XC World Cup Nove Mesto 2024

After skipping the opening two rounds of the 2024 UCI World Cup XCO race season, Pauline Ferrand Prevot and Thomas Pidcock, came out swinging in the first round of the 2024 series to be held on European soil, the Czech classic Nove Mesto. It’s got a bit of everything: punishing climbs, a nice mix of man-made and natural technical features, and challenging descents, all liberally spiced with roots and rocks. It’s a technical puzzle that’s always tricky to solve. “There are so many lines,” said Pidcock after his race, “I don’t think I ever rode the same line twice.”

As with all modern era World Cup XC mountain bike events, there’s a short track (XCC) event before the Olympic length cross country event (XCO) that sets the start grid for the XCO; a top 8 placement in this 20 minute battle equals a front row start for XCO, a critical benefit. Additionally, racers must use the same bike for both races, so riding XCC on a sprint friendly hardtail and then XCO on a bump eating full suspension rig isn’t an option. Consequently, both Ineos Grenadiers riders selected their full-suspension Pinarello Dogma bikes. And both riders delivered, with PFP finishing second and Pidcock taking seventh.

The Women’s elite XCO race the next day saw PFP hit the gas hard on the start loop and never look back. By lap one the reigning World Champ had the front, and after greasing the first descent in the lead, it was her race to lose. By the end PFP was up by a minute, her SR SUNTOUR equipped full suspension bike giving her traction on the climbs, soaking up the descents, and letting her hammer the flats to maintain her lead. Afterwards she confessed that ,“I wanted to do the first downhill in front, so I just pushed from the start and then I just tried to maintain that speed.” Indeed.

While the women’s race was a foregone conclusion once PFP was off the front, Pidcock—even with a front row start—had no easy task. From the beginning the pace was insanely high, and as a consequence there was no dominant rider until the Brit threw down an attack midway through the third lap that was as nasty as a mouthful of sour milk. Only two riders could mark him, but the reigning World Champion tasted blood. One lap later he threw down yet another attack and simply walked away from the competition, finishing 32 seconds up, and marking his fourth elite XCO win in a row on this track—three using a SR SUNTOUR TACT equipped bike.

All in all, the Nove Mesto race was a beautiful season opener for the two reigning World Champions. With their dominant wins, both Ferrand Prevot and Pidcock have fired clear warning shots of their intentions for Paris.