Video: Big Jumps & Lots of Technical Sections - A First Look at the Brand New XC World Cup Course in Araxá

Apr 18, 2024 at 13:05
by Raphael Auclair  

Here is a lap on the course on the bike


And this is a track walk.

Author Info:
raphauclair avatar

Member since Sep 23, 2015
11 articles

71 Comments
  • 68 0
 This looks crazy fun for an XC race course. Looks like a lot of competitive line areas too where positions will be won / lost.
  • 27 0
 Now that's a course! The technical elements are getting well-deserved attention for making it fun to watch and rewarding a balance of skills and fitness, but the underappreciated element is the width. So many opportunities to pass!
  • 37 0
 Pink Bike, this looks like a track that might make for some interesting bike checks and analyses. Longer travel, dropper posts, more attention to suspension setup, tyre choice, inserts. Would love to see what the top 10 finishes are riding on.
  • 29 1
 PB crew is busy chasing Sea Weasels and drinking free beer.
  • 3 0
 I had the exact same thought. Hopefully someone will come up with something.
  • 32 0
 This is awesome. Love how xc has better represented mtb recently than the dirt roadies of the past.
  • 30 0
 This course is insane !!!
  • 14 3
 In the membrane.
  • 19 0
 Gnarlier than the sea Otter DH
  • 4 0
 @bigtim: insane in the brain!
  • 19 0
 The course looks like a ton-o-fun. Very different from the first stop. Much more natural and techie. I love the Wonderous Variety of the first two stop. The stronger technical riders are going to have a field day on this one. Two thumbs up to the Brazilian's who put these two stops together.
  • 18 0
 That's one of the best looking XC courses I've ever seen.
  • 15 0
 First xc track I've seen and thought " nah too gnarly for me"
  • 12 0
 This course is the pinkbikers weekend gnarly enduro shreeed! But on an XC bike.
  • 1 0
 @Muckal: without dropper
  • 11 1
 Now THAT is an XC course. SO much better than last weeks, and maybe one of the most fun I've seen in a long while.

I was asking about why there weren't any roots in the middle of the jungle for the last course, and someone said something about 'that's just how it is there', and I was like wtf, that makes no sense? This clearly shows that they can build the track without covering everything up and make it properly technical in places.
  • 12 0
 The 'that's just how it is there' is because the two cities are in completely different biomes (Cerrado and Atlantic Forest). You have no idea how diverse is the vegetation within regions in Brazil.

But yeah, they should've kept more natural features over there.
  • 13 0
 Man, I see why XC race bikes keep getting more travel
  • 10 0
 This is great!! I love seeing dudes in Lycra and shaved legs riding way faster on terrain guys around here use 150mm bikes and knee pads on. I’m guilty of it too lol
  • 10 0
 I like it. If this is the new XC i wonder what is Downcountry now. If it even exists... Slowduro?
  • 5 0
 Watched the course recon and wondering how they manage those features without at least a double down DHR2 with an insert on their enduro bikes haha. Course looks like its going to be a good watch, although, 1 main line will appear straight away.
  • 3 0
 Yeah, probably the main line will appear soon, but even the uphills are taped wide enough to make for some challenging race!
  • 6 0
 This makes some of the old school euro courses seem even more boring than before. The Pivot track walk was like a DH version with discussions on lines and dodgy features. Going to challenge a few riders.
  • 9 0
 Sick track!
  • 7 0
 That is as fun of a track as i have ever seen in my ten years of watching XCO, good job Brazil !
  • 1 0
 All we´ve heard here is that most of the rider´s said this is one of the best tracks they´ve been. From many people, one of the reponsibles is Valmor Hausmann.
  • 4 0
 Those pointy logs at 18:15 in the second video are going to be removed prior to the race, mark my words. Purchased them straight from a garden supply store probably but didn't cut the tips off. The risk of a crash and someone getting pierced through whatever body part is not worth it. Other than that, great course!
  • 3 0
 They already removed. I think they placed it there for visual purposes since the riders can (and will) easily jump that gap, but it's not safe at all.
  • 3 0
 @Hugou4BdaD: K, phew hahaha. That was cartoonishly dangerous.
  • 5 0
 I don't follow XC but are gap jumps and big berms normal for this style of racing?
  • 32 0
 It's becoming the norm. Difficult features will have an "A line" and "B line" - occasionally also a "C line" - with the easier options usually being a couple seconds slower. This design strategy functions perfectly on a few courses, with clearly visible effects of skill vs. fitness. There are never mandatory large gaps or drops, though many courses have mandatory steeps and slabs that are especially problematic in wet conditions.

Old-school XC racing was much less technical and the field was a mix of "real" mountain bikers and riders who could succeed purely on their engines, some of whom with technical skills no better than those of an average recreational rider. As you can see in the videos above, the skills of modern World Cup XC racers range from above average to way above average.

Modern courses are striking a good balance of being challenging enough to create time gaps due to differences in skill without being excessively dangerous.

Examples:

• Pauline Ferrand-Prévot may lose a couple dozen seconds per lap on a particularly technical course, which sometimes costs her a win, while sometimes she climbs well enough to compensate.
- Same was true for Loana Lecomte, but she's made impressive improvements in her technical skills.
- Ondřej Cink consistently loses a few places due to weaker technical skills.
• In the 2018 World Championships, Annika Langvad appeared to have the edge on Kate Courtney in fitness, but Courtney would make up the deficit in the technical sections, eventually forcing an error from Langvad that led to Courtney's win.
• Jolanda Neff was the only(?) woman to ride the A line in a dusty year at Val di Sole and was gaining about three to eight seconds per lap in just one corner over B line and C line riders.
• Titouan Carod and Jolanda Neff unquestionably won the Mont-Sainte-Anne XCO in 2022 due to their exceptional skills in the wet. Fitness made them contenders; skills made them winners.

Additional viewing:
Araxa course practice. Looks DH practice will all the line testing and bikes getting squashed!
Course preview for Val di Sole. Notice how Carter Woods, a particularly strong technical rider, pulls away from Jens Schuermans on every technical section. The aforementioned A/B/C choice is at 9:25.
  • 2 0
 @LarryTheLoafer Yes, since the turn of the Century when BMX sections became more common

@R-M-R: What do you mean by old school XC? Going back to the start of world wide competition (Grundig), courses had lots of natural hiking trails with off-camber greasy or marbly janky corners, logs to hop, snarls of roots (like Araxa), creek beds etc. The most important skills required were observed trials type skills (trials or speed trials was often part of stage racing). A low power rider with above average trials and cornering skills could finish mid-pack in a World Cup, and if you had both power and skills (like Tomac) you could dominate. Now you need both power and skills to not get lapped and pulled in the first three laps.
  • 9 0
 @taprider: Referring to the years when budgets started booming, so approximately mid- to late-90s, when we saw things like Miguel Martinez hoarding XTR rim brakes to save weight when V-brakes were introduced and most of the Sunn team replacing their fork internals with solid rods because the forks worked poorly and it was better to just save the weight than improve the forks (or go sponsor-incorrect). A rider on a fully rigid chassis with V-brakes and crap tires simply wouldn't have a hope of being competitive on a modern course.

I've ridden several of the courses and volunteered at races, including one that was considered among the most technical at the time, and I was fine on it with my fixed-height seatpost, 50 mm of front travel, rim brakes, 71° head-tube angle, 100 mm stem, and 1.9" tires with 70a compound rubber at 30 PSI. Some of the courses were mostly 4WD access roads and buff walking paths, with a few sections of moderate rocks and roots.

When attending races, there were several riders who were hopeless on technical sections; they just got off and ran as if it was a cyclocross race - for them, it pretty much was. And they were still competitive. Definitely cost them a few places, but there were several courses on which you could be competitive with little ability to actually mountain bike. To your point: yes, there was a time when exceptionally skilled riders could make up for mediocre (by elite standards) fitness. I maintain this is because the average skill level was poor at that time, while now every top-ten rider is a little to a lot more skilled than the riders we're likely to meet on our local trails. Also, bikes were so crap back then that it took a pretty good pilot to be highly competent and crashes were very common, so there was good reason to focus only on fitness. I remember several top pros saying they rarely rode their mountain bikes outside of mountain bike races because the quality of training was higher on the road. Of course road training is still an important part of a mountain biker's program, but not to that extent.

Another important difference is that the technical parts of old-school courses weren't especially fast. We would bounce - or run - along stretches of janky singletrack barely faster than trail running speeds. Modern courses require hitting much larger terrain features at much higher speeds.
  • 2 0
 @R-M-R: " In the 2018 World Championships......." That was Lenzerheide and every lap Annika was taking the B-Line around "The Rock". It cost her about 5-7 Seconds a lap. Because of that Kate was within striking distance when Annika slipped on the roots. If Annika had ridden "The Rock" she could have recovered from the stall out in the roots and still won the race.
  • 1 0
 @777MTBRider: Such a good race to watch!
  • 1 0
 @R-M-R: It broke my heart.
  • 5 0
 Dude leading out has legit skills and steez. Fun to watch.
  • 3 0
 Is it "technical" enough that no one is going to want to run that new Aspen?
  • 1 0
 The soil on this track is not for this type of tire. Too soft and very slippery when wet. I don't think trey're crazy enough to use it, but who knows?
  • 2 0
 Glass in the track surface is a bit concerning, but really fun looking course. Kudos.
  • 1 0
 What about the sharpened peeler poles? Are they going to bury them???
  • 3 0
 @777MTBRider: They removed it yesterday.
  • 1 0
 @Hugou4BdaD: Thank the Gods for that. If someone landed on the end of one and it flipped upward...... Nightmare in the making... Thanks for the update.
  • 3 0
 I might have to take up xc again! Looks amazing
  • 2 0
 This is a TRACK! XC usually takes place on courses. Look at this, it actually looks fun!
  • 2 0
 By far my favorite world cup xc track, can't wait to watch the highlights because I'm not paying, bring back redbull!
  • 3 0
 I'd need to be on an enduro bike for that one. lol
  • 1 0
 Being quite flat this Brazilian tracks but so artificially technical resembles a bit MX on pedals... which is frikin good too!
  • 1 0
 All we´ve heard here is that most of the rider´s said this is one of the best tracks they´ve been. From many people, one of the reponsibles is Valmor Hausmann.
  • 3 1
 He knows there's other shoes than Crocs, right?
  • 3 1
 Let a DH racer bomb down this track full send just for funzies, please!
  • 5 0
 Cannondale have an ex DH world cup racer on their staff... We need a Kenta lap.
  • 2 0
 The complainant would be 'Too peddly"
  • 2 0
 Sweet looking track, bringing back the creek gaps and dirt jumps to XC...
  • 3 0
 This is a sick track!
  • 2 0
 The section at 3:10 with the random rocks looks like a minefield
  • 1 0
 is this the year I finally start following XC? tracks like this are making an argument for it
  • 2 0
 That's way different from any xc course I've seen. This could be watched.
  • 1 0
 This is why worldcup XC bikes are now showing up with 120mm of travel and 66 HTA...but still running semi-slick tires...
  • 2 0
 Get Cathro there for a line choice video!
  • 2 0
 Yes. Great track!
  • 1 0
 Take notes NICA! You can have fun features and jumps on the race course!
  • 1 0
 Flyin’ spandies!
  • 1 0
 nice one!!!
  • 3 3
 Make golf great again!
  • 2 3
 I could've won this race a toddler and could hit those jumps fakie
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