The First Showdown - Nove Mesto XC World Cup

May 24, 2015 at 12:59
by Matthew DeLorme  
This morning as the sun rose, obscured from view, many of us may have had a notion of how things would pan out today. Jolanda Neff had the strength and skills to take the win, but not without a fight. That much proved true for many of us. The other side of the coin was whether or not Nino Schurter would walk away with an easy first win of the season. That proved not true. Jaroslav Kulhavey had other plans of how today would shake down. Needless to say, there was some very exciting racing in the woods of Nove Mesto today.

Will it hold We ve seen many rainy World Cups before and the predictions are not that good.
Will it hold? We've seen many rainy World Cups before and the predictions were not that good.

Red Bull always brings out the fighting bulls for a good half time show.
Red Bull always brings out the fighting bulls for a good "half time show."

Race watchers came out in all kinds of costumes. These guys were singing hi ho hi ho it s off to work we go in Czech.
Race watchers came out in all kinds of costumes. These guys were singing "hi ho, hi ho, it's off to work we go" in Czech.

Concentrated on the line Grant Ferguson.
On the line and concentrated, Grant Ferguson.

Smells of lotion and sounds of buzzing tyres fill the air as riders warm up for the start of the men s U23 race in Nove Mesto.
Smells of lotion and sounds of buzzing tyres fill the air as riders warm up for the start of the men's U23 race.

With two minutes to go Grant Ferguson and Anton Cooper ran off to water the grass.
With two minutes to go, Grant Ferguson and Anton Cooper ran off to water the grass.

There s no easy start in crosscountry racing. Either go flat out or you re out straight away. Pablo Rodriguez takes the holeshot.
There's no easy start in cross-country racing. Either go flat out, or you're out straight away. Pablo Rodriguez takes the holeshot.

Grant Ferguson leads in the first lap. The Scottish rider set a furious pace.
Grant Ferguson leads in the first lap. The Scottish rider set a furious pace.

Heavy rains in the past night changed the course slightly yet it remained in an excellent shape. Riders will have to be careful of slippery roots and rocks though as a slight drizzle keeps them wet.
Heavy rains last night changed the course slightly, yet it remained in an excellent shape. Riders will have to be careful of slippery roots and rocks though as a slight drizzle keeps them wet.

Riders everywhere in the forest. Slightly confusing isn t it
Riders everywhere in the forest. Slightly confusing isn't it?

Lars Forster puts the hammer down in the 2nd lap. The Swiss rider battled up front throughout the race.
Lars Forster puts the hammer down in the 2nd lap. The Swiss rider battled up front throughout the race.

This marshall found a better spot. Nice and quite far from the pesky crowds.
This marshall found a better spot. Nice and quiet, far from the pesky crowds.

A strong Sam Gaze seemed to be on his way to victory Lars Forster battling to keep his wheel towards the highest point on course.
A strong Sam Gaze seemed to be on his way to victory, Lars Forster battling to keep his wheel towards the highest point on course.

A fair share of riders had transmission issues both with SRAM and Shimano drivetrains. Broken chains dropped chains and...dropped batteries as some mechanics found it wise not to secure the Di2 battery inside the seatpost.
A fair share of riders had transmission issues, both with SRAM and Shimano drivetrains. Broken chains, dropped chains and...dropped batteries as some mechanics found it wise not to secure the Di2 battery inside the seat post.

The men s U23 race was a close battle with Forster leading and Gaze Ferguson and Frischknecht right on his back.
The men's U23 race was a close battle, with Forster leading and Gaze, Ferguson and Frischknecht right on his back.

Multitasking is no problem. Filming and blowing the horn. Only thing missing is a selfie stick.
Multitasking is no problem. Filming and blowing the horn. The only thing missing is a selfie stick.

Lars Forster takes the win in the men s U23 race in Nove Mesto.
Lars Forster takes the win in the men's U23 race in Nove Mesto.

Lars Forster s after-battle face.
Lars Forster's post-battle face.

Lars Forster s 1x11 mechanical XTR equipped wheeler.
Lars Forster's 1x11 mechanical XTR equipped wheeler.

Pauline Ferrand Prevot and Oscar Saiz prior to the women elite s start. Oscar Saiz provides valuable coaching taking Pauline s skills to the next level.
Pauline Ferrand Prevot and Oscar Saiz, prior to the women elite's start. Oscar Saiz provides valuable coaching, taking Pauline's skills to the next level.

Emily Batty relaxed before the women s elite race.
Emily Batty, relaxed before the women's elite race.

Transponders are awaiting pickup for the women s elite race.
Transponders awaiting pickup for the women's elite race.

Nove Mesto XCO

Jolanda Neff was all smiles at the start.
Jolanda Neff was all smiles at the start.

Women s Start.
Women's Start.

Pauline Prevot kept it going to third place today.
Pauline Prevot kept it going to third place today.

Neff was way out front when things got technical. she had the skills to force a fast pace.
Neff was way out front when things got technical. She had the skills to force a fast pace.

Catharine Pendrel finds her way around on the big nasty Mitas rock garden. Pendrel finished forth.
Catharine Pendrel finds her way around on the big nasty Midas rock garden. Pendrel finished forth.

Annika Sorenson
Annika Sorenson.

Jolanda s slightly muddy legs proved mighty strong today.
Jolanda's slightly muddy legs proved mighty strong today.

Nove Mesto XCO

New and old generation battle for top honours.
New and old generation battle for top honours.

Gunn-Rita brought out the firepower and gave Neff a run for her money on Several occaisons.
Gunn-Rita brought out the firepower and gave Neff a run for her money on Several occasions.

Throughout the race Jolanda and Gunn-Rita remained close. Neff s downhill skills were a notch above Dahle-Flesjaa s however.
Throughout the race, Jolanda and Gunn-Rita remained close. Neff's downhill skills were a notch above Dahle-Flesjaa's however.

Bad luck means bad results. Early technicals put many riders out of the running.
Bad luck means bad results. Early technicals put many riders out of the running.

Gun Rita making the single track look easy.
Gun Rita making the single track look easy.

Neff showing she can boost the gaps on BMX like the big guns.
Neff showing she can boost the gaps on BMX like the big guns.

With one lap to go Neff stepped up her game. Dahle-Flesjaa beaten.
With one lap to go, Neff stepped up her game. Dahle-Flesjaa beaten.

Gasping for air at the top of the course reigning World Champ Catharine Pendrel had a tough start but managed to make it up the field again.
Gasping for air at the top of the course, reigning World Champ Catharine Pendrel had a tough start but managed to make it up the field again.

Annika Langvad finding her rhythm in the Mitas rock garden. She finished fifth.
Annika Langvad finding her rhythm in the Midas rock garden. She finished fifth.

Bec Henderson had a solid ride today
Bec Henderson had a solid ride today. She finished eighth, her best result in elite to date.

Many expected Jolanda Neff to ride for victory few named Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjaa on their list for today.
Many expected Jolanda Neff to ride for victory, few named Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjaa on their list for today.

Jolanda Neff s gone.
Jolanda Neff's gone.

Gunn-Rita coming out of Rock and Roll and chasing Neff down to the finish. She came just a second behind Neff.
Gunn-Rita coming out of Rock and Roll and chasing Neff down to the finish.

Looking back with meters to go to the finish line Jolana realises she s bagged the first win.
Looking back with meters to go to the finish line, Jolanda realises she's bagged the first win.

Eva Lechner takes a moment to gather herself.
Eva Lechner takes a moment to gather herself.

Victory sweet victory.
Victory, sweet victory.

The crowds are what makes Nove Mesto such an awesome venue. Cheering for every single rider. Absolutely amazing.
The crowds are what makes Nove Mesto such an awesome venue. Cheering for every single rider. Absolutely amazing.

A quick joke between Marco and Jose before things get serious.
A quick joke between Marco and Jose before things get serious.

The sheer speed on the men s start is an incredible scene to witness. An electrifying atmosphere in Nove Mesto.
The sheer speed on the men's start is an incredible scene to witness. An electrifying atmosphere in Nove Mesto.

Jaroslav Kulhavy means business today.
Jaroslav Kulhavy means business today.

Julien Absalon might not have taken the top spot but with a full season ahed where he ends up is anyone s guess.
Julien Absalon might not have taken the top spot, but with a full season ahead, where he ends up is anyone's guess.

Teeth clenched and pound up one of the long grinding climbs.
Teeth clenched and pound up one of the long grinding climbs.

Kulhavy takes a look back to asses the damage he was doing.
Kulhavy takes a look back to assess the damage he was doing.

Nino just couldn t keep it going today. Kulhavy went down but kept coming back swinging.
Nino just couldn't keep it going today. Kulhavy went down, but kept coming back swinging.

Manny Fumic entering the waterfall.
Manny Fumic entering the waterfall.

Czechs love beer. And all sorts of booze for that matter. Sanitary stops all over the forest.
Czechs love beer. And all sorts of booze for that matter. Sanitary stops all over the forest.

Another lap done another change of position. Nino Schurter tries to attack on the climb but Jaroslav Kulhavy followed.
Another lap done, another change of position. Nino Schurter tries to attack on the climb, but Jaroslav Kulhavy followed.

Nove Mesto s forest was absolutely packed with spectators. Schurter s cheered to the top.
Nove Mesto's forest was absolutely packed with spectators. Schurter's cheered to the top.

Julien Absalon rode to a respectable third place today.
Julien Absalon rode to a respectable third place today.

There is always encouragement in the woods of Nove Mesto.
There is always encouragement in the woods of Nove Mesto.

Nove Mesto XCO

There are MTB fans then there are Czech MTB fans. They are unlike any other.
There are MTB fans, then there are Czech MTB fans. They are unlike any other.

The rock garden in Nove Mesto provides plenty of different lines.
The rock garden in Nove Mesto provides plenty of different lines.

Ralph N f keeping it low.
Ralph Naef keeping it low.

A strong Matthias Fl ckiger going flat out in the descend.
A strong Matthias Fluckiger going flat out in the descent.

Jaroslav leads Schurter trails behind.
Jaroslav leads, Schurter trails behind.

Crazy crowds and riders who give them what they want. Hell yeah.
Crazy crowds and riders who give them what they want. Hell yeah.

Schurter and Kulhavy kept battling throughout the race. Schurter led most of the race untill he had to let go.
Schurter and Kulhavy kept battling throughout the race. Schurter led most of the race, untill he had to let go.

The sound machine.
The sound machine.

Kulhavy had the legs and the tactics to take the wind out of Schurter s sails. Nothing is sweeter than a win in front of the home crowd.
Kulhavy had the legs and the tactics to take the wind out of Schurter's sails. Nothing is sweeter than a win in front of the home crowd.

Eyes burning and gasping for air. That s when you know you left nothing in the tank. Mathias Fluckiger rode to fifth.
Eyes burning and gasping for air. That's when you know you left nothing in the tank. Mathias Fluckiger rode to fifth.

Mantecon and Hermida say sometimes it s a good race sometimes it s bad and some times you look for a modga. Or something like that.
Mantecon and Hermida say "sometimes it's a good race, sometimes it's bad and some times you look for a modga." Or something like that.

The loamy soil of Nove Mesto caked on the legs like concrete.
The loamy soil of Nove Mesto caked on the legs like concrete.



About the Photographers

Matthew Delorme • Age: 40 • Years Shooting: 8
Matthew DeLorme is just one of Pinkbike’s motley crew of World Cup photographers. He currently lives out of a Ogio bag, and calls the road his home. Delorme works for Trek Bicycle, covering their MTB racing programs. He can usually be found laying in the dirt trackside, cracking jokes and saying things that make little to no sense. He enjoys capturing accessory moments and the journey every bit as much as catching the action shot.

Irmo Keizer • Age: 36 • Years Shooting: 10
Irmo Keizer has been mountain biking since high school. Irmo loves nature, technical trails and landscapes and dislikes too many race lines and fire roads. Irmo has a strong passion for all sorts of mountain bike disciplines ranging from cross country, to enduro and downhill. Combining his passion of mountain biking and photography ten years ago, Irmo has been working as a photographer/editor in mountain biking ever since.


MENTIONS: @Specialized, @SCOTT-Sports, @Cannondale


Must Read This Week

57 Comments

  • + 185
 Pinkbike definitely needs to cover more cross country riding. They have started to do just that, and it is wonderful. XC haters suck.
  • + 68
 It's great to see Pinkbike covering more XC, the people have spoken, Pinkbike has listened!
  • + 27
 This and this^^. With XC courses moving away from the pavement and gravel roads and back to the dirt and rocks, this is mtb racing worth watching. Awesome.
  • + 4
 Yep, it is interesting! (I do not ride XC).
  • + 8
 Cheers guys. XC is rad.
  • + 3
 Yeah great pictures!! I wish there was a picture of the last lap, when Nino and Jaroslav were battling it out on a steep climb and Kulhavey was 'top-tube pushing' lol, hilarious. he wanted that win BAD!!
  • + 2
 Awesome pics. That rock garden looks savage!!
  • + 77
 Love the XC photo epics! Keep em coming!
  • + 16
 I know I'm biased but it's so awesome to have some top kiwi xc riders coming through!
  • + 13
 What a great time for Mountain Biking! EWS, 4X, XC and DH. Today was some of the best XC racing I've seen, making it an exciting start to another amazing season. Thanks for the great coverage PB.
  • + 12
 Watched the race today I want to see Neff in the EWS she clearly has some skill hitting that double none of the other women can do and many of the men struggle on.
  • + 1
 She shreds for sure. She demolished the Elite last year when she could still have competed in U23 if she had wanted to. I also think there are more new school, technically skilled rippers like her lurking in the U23 category, waiting to unleash the hurt on the Elite's old guard. Should be interesting.
  • + 8
 Amazing shots from a proper XC track!!! Thanks for the excellent coverage, PB! Hell of a race today. Was cheering for Nino the whole time and was a bit gutted for him when the broke on that climb, but man you gotta be happy for Kulhavy putting on a show like that for his countrymen. NINO, GET SOME PROPER MUD TIRES!!!! I was going crazy seeing him lose seconds on that techy climb EVERY. SINGLE. LAP.
  • + 2
 XC race tires and wet rock garden is no bueno!
  • + 1
 Yeah, Neff was rolling Rocket Rons which I think is a good choice. She Ran Muddy Marys in a previous race not long ago.
  • + 11
 Amazing coverage ! We need more of these !
  • + 10
 I wish pinkbike also make a videos of cross country
  • - 24
flag wakaba (May 24, 2015 at 23:11) (Below Threshold)
 yawn...
  • + 6
 It's funny how most XC tracks seem more gnarlier than some DH tracks
  • + 9
 Great coverage PB! I'm not big on XC, but that was porn. ; Don't know how they ride tech section w seat post so high!
  • + 5
 That was one great coverage Pinkbike! You guys can do it better than Bike Radar Big Grin

I want that trumpet for my Reverb... Then I saw someone running a Rocket Ron - on Xc race it's like running a Minion on Enduro race! I don't give a damn if those guys are running no droppers and no wide bars, but... those tyres in those conditions - They are Wizards! I give you sun salutations on my knees.
  • + 5
 its insane what these guys can do considering their seat is shoved up their ass
  • + 5
 Glad to see more XC race coverage.
  • + 4
 Great photos capturing all that is great about xc racing.
  • + 3
 Some jerk stole half of Dan Cooper's fork while the poor feller was rockin a piss!
  • + 3
 damn emily batty's got balls to wear foundation as it's an unbearable mess when sweaty.
  • + 4
 She kinda bores me. Like the pretty chick at the bar who gets all the attention and expects it. not saying she is that person...just my own biases.
  • + 3
 Amazing pics. I dare anyone to continue saying that XC is easy after seeing those shots!
  • + 3
 I really love this well-balanced mtb content PB is giving us!
  • + 2
 It's seriously impressive that Gun-Rita is still batteling it out at the the top!
  • + 2
 Yes yes Yes! Love the coverage and Giant photos! Great coverage, thanks for it.
  • + 2
 Sixth image down - Anton Cooper, not Dan Cooper. Getting us mixed up with the Aussies (Dan McConnell) again huh?
  • + 3
 That's what too many hours of frantic captioning and too little sleep do Smile . Thanks though, will change it.
  • + 3
 I completely understand - huge job, and you've shot some epic images! Thanks!
  • + 3
 Great coverage, for a great race. Huge crowds!
  • + 3
 Awesome xc coverage, more please.
  • + 3
 nice coverage guys!!!
  • + 2
 Carry on with the great coverage!!
  • + 2
 That photo of the guy blowing the horn
  • + 2
 Props to Matt and Irmo. The images are sick and tell a great story.
  • + 1
 Thanks, much appreciated!
  • + 2
 omg I just checked an article about xc riding and it was good
  • + 2
 Brilliant photos! kudos to all photographers out there.
  • + 2
 dat legs... womens XC is stunning.
  • + 1
 Awesome race for Jaro, he is a machine.. #excitedforXCO2
  • + 5
 Hell yeah he was. I was cheering for Nino, but every time Jaro dropped the hammer to catch up/lurch ahead I just had to give props. That dude is POWERFUL.
  • + 1
 And I am for Julien but this man had the legs to climb like a goat. racing in ABSA CAPE EPIC help him big time.
  • + 1
 Absolutely brilliant coverage! Nice one guys!
  • + 1
 Is that a male or a female holding the megaphone in the third pic down?
  • + 1
 That's a Gnome! I think they are asexual or maybe indiscernible.
  • + 1
 great Jaro!
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