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7 Things We Learned from the Nove Mesto XC World Cup 2024

May 27, 2024 at 11:42
by Sarah Moore  
Tom Pidcock soaking it in as he cruises towards the line. Utterly dominant.

1. Tom Pidcock is the new king of Nove Mesto.

Nino Schurter has won in Nove Mesto a record six times, in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018, but Tom Pidcock has never lost a race he's done here and has won the Elite World Cup XC race in the Czech Republic the last four years in a row with his wins in 2021, 2022, 2023, and 2024. He also won the U23 race in 2020. Despite his first row start after finishing 7th in Saturday's XCC, he didn't have a great start in the XCO and said in his post-race interview that the pace on the first lap felt more like the pace of an XCC than an XCO, but he was able to come through the field once again by mid-race to take the win by 32 seconds in the end.

Impressively, he said after the race in an interview that he'd only done one training session on the mountain bike before taking the win on the technical track. That didn't stop him from flying through the rock gardens and gapping the finish line bridge on his way to the line. Schurter said in his post-race interview that he was focused on Olympic selection this race and didn't want to blow up and so he backed off a touch after Pidcock's third attack, and so it will be interesting to see if the Swiss rider can find that next gear in Paris in two months time.

This was Pidcock's Ineos Grenadiers teammate Pauline Ferrand Prevot's third win on the track (2014, 2020, 2024), equaling Annika Langvad's hat trick of wins from 2016, 2017, and 2018.

It was another perfect weekend for the Ineos Grenadiers racing in their rainbow stripes from the last race they both competed in - the Glentress XC World Champs.

Nino Schurter eyeing another win on his tally.

2. Nino Schurter is going to his fifth Olympic Games alongside Mathias Flueckiger, Jolanda Neff and Alessandra Keller.

Just one hour after the end of the race in Nove Mesto, the Swiss Olympic committee made their selections for Paris 2024. With four Swiss men in the top ten in Nove Mesto, it was no easy decision. Nino Schurter started the season off with an eye infection, a crash, and his worst result of his career (35th) in Mairipora and a 6th place in Araxa. However, with his second place being the top Swiss result so far this year, sending him to Paris would have been an easy decision.

Who to send alongside him since Switzerland could only get two riders this time around, down from three in Tokyo, was a harder decision one can imagine. After the first two rounds in Brazil, it looked like his Scott-SRAM teammate Filippo Colombo would be a shoe-in, with his 3rd and 4th places, but an 18th in Nove Mesto ruined his Olympic dreams. Marcel Guerrini came back strong in Nove Mesto to take a third place behind Nino Schurter and my guess after the race was that he would be the second rider to be selected after that performance in addition to three top-4 finishes in a row at the end of the 2023 race season. However, he finished 48th at the first round in Brazil and skipped the second round with bronchitis and has yet to win an Elite XC World Cup race in his career.

In the end, it's silver medallist from Tokyo, Mathias Flueckiger, with his two 21st places from Brazil and a 6th place in Nove Mesto that will be joining Schurter at the Olympics this year. Last year, he took third in the overall, and never finished further back than 11th place with his World Cup finishes being 7th, 11th, 5th, 2nd, 1st, 9th, 4th, and 2nd.

On the women's side, Alessandra Keller was the clear leader with her 6th, 4th and 3rd place finishes. Gold medallist from Tokyo 2021, Jolanda Neff, will be making her way to Paris alongside Keller after her 5th and 6th places in Brazil, despite a disastrous 46th in Nove Mesto. Neither Tokyo silver medallist Sina Frei nor Tokyo bronze medallist Linda Indergand have been selected for Paris 2024. Frei finished 11th and 19th in Brazil and didn't compete in Nove Mesto after a finger injury while while Indergand has finished 20th, 10th and 11th so far this season.

Alessandra Keller made her intentions obvious.

3. XCC racing is the more dangerous format.

The 20-minute elbow-to elbow, high-paced XCC format has taken out two top female competitors in high-speed crashes already this year. In Araxa, Evie Richards crashed on the final jumps and she later announced that she suffered a concussion in the crash. Before the race in Nove Mesto she said on Instagram that she wouldn't be taking part in the race because "Being an athlete when you are so focused to be back at the top we always push harder, and with concussion it just doesn’t work. So by trying to be back for this race I think I slowed down my recovery and now I’m learning I just need to listen to my body and be patient."

Jenny Rissveds went down hard in Saturday's XCC in Nove Mesto and was unable to take the start in Sunday's XCO race. She looks to have injured her lip and had several stitches and we're hoping that she hasn't suffered a concussion in the high speed crash, but haven't heard confirmation.

While neither rider has to worry about Olympic selection since they're both the top riders in their countries, there is only two months left before the Games and we hope to see both riders back to top form in Paris.

France's Joshua Dubau is another casualty of the XCC format, breaking his elbow in Araxa.

Riley Amos is really getting that cork popping and champagne spraying dialled in 2024.
Isabella Holmgren takes the easy win.

4. It's worth paying attention to U23 XC World Cup results since many countries use them for Olympic selection.

All eyes might be on the Elite races, but many countries also have the U23 races in their selection criteria for the Paris Olympics. The criteria for making the Canadian team states that a Top 12 finisher in the Elite XCO at the 2023 World Championships or an Elite World Cup in Europe is prioritized over a Top 3 finisher in the U23 XCO at the 2023 World Championships or a UCI World Cup in Europe. Gunnar Holmgren took a career-best 8th place and looks to have secured Canada's sole male mountain bike spot at the 2024 Olympics.

However, no Elite Canadian women finished in the top 12 at the 2023 World Championships or a European World Cup. After Isabella Holmgren's win in the U23 race on Saturday, she became the forerunner for the Canadian women's Olympic team. Going into Sunday's race, Jenn Jackson had to finish 12th or higher to take Canada's one spot. She rode strong in the top 12 for the first half of the race, but went backwards in the second half of the race and compounded her fade with a mechanical

The criteria for selection for each country is different and you can see the selection criteria for the United States here. A major difference here with the Canadian selection criteria is that an Elite rider has to finish in the top five twice before being nominated to the 2024 Olympic Games Team.

Haley Batten and Savilia Blunk were able to secure two top five rankings, three in Batten's case, and therefore made that selection criteria. However, despite his Elite win in Mairipora, Christopher Blevins has not made the initial criteria outlined by USA Cycling since two U23 wins is ranked more highly than one Elite win.

Riley Amos has impressively won every U23 XC World Cup race he's taken part in this year. The 22-year old from Durango, Colorado has won all three World Cup XCC races and all three World Cup XCO races he's taken part in this year and will be representing the United States at the Olympics in Paris. It's impressive, but should two U23 wins rank higher than one Elite World Cup win? Regardless, the United States has secured enough points that they will be able to send two male and two female riders, unlike Canada which will just be able to send one rider from each category, and so we should see both Amos and Blevins on the line in Paris.

Victor Koretzky takes the XCC win on the charge to the line.

5. Victor Koretzky won the XCC on what looks like a Specialized Pathfinder gravel tire.

The Short Track race in Nove Mesto might not be one of the most technical courses we've seen and the weather held for the Elite races, but it's surprising to see a gravel tire in the mix at the start line. However, it looks like the 700x42 S-Works Pathfinder 2Bliss Ready tire is what race winner Victor Koretzky decided to race on. Although it could also be the 700x47 Pathfinder Pro 2Bliss Ready tire. Regardless, neither is a mountain bike specific tread.

While riders have to race on the same bike in the XCC as the XCO, what parts they hang on that frame can be completely changed overnight.

Schurter burnt all his matches trying to stay on Pidcock s wheel to no avail. Still his second place finish is not to be overlooked.

6. Nino Schurter now has 79 World Cup podiums.

With his second place in Nove Mesto, Nino Schurter secured his 79th World Cup podium. He's won 35 and now has finished second 27 times. During the broadcast, the announcers shared that he has a 61% success rate time of hitting the podium every time he takes to the start line in a World Cup XCO.

Puck Pieterse leads the pack around the tight bends in the lower half of the track. She d fight back from a fall sustained mid race and slot into the top five.

7. The favourites who missed round one all finished in the top ten.

Pauline Ferrand Prevot, Mona Mitterwallner, Puck Pieterse and Tom Pidcock all missed rounds one and two in Brazil for various reasons. Ferrand Prevot was focused on Olympic selection, Pieterse and Pidcock were racing on the road, while Mitterwallner was recovering from illness after Cape Epic.

All racers got back up to speed quickly at the Nove Mesto round with wins for Ferrand Prevot and Pidcock, a fourth place for Pieterse despite a crash in the Short Track, and a 7th place for Mitterwallner.

It was tight racing right until the end.

Other facts:
- We should see two athletes from Great Britain at the Olympics now, with the nation likely moving into the top 8 in the Nation Rankings with both Tom Pidcock and Charlie Aldridge taking lots of points in Nove Mesto with their podiums.
- Gunnar Holmgren had Canada's strongest male performance since 2019.
- Simon Andreassen was riding strong before a DNF. It looked like he had a broken dropper post.
- France's Mathis Azzaro started bib 55th and made his way through the pack to finish 5th and get his first Elite podium.
- Specialized Factory Racing women had an incredible weekend with podiums for Laura Stigger and Haley Batten. The men started off strong with a 1-2 in the XCC, but finished 20th, 29th and 26th in the XCO. Looking at Blevins and Vidaurre's Instagrams, it looks like there may have been illness amongst the team in Europe.

Author Info:
sarahmoore avatar

Member since Mar 30, 2011
1,473 articles

  • 61 1
 We also learned that Tom Pidcock had ridden his mountain bike once this year before winning the XCO. I share the same approach to training albeit with much less success.
  • 29 0
 Tom Pidcock:

eh up lads. not seen thee for a bit

2 hours later

cheers lads, see thee in paris. i’m off
  • 11 0
 Bit random, but good to see that on the men's podium each suspension fork manufacture was different and 4 of the 5 on the women's was too. Some 6 different manufactures milling around the top ten. Doesn't mean much I guess, but given the prominence of the fork from front tv/photo angles it nice to see a difference!
  • 7 0
 After much of the hypes surrounding the T-Type, it is good to see too that the podium for both men and women elites is dominated by the good old mechanical drivetrain (albeit only Shimano)
  • 14 3
 8. Front fenders are more scarce to find on bikes than even Whistler.

Surprised no one races with a lightweight front fender to keep a lot of that crap out of their face and eyes?
  • 8 1
 The weight of a new/clean fender wouldn't be much of a deterrent, the weight of the mud built up on it would.
  • 9 0
 @dlford: is there any difference between the weight of the mud accumulating on the fender or the rider?!
  • 1 1
 Because mud is going to get everywhere with ot without a front fender
  • 2 0
 @dlford: we used to spray Pam cooking spray on the Mx bike fenders right before a race and it works for about an hour or so
  • 3 2
 @laupe: Nonsense. A well placed fender really helps keeping certain area's much cleaner. Did you ever see a moto cross rider without fenders?
A front fender should be a no-brainer for XC racing whenever there is mud on the course.
  • 13 3
 I thought the race coverage of the elite mens race was fantastic. The 'In the field' reporting from Josh Carlson during the race provided great insight for those who've never witnessed a race in person. The speed at which they climb up the 'Whoopenberg' is truly astonishing. Also, enjoy the insight Avincini brings to the commentary from his years of rubbing shoulders with the racers.
  • 1 0
 There was too much interrupting and talking over each other for my taste. Made it difficult to hear what each was saying, headache inducng! lol
  • 10 0
 5. Victor Koretzky won the XCC on what looks like a Specialized Pathfinder gravel tire.
Those look like a 47mm? Pathfinder Pro to me, not an S-Works.
  • 4 0
 Good call. I'm not sure which one it is. I'll edit.
  • 1 0
 I believed he already rode gravel tires in XCC back when he was riding with Orbea with Michelin tires.
  • 8 0
 How crazy is it that the Swiss women's fields is so stacked that the silver and bronze medalists from Tokyo won't be going to Paris? Keller BEYOND deserves her spot - she's by far the most consistently excellent rider in the women's XCO today (double overall winner, anyone)? Neff will make her comeback too.
  • 8 1
 1. Tom did a job on them, Nino backed off to save himself where Tom rode home the next day and is going to do the TDF... Unless he crashes/gets a mechanical or tries to keep up with Pog too much in the mountains in the tour Tom should win the XC. Its great to see a riders doing grand tours to XC and how they compete. We need Tom in an Enduro to see how he gets on, think he hinted at a Dh at some point too!!! some boy and outside of the UK he isnt rated at all, especially on the road.
  • 8 0
 That's due to ignorance from roadies; being good at one discipline is hard enough.....but to be good at 3, is something else, and he doesn't get the plaudits he deserves......
  • 1 0
 Bring back Toshack.
  • 1 0
 @Starch-Anton: He already is good at 3 if you include CX, he can turn it on at those races too.
  • 2 0
 Tom is 14 years younger than Nino - Nino has done more than most will ever imagine possible and is still at the thick end. He goes home to his young family and doesnt have to think of training for 2 weeks of road racing before going to the olympics - he just thinks of the olympics. Tom's an amazing rider but I dont think he could really do DH at the competitive end of things - his forte is the power and endurance side. Be good to watch him in the TdF - I hope he goes for the GC and gets the support he needs.
  • 1 0
 @paulskibum: Tom knows that the yellow jersey is out of reach without Pogi having issues but it would be good to see Tom in the top 10 at the TDF.
Nino is legend and to still be up there after so long is incredible. The bonus he has is the likes of Tom, VP etc come and go from XC as it doesnt pay what the road pays. Most riders that are in a GT if they have the technical skills could be competitive at XC but the money is in road, even if the enjoyment is in XC!
  • 9 5
 The USA selection process is pretty screwed up. With limited male Elite racers to choose from - Blevins is generally the sole WC competitor in the Elites - they had to start to include the U23's. With Blevins last 2 race finishes, 22nd and 29th, the results are far from meeting the requirement to go to Paris. If you look at the top two U23 riders, Riley Amos and Bjorn Riley, they have finished 1,1,1 and 2,4,3 in the XCO events. With those finishes, it would make sense that the (2) U23 riders would get the spot. If Blevins is sick, this doesnt help matters either. Will be interesting to see how they make a decision.
  • 24 0
 yeah but maybe Riley would finish 30th as an elite and Blevins would blow the doors off at U23.
  • 7 0
 Disagree. Blevins has proven he can win at an elite level; he’s ideally suited to a machine built track like in Paris; and at a that level the U23 isn’t comparable to elites. That’s not to say that the two U23s we have repping USA aren’t absolute animals. Stoked for the future of XC here!
  • 3 1
 @bonjurns: I agree but it is the way that the USAC selection is written that causes this issue. It puts more emphasis on results, not what category they were gained from.
  • 1 1
 @tunnel-vision: don't disagree, although, the U23 lap times when there isnt wet weather involved are very similar to the Elites, but the Elites do one more lap. A last year top U23 is very close in times to the Elite category.
But as for selection process, the USAC one puts too much emphasis on the placing, no matter where it came from.
  • 5 1
 What a crap analysis. Blevins is obviously going to Paris and has a legit shot at a medal if he's on a really good day. Those u23 guys are good but can't match the top men in the world. Usac knows this
  • 1 0
 @borski99: just saying that the rules for how they are making selections is a bit screwed up.
  • 5 0
 @borski99: USAC has historically shown us that they don’t follow common sense or their own procedures.
  • 4 2
 Riley has beaten Chris at least once this year in head to head competition in a US based XCO race. I wouldn't say Chis is head and shoulders better than Riley.
  • 1 0
 @PapaStone: We need Riley, Blevins, and Keegan all to square off at Unbound this year. Winner goes to the Olympics.
  • 9 1
 Colombo and/or Guerrini got robbed.
  • 9 1
 Certainly Colombo.
  • 4 0
 Remembering that the Race King remains the fastest tire available, but still faster than most gravel and CX tires. www.bicyclerollingresistance.com/cx-gravel-reviews/specialized-pathfinder-pro-47
  • 5 0
 So good to see 2 Brits on the podium! Not so long ago, there was barely a Brit in the top 30
  • 1 0
 Yeah, it's a golden period for XC racing in the UK; Charlie is a future World Champion, having won the Junior & U23 titles.
However I'm not sure there's much talent behind them.....in both men's & women's.
  • 3 1
 Maybe 5 road riders out there that could survive a season of XCC/XCO without a season ending injury. Pidcock and MVDP have both had minor/major technical riding issues that nearly sidelined them as well.
  • 3 0
 Koretzky is most likely riding a 700 x 47mm Pathfinder Pro. The sworks casing is a darker tan, and that looks wider than 42.
  • 1 0
 Better view of the tire, maybe it is a 42, idk... www.instagram.com/p/C7ZRqYlIILA/?hl=en&img_index=3
  • 3 0
 @zahava: It's definitely a 47. Blevins posted it in one of his IG reels.
  • 2 0
 Novo !!
  • 1 0
 There are still options to watch for free!!!!
  • 15 15
 8. Ineos Grenadiers has GREAT drugs.
  • 1 0
 Pauline's forehead is looking almost as big as Cadel Evans..
  • 1 0
 @sevenoff: what does t his mean? Genuinely don't know
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