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Pinkbike Predictions: Who Could Win a Rainbow Jersey at the Glentress XC World Champs 2023?

Aug 10, 2023 at 9:48
by Ed Spratt  
That s World Champs all wrapped up. Next up World Cup finals in Val di Sole.

Only a few days after the wild downhill racing in Fort William the world's best XC racers have headed to Glentress in the Tweed Valley for what will be another big showdown. While the World Cup series often rewards consistency the World Champs is an all-or-nothing battle of the world's best. As the racing begins we have given our best shot at predicting who we think could be the ones to watch this weekend.

Who Could Win the Women's Racing?


Puck Pieterse:

As the overall World Cup series leader, 2023 European champ and three-time World Cup winner this season, Puck Pieterse enters the World Champs in Scotland as the clear favorite. Puck has proven multiple times that she is the one to beat this year as she has outclassed some of the sport's biggest names across a variety of venues and race conditions. The young racer is looking fast already in practice this week and is not only a threat in the XCO but could take a double victory this week with a win in the Short Track.


Pauline Ferrand Prevot:

If any rider knows how to peak for a big race it is Pauline Ferrand Prevot. After taking four World titles in 2023 the French rider has struggled to find a winning pace so far this season. This week in Scotland could be the time when we see one of the sport's most successful racers in recent years return to form as she will be trying to hold onto the XCC and XCO titles.

Loana Lecomte is set for a day under the sun.

Loana Lecomte:

Loana Lecomte is another top rider with a mixed bag of results in 2023. With a win at the second round in Lenzerheide and the 2023 French National title Loana has shown some form this year and the course at Glentress could work well with her strengths as she fights for her first Elite titles.

Who Could Win the Men's Racing?

Tom Pidcock wasn t meant to be on the start line today but Ondrej Cink pulled out and opened up a space.

Tom Pidcock:

Tom Pidcock may have only raced one round of this year's World Cup series but with wins at both the XCC and XCO races in the opening round, he certainly made a big impact. Tom is yet to win an Elite World Championship off-road but with a chance to take the rainbow stripes at a somewhat home race we think he will be tough to beat.

Nino Schurter lurking before the start.

Nino Schurter:

Never count out Nino Schurter. With ten World Championship titles already to his name, Nino is more than used to producing a performance good enough to take the rainbow jersey. Despite securing his worst World Cup finish with 21st at Leogang the 2023 season has been very successful for the Swiss rider as he equalled and passed the all-time win record of Julien Absalon as he won at Lenzerheide and Val Di Sole. Nino heads into this week's racing with the overall World Cup lead and the last World Cup win alongside the always-tough task of defending the stripes. If anyone can handle the pressure and win it is Nino.

Mathias Fluckiger talking strategy before the race.

Mathias Flückiger:

Another Swiss rider to watch is Mathias Flückiger who has been slowly returning to form after sustaining a hand injury earlier this season. After a 2nd at Val Di Sole Mathias looks to be back to his usual self and could be a real contender to stop Pidcock and Schurter from taking the gold.

Honorable Mentions

While we have made our main predictions for potential winners above there were other riders who we should mention as potential top performers this weekend.

Locked and loaded for Evie Richards.

Evie Richards knows how to win World Champs after her Val Di Sole win back in 2021 and with the racing on UK soil, she will be after a good result as she is cheered on by her home crowds.

Van der Poel is going to have to turn it up a couple notches come Leogang.

The true wildcard for this week's racing is Mathieu Van Der Poel. After his incredible showing at the road World Champs Mathieu is heading off-road for the first time this season as he hunts the rainbow stripes. We don't know what his mountain bike performance is like in 2023 so his chance at the win could be slim or the Dutch rider could dominate. Mathieu's fitness is clearly there and we could be in for something special if he can put a good ride together for the main event on Saturday.

Who do you think can win this weekend?

Who Will Win the Elite Women's World Champs?

Who Will Win the Elite Men's World Champs?

Author Info:
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  • 30 0
 MVDP is a wildcard outsider? Lol.
  • 8 2
 lol right? i understand he hasn't been on MTB as much lately but homie just demonstrated his fitness on the top stage.....won the road race after crashing AND hopping off his bike to take a sh1t inside a spectators house, lol. dunno how he gets included as an honorable mention wildcard....sus
  • 25 5
 As he hasn't raced an XC World Cup in over two seasons he is untested against riders who have been winning races while he was away. As I said in the article he could turn up and dominate or he could be way off the pace of riders who have already been at and winning World Cups this year.
  • 4 1
 @trinityalper: Good interview: youtu.be/YogZubKl4sw

Not to mention, he broke his cleat in the RR, dealt with it, gave 0 F's, and still won.
  • 7 0
 IDK I could see it going either way. His fitness is clearly there, but he just finished what many people are saying was the hardest race they've ever done and sustained a crash in the process. Maybe he'll be recovered, but if he's still feeling fatigued and/or has a minor injury that could take him out of contention. Either way, it'll be tough to beat a fresh Pidcock with those steep climbs.
  • 1 2
 @beeeefkirky: those are good points; article should have picked up on those ideas. IMO, article does not provide sufficient evidence for categorizing MVDP as an honorable mention by just saying he has not raced on dirt this year.
  • 16 3
 I get that no one watches road racing, so let me help. MVDP is coming off a historic year of winning the world championship in cyclocross, Paris-Roubaix, Milan-San Remo, and the road world championship just 5 days ago. More to the point, he stopped and took a dump in someone's house, crashed and broke his shoe, and still went supernova in the last lap. If he can just remember where the drops are, it's game over for the rest of this mediocre XC field.
  • 13 1
 @trinityalper: He didn't "hop off his bike" to take a shit during the race... There was a one hour stop during the race (because of protesters blocking the road) so he found a house and took a shit... It didn't cost him any time, as the race was stopped at the time.

But yes, he had a great race and blew everybody's doors off!
  • 1 0
 @billreilly: True, the shit didn't cost him time. He still took heaps of time on three of the world's four best one day racers after crashing and breaking a cleat and Boa on one side. Pogacar was more or less carried away from the interview area, that's how hard that race was.
  • 2 0
 @ak-77: He's the best bike racer in the world today... Him and Tom Pidcock, with Pauline Ferrand-Prevot on the women's side, are making history... We live in a great time for cycling!
  • 2 0
 @billreilly: MvdP is making history this year, PFP did so already, I don't see what historical feats Pidcock would obtain any time soon. Still he's a force on two wheels and favorite for tomorrow. Great times indeed.
  • 2 0
 The uci is worse than a uti
  • 9 2
 @edspratt: He's untested against who exactly? He's never had to work up to winning in XC. Unless he crashes he has Pidcock's number in every single cycling discipline. Here's an unpleasant truth about the XC mens field - they're only there because they're not fast enough to land a lucrative road contract. You're comparing part time athletes who barely make six figures with a once in a generation talent who makes eight figures - and still gets off couch to win 5 CX titles.
  • 1 0
 @ak-77: PFP is still making history, adding to her already historic career, and she's still young... Tom Pidcock is also still young yet he is the 2021 Olympic XCO Champion, the 2022 Cyclocross World Champion and can very easily add many more gold medals to his collection over the next few years.

MvdP, PFP and Pidcock are 3 of the best in the multi-discipline cycling world... We just need to see Wout van Aert take up mountain biking!
  • 1 4
 @beeeefkirky: Pidcock also raced the 168 mile road race….
  • 1 0
 @rsheb79: did he? Didn't see him on the start list.
  • 1 0

Blew the doors off "taking a shit"? He should probably see a doctor.

....Mind you, after and/or during a race, those porta potties definitely take a beating
  • 1 1
 @beeeefkirky: love that your comment dismisses N1NO.
Fitness for the road and fitness for an xc race are 2 different beasts or we would see the top 2 from the road having a bash, especially as there are climbs involved.
You can't compare being road climb fit to xc climb fit!
  • 4 0
 @fentoncrackshell: The last time they raced an XCO world cup race together (nove mesto 2021) Pidcock beat him comfortably. I think the elevation gain needed for the MTB courses plays into Pidcock's favour as it becomes more about power to weight than raw power. I agree the MVDP generally owns him in Cyclocross and flatter one day road races though. But MVDP could never have won on Alp D'Huez like pidcock did. Horses for courses. To act like its a forgone conclusion is ridiculous.
  • 1 0
 @betsie: didn't dismiss him at all. Was responding to a comment talking about MVDP and then said Pidcock would be tough to beat. It's a steep course, he's small, and has won the olympics and WCs against Nino. Not saying Nino doesn't have a chance, but Pidcock as shown he's up for the task and this course suits him.
  • 2 0
 There's no end to what MVDP can achieve....assuming he gets an unbroken night's sleep of course.
  • 1 0
 @edspratt: any idea why the elite riders have spat the dummy with UCI ?
Just seen the press release from nino
  • 2 0
 @deertrackdoctor: MVDP, Pidcock and Sagan have all been bumped up the start grid. Riders are upset at the way the UCI have changed the rules at the last minute.
  • 1 0
 @commental: thanks for that
  • 1 0
 @rsheb79: No, he actually didn't.
  • 28 0
 My money's on Pidcock but my heart is with N1no.
  • 20 0
 Pidcock to get to the front on that new Pinarello and the rest of the field are left vomiting in his wake having had to look at it.
  • 3 0
 Pinarello fanboys will buy that no matter how bad it looks. And it looks hideous.
  • 1 0
 Haha. Best comment yet.
  • 7 1
 PP or LL for the females.

For the dudes this course has Pidcocks name all over it.. The non stop switchbacks up through the forest (think there was about 8 of them) which were all tight and kind of chunky. Then coming down it's all off camber and almost sandy (think cx, yes i know mvdp is world champ in cx). The only "power" sections are kind of at the start and finish. Not saying mvpd is only a power rider, but he's not a switch back climber like TP or even nino for that matter..

I would be amazing for mvdp to get this win just so he can go down in the history books joining PVP as the only one to have all 3x world titles in the same year. I don't think anyone else has done that other than her. I "think'.

This course fits someone right in the middle of those top 3:

Skillwise it goes (duh this imo)

Power/Form it goes

pidcock is the most well rounded for the course.

I guess don't count of flucky, but you never know with him. Also sam guaze did just win the xcc..

hope it's a close exciting race.
  • 4 0
 I watched Puck Pierterse track preview video. She sent the technical parts & gap jump with no problems while crowds of other riders were debating the ride around lines. I think she's got this.
  • 6 1
 The crowds of other riders are the juniors, lesser nations and so on - she had already done the looking and pondering bit I dont think a track preview tells us anything (other than she is not going to have a second career as a Youtube personality when racing is done).
  • 1 0
 @paulskibum: "lesser nations" is the term of the day, congrats!
  • 6 0
 never bet against MVDP
  • 2 4
 except in this year's Tour De France.
  • 6 0
 @endurasport: ? He was an absolute cheat code for Philipsen, no chance would he have won green without VDP. Hell is VDP had wanted to I'm sure he could've just kept on sprinting and beaten Philipsen lol
  • 1 0
 @endurasport: pretty sure he was only there to prepare for worlds. He knows he can't win tdf.
  • 2 0
 @Murder-One: No he wasn't. He wanted at least a stage. But he was ill. And still rode it out.
  • 2 3
 @Murder-One: "He knows he can't win tdf." - first year watching the tour?!
  • 2 0
 @readikus: It seems you maybe don't really following road racing or grand tours in particular. MVDP is an exceptional cyclist, one of the best in the world but he wins one day races and flatter or rolling stages of tours. He can out climb anyone on short punchy climbs because he is a very powerful rider. However the tour is won in the high mountains where he loses minutes due purely to his larger powerful stature that allows him to win in other areas. So far he has entered four grand tours with his best GC result being 57th, a rider at the height of his career would have surely made a concerted effort to win at least once by now.
You need to be a little guy for grand tours so as to be able to maintain a high watts to kg ratio for long peroids, MVP is over 6 feet and 75kg while this years winner Jonas Vingegaard by comparison is 5'9" and 60kgs.
If you cant win in the mountains you are not winning a grand tour.
  • 1 0
 For the race tomorrow it's set for rain showers so I guess it will depend on the riders who can handle wet roots and wet loam the best . . . I guess this would be Pidcock and MVDP.
  • 3 3
 I am surprised that Jolanda Neff isn't on that list. I understand that her performance hasn't been there this season so far, but that track seems to be a technical beast and she is hands down the best tech rider put there.
  • 2 0
 She's there
  • 2 0
 I didn't see a technical beast in mixed relay and ebike races. Clearly a fast rolling one with few roots at some spots. Berms and jumps aren't technical here! Not sure the best for Shutter and the other puncher/lighter riders
  • 2 0
 Puck is obviously dominant right now but my heart belongs to others riders.
  • 3 0
 Glad I could update fantasy team based on XCC results. PFP FTW!
  • 5 3
 Pidcock can only be beaten by MVDP.
  • 1 0
 There are only very few occasions I remember that Pidcock won a race the MvdP was also in. Strade Bianche this year, and the Olympics but in both cases there wasn't a head to head battle near the end of the race. Pidcock has focused much more on the mtb though. Interesting battle!
  • 2 1
 @ak-77: They've raced each other twice at XC WC's (in 2021) - Pidcock won both.

  • 1 0
 @gordonwatt: thanks. My memory is completely unreliable apparently.
  • 3 0
 @ak-77: All I can remember is the Roots and Rain address...
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