The world's best cross-country racers came to the Tweed Valley at the weekend chasing rainbows, and what a show they put on. Here are a few things we noticed
**Spoiler alert** If you haven’t watched the racing and don’t want to know the result, click away now. If you want to know how to watch the World Champs this year, check out this article (you can still watch the XC and DH on replay).
#1 Hardtails (still) rule. Last year Ineos Grenadiers riders didn’t even have an official bike to race on – Tom Pidcock rode a blacked-out BMC Fourstroke, while Pauline Ferrand-Prevot wasn’t actually on the Ineos team last season, ironically riding for BMC. This year the chemical giant-backed super team has an embarrassment of riches available to its riders from sponsor Pinarello. And as she did last year in Les Gets, PFP ploughed a somewhat lonely furrow in choosing to ride a hardtail. Specifically the brand new and quirkily asymmetric Pinarello Dogma XC. While the jury’s out on the looks, the lack of rear suspension didn’t hurt PFP’s performance and she absolutely dominated the race to win by well over a minute from compatriot Loana Lecomte. It might even have been even more if she’d not taken the B-line on a few occasions around some of the features.
#2 Wait… Actually full-sus is king! In the men’s race, the consensus was that full-sus was fastest (or maybe just more marketable) and we didn’t spot any riders (certainly among the sharp end) racing on a hardtail. For Tom Pidcock that meant Pinarello’s other Dogma XC with 90mm of rear suspension.
#3 Right turns crush rainbow dreams. Off-camber right hand corners are making a habit of disrupting World Championship bids. Last year in Les Gets Nino Schurter crashed on one, although it didn’t stop him winning the race. And earlier in the event, on the rain-soaked streets of Glasgow, Mathieu van der Poel slid out and into the barriers, damaging his Shimano BOA shoe, while leading the road race. Again this didn’t effect the result of the race, and he went on to claim the rainbow jersey. But in Glentress, he’d obviously played all of his jokers, because a loose, off-camber turn onto the start-finish straight put an end to his dreams of winning the full-house of rainbow stripes in one year (he also won the 2023 Cyclo-cross World Championships). What must be all the more galling for MvdP is that he’d made a fantastic start, working his way up from a poor grid position to 15th when the incident happened (Pidock was 33rd at this point). That grid position itself the source of much controversy thanks to the UCI choosing to promote superstars Pidcock, MvdP and Peter Sagan on a whim to improve the chances of an exciting race. Pidcock distanced himself from this move, pointing out that he sacrificed weeks of Tour De France preparation to race (and win) early MTB World Cups to secure UCI points and improve his grid position for Worlds. Other MTB specialists were even more vociferous with their displeasure at such random, eleventh hour favouritism.
#4 Everyone needs a super fan. First there was ex-World DH Champion Tracy Moseley cheering on Evie Richards from the sidelines as she rode to a solid 6th place. Then Evie swapped her Red Bull helmet and GB kit for a bucket hat and a Union Flag, and sprinted up one of the climbs bellowing encouragement at Tom Pidcock. That’s got to be worth a few extra watts, surely?
#5 It sucks when you get the wrong order at the drive-thru. We’ve all been there; you’re in a busy queue for the drive-thru, you’re tired and hungry, and the staff bring you a bacon and egg muffin, instead of a sausage and egg muffin. It’s annoying, right? But, what you don’t do is have a massive tantrum and take it out on the server. Unless you’re Victor Koretzky who had a massive McEnroe moment through the pits at the end of the 4th lap when his team helper offered up a gel. Plainly it wasn’t what Victor had ordered and it got thrown furiously on the floor, all captured by the TV cameras, and repeated in slow-motion for maximum effect.