After a stellar start in Stellenbosch, this weekend sees the racers reach Albstadt, Germany
We can expect to see fireworks at the second round of the UCI World Cup XCO taking place at Albstadt, Germany this weekend.
How you should watch Albstadt World Cup XCO this weekend
- Coverage from 10:00am BST Sunday May 20th
- Watch on Red Bull TV
What’s Albstadt like?
Stellenbosch was about the spectacle of the man made features, Albstadt however, is a return to a more traditional and technical XCO course.
Based over a compact area, perfect for spectating, the Albstadt course packs in long, brutally steep climbs and technical descents. It’s this mix that will make bike selection critical this year.
Do you opt for the efficiency of a hardtail or the added confidence of full sus?
Three elite men to watch
1. Nino Schurter
Sure to be hurting from an uncharacteristic defeat, you can expect Nino to come out all guns blazing. Albstadt is a course that will suit his powerful style and tenacious climbing abilities.
2. Sam Gaze
His confidence will be at an all time high and Stellenbosch will have taught him that he can stay with Schurter’s devastating attacks. But will his flat out style be able to cope with the steep and twisty descents through the German forest?
3. Mathieu Van Der Poel
Not a name that many will be familiar with through XCO but if you follow cyclocross then you will know just how strong this young Dutchman is. Another power rider that will relish the brutality of the Albstadt course. He just needs to minimise the mistakes and he should improve on his last round fourth place.
Three elite women to watch
1. Yana Belomoina
2017’s overall World Cup winner. Belemoina missed the opening round as she was still recovering from a broken hip incurred in the autumn. Now fully fit and on the start list for Albstadt, we will be able to see how much form she has held. Having won here last year and despite not racing at this level so far in 2018 she still remains the hot favourite.
2. Jolanda Neff
Current world champion, Neff came a comfortable fourth at Stellenbosch. No mean feat when you consider the Swiss rider broke her collarbone just five weeks prior. By now she should be over any residual pain or issues and be back to her best for the rocky descents awaiting the racers.
3. Pauline Ferrand Prevot
Another rider coming back to form after a pretty dismal 2017 campaign thanks to illness and injury. Second place at Stellenbosch hints to her return to form. Not as much of a power climber as some of her rivals, her quick recovery and cyclocross background should play well with the unrelenting Albstadt course.
How it went down in Round1 at Stellenbosch
The 2018 UCI XCO World Cup started with an absolutely incendiary round down in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
While it was business as usual with the elite women, the elite men’s race brought a news we thought we’d never hear: Nino Schurter can be beaten.
A dry and dusty Stellenbosch course saw New Zealander Sam Gaze (Specialized Racing) achieve what many thought impossible and bested the almost untouchable Nino Schurter (Scott-SRAM) in an exciting, tense and nail-biting race that saw the two attacking each other like gladiators throughout the final laps.
Coming into the 2018 season on the back of a perfect 2017 that saw him win every round of the World Cup and winning the World Championships, nobody would have betted against Schurter reverting to business as usual. Gaze had the opposite start, almost non-existent throughout 2017 thanks to a recurring back injury meant his rivals were aware of the young Kiwi’s strength but unprepared for just how strong he started his 2018 campaign, as he blitzed the field and won the sprint to victory.
Frenchman Maxime Marotte finished a mere two seconds behind to take third.
Annika Langvald (Specialized Racing) made it four opening round wins in a row during the elite women’s race displaying a level of consistency unlike her rivals and gave Specialized the top spot in both categories. Keeping steady pressure on throughout the race it was only a slight mistake that handed the lead to Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Canyon) before Langvald retook the lead to solo to the line. Ann Tauber (CST Sandd American Eagle) completed the podium.
Britain’s Evie Richards (Trek Factory Racing) had an impressively strong start taking third in the U23 women’s race.