Albstadt XCO World Cup Recap | Presented by SHIMANO

Kate Courtney and Mathias Flückiger win the muddy season opener in Germany

The fans love MvdP.

The USA’s Kate Courtney and Switzerland’s Mathias Fluckiger took their respective elite class victories at the first round of the Mercedes-Benz UCI XCO World Cup in Albstadt, Germany.


Elite Women’s Race

In the women’s race, reigning overall title holder Jolanda Neff took the early lead with Kate Courtney glued to her wheel. At about 5 minutes into the race Courtney moved to the front and began to apply the pressure which resulted in an uncharacteristic crash from Neff who lost about 10 seconds in the process. Courtney continued to grind away through the slick conditions for the next 2 laps distancing herself from the now mostly stretched out pack. A front wheel wash-out on a wooden bridge nearly ended the day for Courtney as she tumbled down a slope and lost around 15 seconds in the process.

Yana Belomoina performs at UCI XCO World Cup in Albstadt, Germany on May 19th, 2019 // Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool // AP-1ZCT7RD2D1W11 // Usage for editorial use only // Please go to www.redbullcontentpool.com for further information. //
Yana Belomoina rallied from 41st at the start to make it onto the podium – simply phenomenal.

Dutch women Anne Tauber moved up into 2nd place with some fast descending and good overall speed. A big crash on the penultimate lap broke her rhythm somewhat and a resurging Neff moved by Tauber to reclaim 2nd position. The problems continued for Tauber as the Ukranian climber Yana Belomoina, who had rallied from 41st position at the start, was closing in fast. As Tauber bobbled on a rocky climb and need to dismount, Yana pushed by into 3rd position.

Jolanda Neff performs at UCI XCO World Cup in Albstadt, Germany on May 19th, 2019 // Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool // AP-1ZCT7XD6H1W11 // Usage for editorial use only // Please go to www.redbullcontentpool.com for further information. //
Jolanda Neff is without a doubt still the most exciting rider to watch. Her full gas attack mode on the climbs and descents is too cool.

At the head of the race, it was all Kate Courtney who celebrated her first Elite XC World Cup win and America’s first elite women’s win in 20 years. Neff crossed the line in second and the 2017 overall winner, Yana Belomoina claimed third.

Kate Courtney performs at UCI XCO World Cup in Albstadt, Germany on May 29th, 2019 // Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool // AP-1ZCT9QAGW1W11
Kate Courtney – the smile of a winner.

At the line, Courtney said: “It means everything, last year at the World Championships was a huge surprise and a sign that I could make it to the top. I am happy to start the season with a strong ride and hopefully, I can stay up near the front for the rest of the year. I hope to carry the momentum forward.”

South African’s Candice Lill, Cherie Redecker and Mariske Strauss placed 18th, 30th and 43rd respectively.

Anne Tauber, Jolanda Neff, Kate Courtney, Yana Belomoina, Anne Terpstra stand on the podium at UCI XCO World Cup in Albstadt, Germany on May 19th, 2019
Women’s podium, from left: Anne Tauber, Jolanda Neff, Kate Courtney, Yana Belomoina, Anne Terpstra.

Women’s XCO Overall Standings

1. Kate Courtney (USA) – 375 points
2. Jolanda Neff (Swiss) – 300 points
3. Anne Tauber (NED) – 200 points

Video: Elite Women’s Highlights


Elite Men’s Race

A torrential downpour turned the course into a little river. Slippery wet grass sections, slick rocks, and sloppy mud made the conditions some of the toughest the field has seen in years.

Mathieu Van der Poel performs at UCI XCO World Cup in Albstadt, Germany on May 29th, 2019
Mathieu Van der Poel squashes the bike down one of the slick descents.

The flying Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel lead the pack through the first turn and into the grassy fields before defending champion Nino Schurter attacked with teammate Lars Forster. The Swiss duo set an incredible pace pulling 18 seconds out of the chasing bunch.

In the first three laps the conditions deteriorated dramatically which resulted in many crashes. Lars Forster went down three times and was eventually carried out of the woods by medics. Van der Poel dropped down the field to 12th position, Avancini broke a spoke and Anton Cooper had a puncture. A laboring Nino yielded to a charging Flückiger and Sarrou.

Jordan Sarrou performs at UCI XCO World Cup in Albstadt, Germany on May 29th, 2019
Jordan Sarrou was one of the few riders on a full suspension bike which was perhaps suited to the muddy conditions on Sunday.

The last three laps was all Flückiger as he continued to charge hard up the climbs and stay upright on the incredibly slick rooty downhills to distance himself from eventual 2nd placed rider Jordan Sarrou. Van der Poel clawed his way back to claim 3rd place at the finish.

Mathias Fluckiger at the finish line of the 2019 UCI World Cup XCO race in Albstadt Germany on the 19th May 2019.
The Men’s Race winner Fluckiger was elated with his performance.

“It was really crazy! I had a lot of patience which was probably the key, I am so happy with this win.” – Mathias Flückiger

U23 World Champ Alan Hatherly (RSA) placed 37th in his first Elite outing.

Elite Men’s podium from left to right – Titouan Carod, Mathieu Van der Poel, Mathias Flueckiger, Jordan Sarrou, Florian Vogel.

Men’s XCO Overall Standings

  1. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) – 325 points
  2. Mathias Flückiger (Swiss) – 305 points
  3. Nino Schurter (Swiss) – 210 points

Video: Elite Men’s Highlights


The good, the bad and the ugly

The Good: Mathias Flückiger putting on a classy display of bike riding in challenging conditions to beat the best and claim another World Cup win for himself. He came through the pack, riding within his limits and won deservedly. Kate Courtney’s first World Cup win was also America’s first XCO victory since Alison Dunlap won in 1999! The World Champ rode at the front for almost the entire race and did the rainbow jersey proud. South African Candice Lill mixing it at the front of the Women’s field in the Short Track and the Main race.

The Bad: Seeing any rider being carried out of the woods by the medics is not great, especially when he is in the form of his life at the start of the season. Heal up Lars!

The Ugly: Awkwardly designed wooden bridges with wire mesh have no place on a race track. Granted they may have made the track more rideable this year, but wood is decidedly more unpredictable than mud in the wet. There were multiple horrendous crashes which could easily have ruined the season for many riders. Surely there is a better way….

Titouan Carod performs at UCI XCO World Cup in Albstadt, Germany on May 29th, 2019
Titouan Carod rides one of the many sketchy wooden berms.

Video: Friday’s Short Track Highlights


Images: Courtesy Red Bull & UCI

With thanks: Coolheat SA & Shimano


No comment yet, add your voice below!


Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment *
Name *
Email *
Website