All Roads Lead to ... Paris

XC World Cup Val di Sole / Crans Montana 2024

With the Czech Republic in the rear view mirror, Pauline Ferrand Prevot got set for La Dolce Vita: the World Cup race in Val di Sole, Italy, while Tom Pidcock sequestered himself in Andorra for some time at altitude.

Val Di Sole
A Ferrand-Prevot is a woman who lives to race. PFP already had a ticket to Paris in hand, but rather than ease up to train exclusively for the that, she opted for another World Cup battle before focusing on her Olympic preparations and had nearly a perfect weekend in Italy, coming home a close second in XCC, but then utterly dominating the XCO aboard her SR SUNTOUR equipped Pinerello Dogma, finishing 50 seconds up on her closest rival. La Dolce Vita indeed! Following that display in Trentino, Ferrand-Prevot stepped away from racing for some altitude training.

Crans Montana
With PFP undergoing some Olympic preparation, the Ineos Grenadiers’ other Olympic contender arrived in Crans Montana, Switzerland to test his legs on dirt once again before heading to the Tour de France. I’m not really sure how, exactly, Tom Pidcock does it. To the rest of the peloton he must seem like a bogeyman that team managers use to elicit more inspired training for their hapless charges. Even when things don’t go as planned, the Brit seems to find a way to snatch victory from the rest of the elites. Would the absolutely technical masterpiece of a track laid out in the high elevations of Crans Montana in the Swiss Alps be his undoing? Not only would the racers be fighting for oxygen, but the XCC and XCO tracks unveiled here were a dramatic uptick in technical skill required, with roots, off camber lines, steep chutes, and some intimidating rock gardens. Add in some torrential rain Friday night that completely saturated the track, and you’ve a recipe for an epic battle!

First lap miscues saw Pidcock living a nightmare on the first lap of a six lap affair: dead last and a host of hungry riders ahead of him. An incredibly high cadence at the front made Pidcock’s job that much harder but the Brit was just next level. By lap 2 he was in the lead group, and then he edged his way past the other contenders, claiming the win a scant two seconds up on a hard charging Julian Schelb, giving SR Suntour not one, but two podium places for the XCC, and the top steps at that.

Pidcock and Schelb’s 1-2 XCC finish meant two SR SUNTOUR riders on the front row for the men’s elite XCO event, the Brit on his TACT equipped Pinarello Dogma, the German aboard his analog equipped Berria Mako 6. From the start it was knives out, with everyone going full gas. The lead changed hands a fair bit on the start loop and first lap with Schelb in the mix on the front, but Pidcock was dangling back some ten riders or so. But by lap two on the treacherous track Pidcock had worked his way past Schelb and seized the lead. As the remaining laps unfolded, he simply extended his dominance. Even a mid race crash didn’t rattle him.

But Schelb’s race behind an untouchable Pidcock became very, very interesting. If he could secure a podium finish, he could lock down a coveted Olympic berth. What followed was a show of pure grit mixed with phenomenal bike handling as Schelb pushed the limits of traction and buried himself, fighting with three fellow German racers who were all vying for that potentially golden ticket. In that war of attrition Schelb came out on top, securing not only the final podium spot but also locking down a third Olympic spot for SR SUNTOUR. What a weekend for SR SUNTOUR: a perfect race for the TACT system under Tom Pidcock, and securing a third Olympic berth with Julian Schelb. Next stop? Paris!