Who's got the legs, lungs and lycra to claim the Overall?

It’s almost time for the race season to begin. If your passion is cross country or you intrigued enough to know a bit more about XCO, here’s who can win it overall.

>>> Five racers who could win the 2019 Enduro World Series

Kate Courtney achieving her career best result at the UCI XCO World Championships in Lenzerheide. photo: Redbull Content Pool

1. Kate Courtney

It’s fair to say that at the start of the 2018 season if you were a betting person then you probably wouldn’t have even considered Courtney for the world title. With a World Cup placings that reads 24th, 10th, 9th, 7th, 9th, 6th and 7th; first year Elite racer Courtney showed an upward turn in form but failed to deliver the really big result. This career defining result was to come at the World Championships when she hardly put a wheel wrong and dropped the competition to win solo by 47 seconds. Soon after this win Courtney would announce that she would be riding for Scott-SRAM in 2019. Putting both mens and womens rainbow bands on the same team. No doubt boosted by the result and also working with such a talent as Nino Schurter should give Courtney the base to put together a successful 2019 season.

Mathieu Van Der Poel and Nino Schurter perform at World Cup in La Bresse, France. Photo: Redbull Content Pool

2. Mathieu van der Poel

Mathieu is the progeny of one of the most successful Dutch cycling dynasties of recent times and this is evident in the raw natural talent he displays no matter the type of bike he swings a leg over. Most well known for cyclocross racing (he’s the current world champion), van der Poel has taken to proving he’s no one trick pony with a very successful foray into XC. Second overall in the World Cup overall rankings, he also grabbed a bronze at the world champs. A natural showman, he can often be seen with both wheels off the ground and is another rider that just seems to get a massive buzz our of racing.

We’ve got used to seeing this during 2018. But 2019 will be all new colours and no rainbow stripes for Neff. Photo: Redbull Content Pool

3. Jolanda Neff

The biggest news of the year for the 2017 world champion was a high profile move to Trek from her lower profile sponsor Kross. Neff proved time and time again that there is no other rider so adept at riding fast and smooth over the ever increasingly technical courses that make up modern XC racing. And on top of that skill, Jolanda often also looks like she’s having a whole bag of fun whilst doing it too.

On the podium for six out of the seven rounds, she took the top step on three occasions and looked to be favourite to retain her world title. A fourth place finish was not what was expected but surely will fire her up to try to get it back in 2019. Neff is however going to be spreading herself over mountain, cyclocross and road racing for the Trek-Segafredo team so it’s still unsure as to where her real focus will lie.

A slow start to 2018 cost Kerschbaumer in the overall rankings. Can he come to form quicker this year? Photo: Redbull Content Pool

4. Gerhard Kerschbaumer

Kerschbaumer has probably been pondering what could have been if only his 2018 campaign hadn’t started as such a slow burner. A 42nd place finish at the first round in Stellenbosch quickly followed by 39th and 20th place in the following two did nothing to indicate how on form the Italian could be. It soon became apparent with silver at his home round in Val di Sole. Some might have dismissed it as a one off but three more podium finishes, including a win over Schurter in the next race, soon silenced those voices. To top it off he went on to become runner up to Schurter at the world champs.

Nino Schurter. Pic: Michal Cerveny

5. Nino Schurter

Can the King be toppled? If 2018 was anything to go by his rivals might have finally found some chinks in his armour. An uncharacteristic defeat in the opening round gave a faint glimmer of hope but one that was quickly extinguished by a onslaught of victories. It was only Mont St Anne that saw Schurter ousted from the podium entirely after a broken chain saw him relegated to seventh. Despite this bit of bad luck Schurter would come back to win the final round of the World Cup and also seal an unprecedented seventh world title. It looks like the king still has more than a bit of fight left in him.