The first round of the long-delayed 2020 World Cup XC Series is finally underway in Europe and will run through Sunday. The XCC (Short Track) event was held yesterday in wet weather, as can be seen in the Nove Mesto Instagram post shown above, but the main events are happening over the next few days. The first round of the Elite Men’s and Women’s XCO (Cross-Country Olympic) races takes place on Thursday, and the second round takes place on Sunday.
The winners of the first XCC (Short Track) round were Evie Richards of Great Britain and Jose Gerardo Ulloa Arevalo of Mexico. It was reportedly the first time a rider from Mexico has won any World Cup mountain bike event.
There will also be a second round of XCC (Short Track) racing this Friday.
In looking over the results of the Short Track races, we could see that American Kate Courtney (the 2018 UCI XCO World Champion and 2019 World Cup champion) took fifth. Fellow Americans Erin Huck and Keegan Swenson (who have both been—or are, in Keegan’s case—U.S. National Champions) were also on hand. Huck finished 21st in the women’s XCC event, and Swenson finished 36th in the men’s race.
Switzerland’s Nino Schurter (the eight-time Elite Men’s XCO World Champion and seven-time World Cup champion), was present, but, as usual, he didn’t seem too concerned about a high finish in the Short Track race. According to observers who saw the race, it looked like Nino and his bike got tangled up in one of the corners with some other riders. Some people claimed that he crashed and hit the pavement, but others thought that he didn’t. In any event, Nino was slowed down by the mishap, and he then apparently chose to save his energy for the upcoming XCO event on Thursday rather than try to work his way back up to the front of the pack. The main advantage of a high-placing finish in an XCC race is that the top finishers get to choose their own starting places, beginning with the first row, in the upcoming (and more important) XCO race.
Noticeably absent from the Nove Meso XCC (Short Track) lineup on Tuesday was Canyon’s Mathieu van der Poel, who won five of the World Cup Short Track races last year, along with three of the full-length XCO races (five more XCC wins and one more XCO win than Nino scored last year), putting MVDP second in the final Elite Men’s XCO World Cup rankings for last year, right behind Nino Schurter. Van der Poel did not race the full World Cup series or the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in 2019, so that he could concentrate on some of the key road bike events last year. Van der Poel is considered one of the top road cyclists in the world, and he’s supposed to be racing the Giro d’ Italia this weekend—one of the biggest road racing events in the world. Van der Poel did not race in the Tour de France this year. Nevertheless, Eddie Merckx, who won that event five times has reportedly said that he expects Van der Poel will win the Tour de France in the future. Some of history’s greatest road cyclists have said that they expect Van der Poel will be numbered among them by the time his career comes to an end.
Below are the scheduled start times of the World Cup Cross-Country Olympic races in Nove Mesto. Bear in mind that these are the starting times in Nove Mesto, in the Czech Republic, in Europe. The below-listed times are six hours ahead of the times in New York City and nine hours ahead of the times in Los Angeles, California.
You can watch the XCO events as they happen on Thursday and Sunday on Red Bull TV. The coverage of the Elite Women’s race can be seen to start at 3:20 AM on Red Bull Television this Thursday morning in California, and 6:20 AM in New York . The men’s XCO race starts 3-1/2 hours after the start of the women’s race.