1. Hardtails are a Dying Breed in World Cup XC
Albstadt has always been home turf for the XC hardtail. Up until this year, only Annika Langvad
and Loana Lecomte had won this race using full suspension bikes with all the other winners on hardtails. This year, there has been a total reversal as both winners were on full suspension bikes and of the ten Elite podium finishers only two raced without rear suspension
- Mona Mitterwallner and David Vallero Serrano.
So, what's changed? Well firstly, full suspension platforms have come on a long way and technologies such as flex stay pivots have made them more efficient and lighter than ever before, which narrows the advantage hardtails might have had. Secondly, it seems Albstadt wasn't as easy this year as it has been in past years. A limestone covering made it even slippier than normal meaning the added traction of a full suspension proved more of an advantage than the lightness of a hardtail.
2. Road Training Pays Off for Pidcock and Gaze
Albstadt saw the successful return of a number of riders that had spent some time away from nobbly tires in the road cycling world. Sam Gaze's last race was the Kurne-Brussels-Kurne classic race and he also raced at Etoile de Bessèges earlier in the year for the Alpecin Fenix team. His road season was cut short by needing to have knee surgery, but he made the best return possible as he won the XCC race on Friday
, picking up where Mathieu Van Der Poel left off for the Belgian team.
Tom Pidcock had been having (by his very high standards) a relatively quiet road season that still included a podium at Dwars door Vlaanderen and a fifth at De Brabantse Pijl, but he came into the World Cup in fine form and needed just one big attack on lap 3 of the XCO to go clear for the win. Keep an eye on the site over the next few days as we're going to dig into some power data to see how the fitness of World Cup XC riders compares to that of the best in the road world.
3. Rebecca McConnell Finds Her Missing Ingredient
After her victory last round in Petropolis, we called Rebecca McConnell 'a Quiet Achiever
' well, she can't be ignored any longer. McConnell completed the perfect weekend by topping the results sheet in both the short track race on Friday evening and the Olympic race on Sunday, becoming only the fifth woman to ever do so.
The Aussie rider changed her coach over the off season and her new regime seems to have given her the extra edge over her competitors that turned her from a podium regular to the rider to beat. With the races now coming thick and fast, including Nove Mesto in 6 days' time, her competitors will have to find some extra pace quickly to contend with her new found form.
4. The Next Generation are Making Themselves Known
On Saturday, we saw another pair of back-to-back victories as Line Burquier and Martin Viadurre backed up their incredible performances in Brazil with another pair of solo victories. Just like Lecomte, Pidcock and Mitterwallner before them, they look to be the picks of the current U23 field.
Viadurre is Chile and South America’s first-ever mountain bike XCO world champion following his U23 success last year and Burquier is winning U23 races despite only turning 19 on Saturday. It's likely we'll see them challenging in the elite ranks next year.
5. Like it or Not, Headset Cable Routing is Incoming
One big tech trend we noticed this weekend was the continuing rise of headset cable routing. It's an idea that comes from the road world where flapping cables are an aero disaster. It's no surprise that World Cup XC riders are looking for the same marginal gains as their skinny tired siblings and recently we've seen the feature on the prototype Canyon Lux
and bikes from Bixs and Thomus in our Tech Randoms