7 talking points from the cross-country World Cup opener in Albstadt
Racing at the Mercedes-Benz UCI MTB Cross-Country World Cup opening round in Germany is done – catch up on what caught our attention in Albstadt here.
Racing returned to Red Bull TV with the first round of the cross-country UCI Mountain Bike World Cup. Eager to be back between the tape, the riders descended on Albstadt, Germany, to begin their season. If you missed any of the action you can watch it all again here:
Scroll down for things you might have missed from the opening round.
1. It was a mix of every season in Albstadt
Friday morning saw snow falling and chilly temperatures greet the UCI cohort as they took to the track for the first time. But the early slick and wet conditions were a far cry from the scorching sunshine and 30ºC temperatures for race day.
2. Tactics galore in the women’s short track
The field conserved energy around the opening laps until Lap 3, when Switzerland's Linda Indergand attacked and rode away from the pack. She was unchallenged until the last lap when Pauline Ferrand-Prévot drove a charge to close the gap on Indergand. As the duo turned into the final straight, it was Ferrand-Prévot who clinched the sprint finish.
Albstadt 2021 – Women's XCC finish
After the race Ferrand-Prévot said she hadn’t expected to have such a strong performance and had avoided attacking until the end to avoid having to battle the headwind on the long straights.
3. Mind games in the men’s short track
This being the first race where all the main contenders for the World Cup were competing together, there was quite a bit of peacocking on display. Several riders seemed to want to flex their muscles to show their form and condition was strong. Mathieu van der Poel was the first to show his strength, riding away from the pack on Lap 2 with relative ease.
At various points in the race, Henrique Avancini, Victor Koretzky and Mathias Flückiger all tried their luck in putting the power down at the front, while Nino Schurter was keen to show he had the ability to follow moves when the pace was upped at the front. Van der Poel flexed those muscles again on the last lap to easily win the race.
Albstadt 2021 – Men's XCC finish
4. Lots of new shiny kit and bikes
Good luck trying to spot your favourite rider in the opening round. With a flurry of team changes, sparkly new bikes and fresh kits, it's a whole new look for many riders. Some of our favourites from this weekend have to be: Henrique Avancini's golden helmet, Simon Andreassen's Cannondale, Emily Batty's fresh team kit, some very fancy wheels seen from Kate Courtney and Ghost Factory Racing and Tom Pidcock's set-up for his elite XCO debut.
5. The new Elite women are the ones to watch
21-year-old Loana Lecomte decided from the start lap that this would be her race. Leaving the established field behind, the strong climber powered her way around the Albstadt course. Fellow Frenchwoman Pauline Ferrand-Prévot tried to close the gap, but the damage had already been done by Lecomte who crossed the line 53 seconds ahead.
Women's XCO highlights from Albstadt
A few places back, we saw first-time elite rider Haley Batten take third place. The American rider had a debut race to remember as she overtook Kate Courtney (who placed fourth), showing that the talent coming up through the women’s rank is ready to take on the elite of the sport.
6. Tom Pidcock’s race within a race
Tom Pidcock had one objective in this race: to finish in the top 16. By doing that, he would be able to compete in the short-track race at Nové Město. The task for the U23 XCO World Champion would not be easy, however: he started on the 11th row due to not having any UCI ranking points of any note. From the off he put the hammer down and moved past other riders with ease. At the start of the third lap he actually led the race for a short time.
Understandably Pidcock did pay for those early efforts and he slipped back from the leading pack on the next lap. He eventually finished fifth, nursing his bike home on a slow puncture. All in all, a case of job done and then some.
7. Victor Koretzky took his first World Cup win
Victor Koretzky nipped past Nino Schurter in the closing stages of this race to lead out the sprint finish between the two and take the win in the men’s XCO race. The victory was set up by Koretzky in the laps before, where he had conserved his energy among the leading pack of riders in the rising heat of the Albstadt afternoon.
Albstadt 2021 – Men's XCO finish
While others blew up, he played a patient game. Koretzky never took the race on from the front, instead sitting behind other riders and benefitting from their slipstreams.
Not expending that energy meant he was fresh to ultimately put down the power in the closing stages of the last lap and fend off Schurter in the sprint to the line easily.