3 0
 @CantClimb: Let's reserve judgement until the race happens. I do suspect they are currently at the the lumber yard buying materials to tone things down, sadly.
  • 1 0
 @suspended-flesh: it's going to be interesting whatever happens.
  • 34 4
 Could do with less artificial stuff in there. I like it super technical,but natural.
  • 27 0
 It's time I admitted to myself that I have no idea what XC racing actually is.
  • 16 0
 Well, these days you have to be able to ride that course and have 6w/kg ftp, it seems.
  • 24 0
 Some of those sections are no joke. In the wet, with xc tires? At max heart rate? I wish them luck. On an trail bike, I can see it, but this is definitely pushing the envelope.
  • 9 0
 This is a Bentonville triple black dh course.
  • 23 4
 I think this is too hazardous for wet conditions. I don't want to see anyone break their neck on ultra-slick logs with no B-line runouts. Cool in the dry? Sure. But it looks like it might not be dry.
  • 14 8
 Stop. The XCO discipline has been relatively boring for decades and is just starting to get good. The youth coming up these days can ride 'features'. Let them. I'm definitely watching. XC! XC! who would've thought?
  • 2 1
 @suspended-flesh: still disappointed the river gap got taken out?
  • 1 0
 @Muckal: At Hardline? Yes. We'll see it next year. It's 'Hard'.
  • 1 1
 @suspended-flesh: hard as in 'unnecessarily dangerous', true! But I am sure it will be made safer by then, sorry.
  • 21 1
 Dang - that looks fun, but scary on an XC bike!
  • 49 21
 Pointlessly scary. The vertical rocks are ridiculous. I'm all about rowdy courses but that's just dumb.
  • 5 0
 100%, looks fun.

But scary on an XC bike... especially XC tires.

Excited to see how they all handle it. This is very much "not just a fitness/climbing speed" sort of track.
  • 46 11
 @BuntyHoven1: ...this is our manor and we do DH and XC here. You are absolutely right. its ridiculous. It's dumb. Exactly that.

That local rock is slick in the wet with zero traction. We know it well. The moment I saw the long lines of standing stones - following a significant drop, ffs - I considered it COMPLETELY unacceptable. A single mistake from an exhausted back marker and serious injury could end someone's season. There's a reason why some trees have padding in DH - hitting them is just too consequential.

Steeps - brilliant
Drops - great
Techy singletrack - super

Deliberate death traps - no
Cathro - can you give it a review?

Riders should be more involvd in course construction. Bloody menhirs. Leave them for Asterix, Obelix and Gettafix. Just mad.
  • 12 14
 @BuntyHoven1: These are pros riding, they’ll do just fine.
  • 6 0
 @ocnlogan: Well, most of them are using inserts, so...all good.
  • 10 0
 @eastonwest: Yeah it’s not like we’ve seen a number of face plants and concussions lately is it?
  • 10 3
 @BuntyHoven1: I hear what you’re saying but I raced XC in B.C. for quite a few years. Our courses were like this when our forks had no travel and brakes were rubber bits squeezing the rims. I like that courses are tough because the tech should trickle down to bikes we like to ride. This is also why I think there should be a return to riders having to do their own repairs. It would hopefully lead to more robust XC equipment.
  • 1 0

I was mostly thinking about grip when I said it.

You're right, the chance of punctures seems higher than average. But as we saw in the bike check, most of them are running inserts, which will help.
  • 11 0
 @BuntyHoven1: a good reminder of that is what happened to Nico (US 17-18 national champ) when he went face first into a rock garden at the Haiming, Austria race -- www.gofundme.com/f/help-nico-get-his-smile-back-after-a-devastating-crash

Those dividing rocks are really dangerous and the wood in the wet could be a nightmare.
  • 28 2
 @Supermoo: Brutal.

I can’t believe people are defending those rocks. Imagine lining any trail you ride with half-buried tombstone rocks. I can’t think of many natural sections of trail that I’ve ridden with snaggle-tooth rocks sticking out of the ground like that. To build something like that is just moronic.
  • 7 8
 @BuntyHoven1: All riding/racing the track will have the opportunity to choose parts/components that best suit the track and conditions. these bikes are more than capable, and the riders even more so again. They have the chance to test, preview, track walk, judge conditions, line choice, etc, and make decisions from there. They can choose to go easier, go harder, run bigger tires, slightly more sag for traction.

Having different tracks, with different flavours makes for interesting entertainment, adds to the flavour, and gives opportunities for those that want to to take risks that otherwise wouldnt be possible.
  • 31 1
 @Someoldfart: "I like that courses are tough because the tech should trickle down to bikes we like to ride."

Those deliberately spiky vertical rock lane dividers aren't about making the course tough. They don't add any element of skill or technique. They don't reward any kind of equipment choice. They simply change the possible consequences of a mistake from cuts and bruises to long term hospitalisation and permanent injury. I cannot fathom the justification for putting them in.
  • 16 1
 @onawalk: When you’re at 190bpm trying to follow an attack and there are half buried rocks between lines that logic goes out the window.

Anyway I’m bored of the argument. It seems obvious to me. I really home no one wrecks themselves this weekend.
  • 6 10
flag onawalk (Jun 19, 2024 at 16:17) (Below Threshold)
 @BuntyHoven1: but there in lies the additional challenge of it all.
Why would it be any different for enduro or DH racers?
the ability to ride within, or just outside ones abilities, both mentally and physically is partially what XC racing needs to some degree.
  • 11 11
 These comments are wild everything is filled with complaints. The course looks rad, these are professional riders, it will be cool to watch. If you don’t like it or think it’s dangerous don’t watch it. We obviously don’t need to worry about anyone in these comments having to race it.
  • 8 0
 @Someoldfart: As a long time North Shore rider, BC XC racer and former DH racer, I disagree. None of our courses have been like this from 1984 to the present
  • 2 0
 @onawalk: it is different for those racers because the tracks they race one aren't lined with boulders or cut off treestumps as a riding surface. Thankfully in Leogang, there's plenty of dirt between the stumps Smile
  • 4 0
 I hear the Korean producers of Squid Game and interested in UCI XC
  • 3 0
 @eastonwest: except they're not all pros. Top level riders in their respective countries? Yes. All of them pro's? No.
  • 2 0
 @vercorin1: Hard to argue with someone sho has seen/ridden the course but it looks great to me. Only time will tell but the riders skill and bike capability is in a totally different place now. Personally i'd love the chance to ride that course.
  • 1 0
 @taprider: …indeed….for good reason….gratuitous risk
  • 2 0
 @BuntyHoven1: basically every alpine singletrack in Switzerland has natural, snaggletoothed gaurd rails like that. But yeah to include the on purpose is a bit too much i think.
  • 2 0
 @DickPoundsGhost: In Valais you quite often get them across the track to channel the water too. They're pretty "good" at causing punctures when you're tired at the end of the day!
  • 7 0
 @Someoldfart: racing BC, tush. You dont know how lucky you are. When i were a lad (yorkshire obviously) we dreamed of drop offs with pointy rocks. We only had Orange P7's, lycra shorts in neon colours and trails that went vertically down the coal mines, in the pitch black, on slicks. We ddddrrrrreeeeaaammmed of a soft track like Crans. Tush, the youth dont know how lucky they got it (all copyright claims that the above resembles a classic comedy troop from the 70's & 80's entirely coincidental......)
  • 1 0
 Now the rocks have pads on them LOL!
  • 15 1
 seems the only thing missing is a truck dumping bricks and rubble from some local construction site to make it more hardcore
  • 17 0
 I don't know, maybe a gap jump with a pile of open Swiss Army knives in the middle is missing too.
  • 6 0
 @MOBrules: With a large saucepan of boiling fondue in case they slip off the wood section
  • 10 0
 I've not been mountain biking for very long (just about 5-6 years). But even in that small time, it is amazing to see how XC race tracks (and bikes) have changed.

I mean just looking at the bikes being raced. In 2016-2018 many people were racing hardtails with 100mm forks, ~69-70 degree HTA angles, and rigid seat posts.

Now it seems that pretty much everyone is riding 110-120mm travel full suspension bikes with HTA's in the 66-67 degree range, and dropper posts.
  • 9 0
 we've come all long way from racing in farm fields to proper 'trail like' courses!
  • 13 0
 That rock berm with the gap in the middle is a weird feature.
  • 2 1
 That one is just confusing. I don’t see any reason to attempt that during the race when there’s plenty of room to the left.
  • 2 0
 Completely unnecessary. and you can already see where people have messed up and smashed into it. The rock drops are cool, but they need to remove those jagged rocks sticking up.
  • 2 1
 seems the gap is closed (at least during training) youtu.be/Dl7InOGT6gI?t=154
  • 5 1
 @dtheio: Makes sense, it seemed unnecessarily dangerous. Speaking of which, I see they've also laid pads over the stegosaurus rocks. I wonder who thought they were a good idea in the first place?
  • 1 0
 @dtheio: They better not remove that for the race. Same thing with the olympics... why have it covered if you remove it for the race? It should be open the whole time or not at all.
  • 1 0
 @ridedigrepeat: They already plywood'd it over and added a Swiss flag.
  • 20 8
 Great way to ruin an Olympics
  • 3 5
 Yeah... kind of a tone-deaf course right now.
  • 8 0
 I love the filming angles of the features getting everyone all excited under their collars, wondering if they would ride the XC course on their 160mm Enduro bike.
The best XC riders in the world are amazing bike handlers, lets hope we get some great POV stuff and feedback from the riders.
The course does look like art, beautiful as it is, I hope it stays dry.
All the features must have been tested and tweaked by someone or many folk who are probably not as good a rider as the racers.
Give it a chance lads, if its gonna fail/be changed, let it fail from the riders and team managers.
  • 8 0
 Thanks f***ing bananas. I pitty the fool that rides this without a dropper.
  • 3 0
 Sam Gaze enters the chat...
  • 9 1
 Yeah, some of those bits are too much with a pegged heart rate and racing elbow to elbow.
  • 14 2
 Not to mention no protection - downhill riders have full-face helmets, pads, and sometimes neck braces.
  • 9 0
 Crans - Montana trail builders got stoked after watching Hardline
  • 6 0
 So awesome. With electronic suspension, i bet we see XC bikes evolve into epic performance trail bikes even more. 65mm Head tube. 125 - 130mm rear and 130 - 140mm front.
  • 6 0
 better hope it dosnt rain on those logs! those upward facing rock border is a bit of a hazzard if your landing goes wrong. otherwise I might have to watch an XC now..
  • 5 0
 I predict some alterations to those rocky death lanes. The jagged protruding rocks look dangerous. I wonder who the course designer is and if he/she has ridden those features?
  • 1 0
 100% they will be asked to remove the rocks sticking up.
  • 5 1
 This track doesn't make sense for the XC. Do you have any idea how slippery those cut logs are? And what about the stones placed on purpose to delimit the route? Is there no committee here to safeguard the safety of pilots? Crashing on that track with an open helmet means months in the hospital.
  • 22 19
 I hate it. Man made obstacles, and deliberately made even more dangerous. It's a circus. Mountain bike racing used to be 'hey, we set out a course in nature, let's race and see who's fastest'. It was great, it was popular, there was a great scene. Yes, this new style is more spectacular, but we already have other disciplines for that. Let XC be XC.
  • 13 5
 I've never watched an XC race in my life. Just watched this course preview and I might actually watch this one now! Crans Montana looks insane and I'd love to try and ride it on my trail bike for 1 lap lol. People racing through a grass field, couldn't care less wouldn't tune in haha
  • 9 2
 The point of technical features isn't the risk or spectacle, but rather that mountain bike races ought to require both aerobic fitness and technical skill. If you want only cardio + nature in a bike race, gravel is your sport.

However - and I'd want to hear what the riders say before drawing any conclusions - this track may very well be too much.
  • 4 0
 I agree completely. Natural courses are better. However, money talks and making the course visually interesting sells currently. I do hope that the athletes speak up if the rain makes it dangerous.
  • 1 0
 @marshallthewolf: And that's fine. Like I said, there's other disciplines to scratch that itch.
  • 1 0
 @ABhardtail: The only thing a XC mountain bike race ought to require, is a course through nature. That's what cross country riding is; riding through a nature/mountainous environment, tackling what nature throws at you.
If in some places that means less technical skills required, so be it.

The difference with gravel racing, is that XC races consists of a rather condensed course, with multiple laps, and taking whatever nature has in store. Gravel racing is riding one big loop, over more mellow gravel roads and singletracks. More emphasis on endurance and speed. A different beast altogether.
  • 3 0
 Course looks 99% amazing. I wonder if they have time to take out the jagged rocks separating lines after the rock drops. Adds totally unnecessary risk for more severe injury. I’ll be interested to see what riders say in course preview videos.
  • 6 0
 Need @wynmasters to do a track walk
  • 2 0
 That would rule.
  • 3 1
 XC racers wear tiny, open face helmets and no other protection. IMO that makes the consequences of screwing something up on that rock garden similar to hardline... And you have to hit those features when racing other riders, possibly not being able to fully focus on the setup and after 30 minutes of all out effort. I hope nobody gets seriously injured.
  • 2 0
 I truly like the direction XC is going, more technical. Unfortunately, the best way to make it that way is to have a lot of man made features. If done right they can be both challenging and safe. These courses will only help advance bike designs, I feel that in order for it to be a MOUNTAIN BIKE race, you should need a mountain bike!! Hard tails have a place but this will push them to make bikes better. Also, this can only help with tire design as well. DH and enduro have done so much for tires, XC can help bridge that gap between traction and rolling resistance.
  • 5 0
 Looks like the kind of course we need Ben Cathro to dissect
  • 4 0
 Course Designers then: "Let's design a track tailored to Jolanda Neff!"

Course Designers now: :-(
  • 4 0
 Nino is renowned for his bike skills too Smile
  • 5 0
 Full face helmets make their first appearance in XC racing.
  • 3 1
 About time. I remember when the XC crowd thought disc brakes were overkill. All the good stuff eventually trickles down like droppers.
  • 2 0
 Dang, that looks like it is better than a 6' drop to rock with little room to be off line. I suspect very few people will hit that one, particularly if it starts to rain.
  • 1 0
 Definitely looks like trail bike territory, I hope it stays dry for the race! I reckon I'd ride it all on my XC HT (but it has a 170mm dropper), but not at race pace and not in the wet.
  • 3 0
 That looks crazy for xc lol. It also really cool. Not a fan of the tombstones separating the two lanes though
  • 4 0
 Health insurance is good in Switzerland and it shows in this track design
  • 3 0
 man, i'd like to see MVDP flying over this stuff. but the riders in the pack of this weekend will also rock. great
  • 4 2
 As long as they don't move the ramp first...
  • 2 0
 Pivot's XC team already uploaded their track walk video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDbNduuBQCo
- More info than the UCI video above
  • 3 0
 those pointy up tombstone rocks are gonna end someone. wouldn't be surprised to see them removed.
  • 1 0
 Don't know where the rock section is in relation to start/end of the loop....if it's near the start there's the possibility of carnage on the first lap when most of the riders are bunched together
  • 1 0
 Jagged rocks sticking up is just dangerous and unnecessary. A single crash or worse a pile up on that would be so consequential, and entirely avoidable by flawed design. All else looks great.
  • 3 0
 Dang that looks proper rowdy. Good luck in the wet...
  • 3 0
 Track looks sweet for some “Down Country” racing.
  • 3 0
 An XC track that actually requires a track walk is pretty awesome!
  • 3 0
 Looks spicy - hope this ends well!
  • 3 1
 Holy macrolly, more like light enduro course
  • 2 1
 The 18 inch tall anodized aluminum posts every 10 feet really take the cake. Not what I would call a natural feature.
  • 2 0
 Hermann Tilke? Is that you?!?
  • 2 0
 Damn, this is going to be a must watch. XC is getting bananas these days
  • 1 0
 It looks like everybody will be under biked with their XC race and downcountry bikes on that track.
  • 4 3
 This comment section is more proof: mountain bike racing fans are just the worst fans. All we do is fcking complain.
  • 3 1
 That is awesome. Adios dirt roadies
  • 3 2
 Damn no way I'd hit that rock drop on my XC bike.
  • 12 5
 Spoiled ass kids...We used to all ride hardtails with shit short(or no)-travel suspension on EVERYTHING.
  • 3 0
 @Explodo: Yup, user name checks out.
  • 4 0
 The drop is fine... the landing with the spicy rocks pointing up is not
  • 3 0
 @Explodo: Wow tell me more!
  • 2 2
 About time races are held on what looks to be common features the everyday mtbr comes across
  • 2 2
 every one in jeremy clarkson voice. "now this is proper mountain bike racing"
  • 1 0
 Going to need a supercross country bike for that course!
  • 1 0
 Do you all think a “down country” bike would be the ticket to success?
  • 1 0
 I'm sorry but when should you stop doing enduro with xc bikes?
  • 1 0
 XC'rtl Alt Delete
  • 1 1
 2 words--4 pots!
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