Jolanda Neff during Stellenbosch practice
© Bartek Woliński
Bike

Join Rob Warner as he talks all things XCO in Stellenbosch

Rob Warner gathers the great and the good of the XCO mountain biking world to preview the 2018 UCI Cross-Country MTB World Cup season. Plus see the best practice photos from South Africa.
Written by Rajiv Desai
2 min readPublished on
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Everything is set fair for the opening round of the Mercedes Benz MTB World Cup in Stellenbosch tomorrow, March 10. Much has gone on during the XCO off-season. There's been the introduction of the Cross-country Short Track race (XCC) to the World Cup programme, while there's also been changes amongst team personnel, and some significant rider injuries to report.
Watch all these subjects and many more being discussed in our season-opening preview show presented by Rob Warner, and featuring a panel that includes Nino Schurter, Maja Włoszczowska and Bart Brentjens, in the video below.
World Cup Chatter – Stellenbosch
With South Africa's Stellenbosch course a new one, it's unfamiliar to many of those racing so every moment the riders have had chance, they've been on the course, finding the superior lines and testing bike setup.
Check below for the best photographs from practice over the last few days: 
Lea Davison rides during practice at Rd1 of the UCI XCO World Cup 2018 in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
Lea Davison descends on the Pick Up Sticks section of the course
Linda Indergand rides during practice at Rd1 of the 2018 UCI XCO World Cup in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
Focus from Linda Indergand on the sticks section
Jolanda Neff will take her place at the start in the Women's race, even though a week ago she wasn't considering participating due to breaking a collarbone in a cyclo-cross race in January.
Jolanda Neff takes a jump during practice at Rd1 of the UCI XCO World Cup 2018 in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
Jolanda Neff is still healing after breaking a collarbone
Specialized's Simon Andreassen suffered a massive crash while out riding in Stellenbosch last week, but he's not letting being very bruised and sore stop him from racing, and he took part in practice.
Simon Andreassen rides during practice at Rd1 of the UCI XCO World Cup 2018 in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
A remarkable recovery from Simon Andreassen to be riding
Had a great feeling on track today. Regarding myself, I really don't know what to expect, but I am just happy to be able to race
Simon Andreassen
Another man in the wars during the week was Julien Absalon. A fall on the track resulted in a wrist injury that will need to be strapped up for the race.
Julien Absalon rides during practice at Rd1 of the 2018 UCI XCO World Cup in Stellenbosh, South Africa.
New team and new colours for Julien Absalon
Last training is done, the wrist is ok, I will be on the start line
Julien Absalon
Nino Schurter is the overwhelming favourite to win the men's race. Schurter has trained and ridden in Stellenbosch during the winter for nearly 10 years. His main challengers, Mathieu van der Poel and Jaroslav Kulhavý, will have their work cut out to keep up with the Swiss man's pace.
Watch all the action from the Mercedes Benz UCI XCO World Cup LIVE from Stellenbosch on March 10 on Red Bull TV or on RedBull.com.
Part of this story

Mercedes-Benz UCI Cross-Country World Cup, RSA

South Africa returns to the Mercedes-Benz UCI …

South Africa

Simon Andreassen

Young Dane Simon Andreassen is one of the hottest …

DenmarkDenmark

Emily Batty

With mountain biking in her blood, Emily Batty is …

CanadaCanada

Kate Courtney

With a cross-country World Championship and …

United StatesUnited States

Pauline Ferrand-Prévot

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FranceFrance

Yana Belomoina

In a single season, Yana Belomoina went from …

UkraineUkraine