Carrying on from the incredible racing at the season opener in Nove Mesto the second round of the year in Leznerheide delivered plenty of moments to get excited about. From fresh tech winning gold medals again to struggling World Champions, the Swiss course was both cruel and kind to riders hoping for World Cup glory. As the teams and riders pack up their kit and try to get prepped for another weekend of racing in Austria we take a look at some of the stories we spotted in Lenzerheide.
Electronic Suspension Takes A Second Elite XCO Win in 2023
While electronic suspension seems to have come and gone in Enduro racing, it is starting to gain traction in XC. Following Tom Pidcock riding electronically controlled suspension
to an Olympic gold medal, the British racer has continued to see success with this system including a win at round one in Nove Mesto. This past weekend in Lenzerheide Nino Schurter appears to have joined Pidcock as we spotted the World Champ running a SID fork with RockShox's Flight Attendant system
. How much these systems actually played in securing the wins for these riders is not clear and giving fresh tech to some of the World's best racers will always increase the chances of a win. It will be interesting to watch if these systems become mainstream and are used by the whole XC field or if they disappear similar to the setups we previously saw from Enduro racers.
Loana Lecomte Become Only Elite Woman to Win Back-to-Back at Lenzerheide
Another record achieved this weekend in Lenzerheide was Loana Lecomte becoming the first Elite Woman to take the XCO win in consecutive years. Previously Jenny Rissveds was the only Elite Woman to win more than once in Lenzerheide as she took the victory here in 2016 and in 19, Nino Schurter remains the only Elite Male rider to do this. With her win on Sunday Loana now joins this exclusive club of multiple Lenzerheide winners after her impressive show of strength. Sadly with no Lenzerheide round coming up for the next two years at least, Loana won't be able to challenge Nino's triple wins from 2016-2018. Although if Loana is after a triple victory she will be carrying great confidence into Leogang where she has taken the top spot for the past two years.
Another Swing & a Miss for Pauline Ferrand Prevot
After a slow start to the 2022 season, Pauline Ferrand Prevot ended the year in spectacular fashion as she secured not one but four rainbow jerseys across XCC, XCO, XC Marathon and even gravel. The off-season also brought some big changes as the multiple World Champ headed to Ineos to ride alongside teammate Tom Pidcock. Coming into 2023 it was hard to bet against Pauline Ferrand Prevot. So far the promise of a winning performance is yet to pay off as at both races the French racer has fallen just short of the win against last-lap attacks from Puck Pieterse and Loana Lecomte. While Puck Pieterse could only find five seconds on Pauline Ferrand Prevot, the implosion caused by her attempt to match Loana Lecomte's prowess at Lenzerheide sent her almost forty seconds back. As we head into the next round at Leogang, Pauline Ferrand Prevot will want to pick up some of the winning speed she held last year. Even more so if she wants to carry some confidence into a very important home Olympics in Paris next year.
Nino Schurter Finally Breaks the Win Record
No story in Lenzerheide beats the perfect moment of strength, determination and unmatched skill as Nino Schurter finally having his 34th World Cup win. Heading into 2023 there is not a lot left for Nino Schurter to achieve in XC racing as only the total win record hanged over his head. Nino Schurter equalled Julien Absalon's record of 33 wins at last year's Petrópolis World Cup.
While Nino Schurter couldn't quite get to the front of the race at Nove Mesto crossing the line in third, the fairytale ending of achieving such an incredible total of wins at his home race will have made it all the sweeter. Not only did his ride in Lenzerheide break records, Nino Schhurter also stamped his authority over the Elite Men's XC field playing an excellent tactical game to roll across the line 15 seconds up after a fairly relaxed (for a race) final lap. Of course, while the record has been broken we still have plenty more races this year, could we see Nino Schurter go even higher than 34?