XC Course Preview: Val di Sole World Cup 2018

Jul 5, 2018
by Matthew DeLorme  


For those of you that remember last year's Val di Sole XC course preview, I was a touch harsh. I still think it was not unfounded, but others did not agree. Either way, I am pleased to say the course which I berated last year for being too tame has been much improved. The terrain they have here in Val di Sole has been well utilized this year. There are new fresh cut technical sections, baby heads to catch riders out and loam for lines to be burnt into. Effort put in, praise given. Simple as that. Sure, much of the grass side around the start loop remains the same but what they did everywhere else is what matters. Val di Sole just became a proper XC course. Well done!

It all starts and finishes here.
It all starts and finishes here.

Evidence of freshness.
Evidence of freshness.

Slippery when wet and it s likely to be wet.
Slippery when wet, and it's likely to be wet.

Fresh new sections of track with a ton of effort put into them. Well done VDS.
Fresh new sections of track with a ton of effort put into them. Well done Val di Sole.


More work done More radness in XC.
More work done, more radness in XC.


4x being utilized again. Sweet as.
4X being utilized again. Sweet as.

Up hill 4x. Without a rider it just wouldn t make sense.
Up hill 4X. Without a rider it just wouldn't make sense.

Jump. Bigger jump in the back ground.
Jump. Bigger jump in the background.

Not just a straight single track anymore. A-line over the rocks straight down the middle. Lookers right is going to cost bike lengths.
Not just a straight singletrack anymore. A-line over the rocks straight down the middle. Looker's right is going to cost bike lengths.

Left has a high option but it will cost time.
Left has a high option but it will cost time.

Fresh and loamy. Love the fresh sections.
Fresh and loamy. Love the fresh sections.


We like this plan B.
We like this plan B.

More climbing with room for passing before the tech sections.
More climbing with room for passing before the tech sections.

It looks awkward from this angle but that high line carries speed into the following corner.
It looks awkward from this angle but that high line carries speed into the following corner.

Choose your line but there is the obvious fast line.
Choose your line, but there is an obvious fast line.

After a bit of practice these corners will be plenty rough.
After a bit of practice these corners will be plenty rough.

The question will be hard tail or full suspension to tame the rough stuff.
The question will be, hardtail or full suspension to tame the rough stuff?

Long gravel road climbs. VDS has some elevation gains.
Long gravel road climbs. Val di Sole has some elevation gains.

New routes in the woods. They have made some really good course changes here in VDS and utilized the terrain they have much better than they did last year. It s going to make for exciting racing.
New routes in the woods. They have made some really good course changes here in Val di Sole and utilized the terrain they have much better than they did last year. It's going to make for exciting racing.

Up not down.
Up not down.

Tire eye view of of the fresh cut punchy climbs.
Tire eye view of the fresh cut punchy climbs.

The twisty descent from from the top of the course. Single file only.
The twisty descent from the top of the course. Single file only.

Big rocks and a few line choices.
Big rocks and a few line choices.

Drops here and there to keep it interesting.
Drops here and there to keep it interesting.

Lines yet to be burnt in.
Lines yet to be burnt in.

Fluff.
Fluff.

Off the limb into the hard right and off camber loose dust. Despite the rain it s actually still dusty.
Off the limb into the hard right and off camber loose dust. Despite the rain, it's actually still dusty.



49 Comments

  • 31 2
 I think I would find riding down a lot of that on bikes with the geometry they ride pretty terrifying - massive respect to the racers who do it flat out while putting in huge efforts on the climbs too.
  • 21 6
 I’ve been there 3 or 4 years ago when Gwinny won the race and the title, and tge XC track was already “interesting”. Yet some folks still believe that XC racing bikes should have 70deg head angles, 100mm stems and no droppers... just read recent comments on XC bikes tests how people whine on “new geos” coming in. Because if you are not wobbled into a near death experience with handlebar below knee level and seat up your large intestine it’s not “proper” XC. We should keep the sport “pure”.
  • 8 1
 @WAKIdesigns: The results won't lie. If the courses keep looking like this, the pros aren't going to be riding hardtails with 70* head angles. They'll use the tools that work because winning is job #1 and people will have to deal with those facts. How many 29ers were there just over a year ago at a World Cup DH race? How many are there now? Have no worries my friend, the truth will set them free!
  • 9 3
 @WAKIdesigns: threads like these make me die on the inside. The top pros own trail/enduro bikes, they know they handle. They have the geometry they do because they work for the types of racing where you have to put out 4-5w/kg uphill and keep the front end on the ground.
  • 7 0
 People complain about slackening geometry for xc bikes as most people that ride or race xc dont have technical courses like this. Most xc race courses around the world are based on farm trails or easy single track where bikes with 69-70 degrees are far more suited
  • 3 0
 i love xc race tracks on my enduro bike lol. seriously, its fun on these bikes. i think you've to be quite good find them fun on xc bikes!
  • 3 7
flag WAKIdesigns (Jul 5, 2018 at 22:41) (Below Threshold)
 @clink83: heh as if a ht or 100mm FS would handle badly if it had geometry of a modern 120 trail bike. Do you see any owners of Fuel Ex whining on how badly it climbs? Current XC bikes suck, for everybody. Garda and Trans All folk just don’t know any better.
  • 4 5
 Spandex+jumps+rocks= hahaha!
  • 3 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Most of the "Garda and Trans All" crowd lack riding skills. A more capable XC bike will not help if they are not willing to know better in that area either.


On the other side of the spectrum: I would love to see Mathieu van der Poel try enduro. It would fit his bill of being excellent in any cycling discipline. The dude dominated CX, is a major contender in XC and (wth!) won the Dutch *road* cycling championships last weekend, amongst a lot of guys in Tour de France prep form.
  • 2 0
 @WAKIdesigns: My only point about mad XC geometry is that surely if the top guys thought trail bike geo worked better and was faster they would be using it?

If an advantage could be gained I would expect one of the brands to have gone for it - maybe it just works for the top people?

I do agree that current XC geo sucks for 'normal' riders but then so would the geometry on a Yamaha R1 race bike.
  • 2 2
 @justanotherusername:

That’s not how it works. The XC / XC Marathon segment is possibly bigger than all other segments of MTB combined. I mean alu bike on deore level, not ATB which is even bigger. Most of these people are completely clueless, they have other things to do in life. Fair enough. That means they focus on what closest friends and pros ride. It is rather irrelevant what you give to them, the important thing is that it does not differ much from their previous bike or from what other people ride. Hence the segment is extremely conservative. However if companies released their 9.9, S-Works, race models in more aggro geos, the general populace would adopt it as a norm in a matter of 2 years. The Down country segment has gone bananas with geometries in only last few years and it’s not some trend. Enduro had free hand to chose most suitable geometries and trail/ doen country followed. Now you have a big gap between Top Fuel and Fuel EX or Epic and Stumpy. Those bikes simply handle better. Please keep in mind that it took XC bikes over 4 years to adopt steep 73-75 seat angles while the performance benefit on climbs was obvious. They are still resistant to droppers for no other reason than weight. They just go with: it worked in the past without, why wouldn’t it work now? Oh Everyone crashes sometimes. What if you have a much lower chance to crash or puncture? And you recover better during the descent?

It’s conservatist ideology driven game not performance thing. After all pros are so damn good they adapt to anything. Amateurs? Not so much.
  • 2 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Does seat tube angle have an impact on performance? It does not dictate where you put your seat relative to the wheels. Seat tube angles that extreme that you cannot fix things with seatpost setback or lack thereof and clamp position on the seat rails have been extremely rare. 73 degrees has been the norm for XC bikes since the 90's. It's not a recent trend, although 74 and especially 75 might be.
  • 4 0
 @WAKIdesigns: though I don't deny that - it doesn't answer the question as to if XC geo is so bad why do the top racers use it - you say the just adapt but if an advantage could be gained there is no question that a brand would have tried it, even just as a custom frame for race use.

The average customer won't pour over geometry charts and pictures / race reports so wouldn't know if say Scott used race bikes with geometry different to their deore level HT.

What you describe just doesn't make sense, it's a bit tin foil hat.
  • 1 0
 @yupstate: climbing speeds are low you need steel geo.
Slack will be more stable but no faster .(in skilled hands )
Hard for gravity riders \ testers to get there heads round
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: If that's their opinion then they should go race CX , that's as "Pure" as it gets
  • 2 4
 @jeroenk: huh, yeah seat angle only dictates weight balance of the bike with seated rider on and then which muscles get used to which degree. 73 since 90s? Maybe on selected bikes, the standard has been 71-73 but never past 73.

@justanotherusername - you assume it has to do with performance but it has to do with catering to the market. Current Scott Spark has geometry of the first SC 5010. Then you get intense and UNNO. People think that there is value in 69-70 head angle for climbs. There isn't. XC bike is about lightest possible tyres and wheels, then about positioning of pedals grips. Then we can talk BB height (for Joeys place it high) and rear axle so that wheel patch doesn't end up too far back so you start losing pressure on it. Front tyre location for climbing? pfff. It's a problem if you sit upright like uou'd have a few locked up vertebraes (like most Joeys sit) as soon as you bend your arms in elbows and put your position forward (as you freaking should) there's no problem up till around 67. Below you need to stand up on steepest stuff but then there is no point in going below that for an XC bike because XC tyres won't be able to cope with speeds that this geo will allow you to ride at.

I can ride a short and steep DJ bike on gnarliest stuff around, is it effective and necessary? no. Would high seat help me to ride faster? that was the claim of mr Marco Fontana - XCers need high seat to control the bike, pffffff... ride a DJ bike on gnarly trail and then ride XC bike with seat up and come back to me that you want to stay with high saddle.

How come road bikes stayed with unchanged geos for so long? performance? really? then why Tri TT bikes are now going through renaissance with various tweaks in that department? Because there are no stupid elitist rules stopping the development. You have gravel bikes now, who in their right mind wouldn't ride a CX bike with road tyres instead of fkng dreadful road bike with race geo? Well many wouldn't because pros ride uncomfortable bikes. It took the "invention" of gravel bike to make many people take the finger out of their bum and get a fkng good bike. How long were roadies using fkng 23cm tyres and now they switch between 28 and 32. Who saw that coming 5 years ago? Not the uptight elitists, that's for sure. Not to mention all those a*sholes who are against disc brakes which is cycling worlds version of flat Earth theory..
  • 1 3
 @nick1957: uhm no, 67 head angle on XC bike won't do anything detrimental to it's uphill handling. It will greatly improve descending.
  • 1 0
 @jeroenk: I would like to see it too but to be honest here, I don't know if he actually has the technical skills for an EWS race, although I'm sure with practice he would learn quickly. Some of the ex DH world champs struggle with those courses...
  • 2 0
 @WAKIdesigns: as I said hard for gravity riders to get there heads round , still keep on keeping on
  • 1 3
 @nick1957: so you see me as a gravity rider? Huh, I consider myself a better climber than descender but whatever. I like to call myself someone who rides a bike in the woods and find all aspects of it equally interesting. I just wonder how come sworn XCers struggle to get good at multidisicplinary riding and then a BMXer comes along, trains for 1 or two years and kicks their arses to the bone. Maybe hard for someone with average skills to grasp it?
  • 1 0
 Pro XC riders will be oppressed until such time as they are sponsored by Intense Sniper. Behold Van der Poel wobbled into near death experience again and again on his 70d hta bike--fork rake not specified. 'NATURAL SECTION' sponsored by Bike Land. Will the troll queen save the Joeys from inherent danger? It's okay with me if >69deg htas are banned. Besides, frame marketers will love it.
  • 5 0
 @WAKIdesigns: right, so Nino can have any bike or frame he wants and he's racing on 68-69 degree bikes that he designs, even though he has access to scotts trail bikes. If you think a 120mm trail bike climbs as well as a pure 100mm xc bike you don't know jack about the sport, just like the majority of pinkbikers.
  • 2 1
 m.youtube.com/watch?v=UgQbIB_98NM&t=201s

Xc racers don't know proper bime geometries and are nothing but dirt roadies oh noes!
  • 3 0
 @clink83: This was my view - Its conspiratorial to think that every single top rider on the circuit is being bullied into riding what the are told and that nobody has tried anything else because of the wider market.

Angle headsets, different stem and bar types, custom geometry etc are easy to come by for pro riders and time testing would be easy yet none of these riders choose to ride anything that deviates from the 'usual' stuff. To me it means one thing - they know what is fastest at the sharpest end of the sport of XC racing that's just it a

That or Waki should be running a UCI WC XC team.
  • 16 0
 Can we please have a course preview with Ratty on a 5010?
  • 2 0
 & have XC and DH swap courses?
  • 13 1
 I'm sorry, there must be an mistake here, i think someone's got the Leogang DH course snaps mixed up with this edit!
  • 1 0
 Because Leogang was so tame that Gwin got on the podium with a bum wrist? 3 weeks later he can't even complete qualifying at Val di Sol...
  • 9 1
 Looks pretty damn good. And the race coverage has been great this year. Once we reach the point where none of the (unlimited budget pro team) riders want to ride a hard tail at any of the rounds then the new era of xc will have arrived
  • 6 0
 Looks awesome! I'd ride it......on my enduro bike.
  • 6 0
 When a photo of a climb looks steep, the climb is steep AF.
  • 5 0
 props to the guy about to ride down "gopro climb" #resist
  • 3 0
 Really excited to see the XC course design.
  • 3 0
 Idk... still doesn't make me wanna spin laps on it, that's for sure.
  • 3 0
 That's a lot of dirty pictures.
  • 1 0
 I want some XTR crime scene tape! Cool! Less neg rise stems, more full squish and droppers in the XC World Cup than ever. Whatever is fastest...
  • 3 0
 Great looking course.
  • 2 4
 Still doesnt look very technical. XC is still basically a climbing competition
  • 2 6
flag mcozzy (Jul 6, 2018 at 2:53) (Below Threshold)
 Plus who can wear the tightest most ridiculous clothing.
  • 1 1
 I agree, XC is definitely getting more tech but this course is not the best example imo.
  • 3 0
 Yea, that's kind of the point of XC. Its a race both UP and DOWN the hills.
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