As a former professional downhill rider, Claudio Caluori was never going to be a natural at cross country, especially in Vallnord where an altitude of over 2,000m brings a lack of oxygen.

In this course preview Claudio rides with Erin Huck, an American rider on the Scott cross country team with a very appropriate name for mountain biking. Claudio was hoping for a battle equivalent to Schurter vs Absalon, but it was probably more equivalent to Schurter vs… well, you or I.

To be fair to Caludio, he did have the chance to attack Huck when she fell off on one of the descents but he did the honourable thing and let her recover. He must have been watching too much of the Vuelta that rolled through Vallnord on Wednesday.

Claudio XCO preview 2

For once it wasn’t Claudio going down

The World Championships’ cross country course has been criticised for a lack of technicality, but it looks steep enough to still trouble the field and even Huck got out of breath just riding with Claudio. The latter half of the track merges into the XC Eliminator course so there could be a strong possibility of an exciting sprint finish.

In the men’s race expect a battle of the titans between Schurter and Absalon, without any real technical descending, Schurter may be unable to exert the dominance he achieved in the latter half of the season. Jolanda Neff will be favourite for the women’s race but has been prone to race-ruining crashes in the past.

You can watch the race live on Red Bull TV on Saturday.