What did we learn: Nové Město na Moravě


What did we learn: Nové Město na Moravě

1 year ago

There are many venues around the world that can lay claim to hosting some scintillating racing over the years, but perhaps maybe none more so than Nové Město na Moravě in the Czech Republic. The track centred in the Vysocina Arena is a rider and fan favourite. What it lacks in sustained gradient it makes up for in relentlessness. 

It was a fitting venue then to host the opening Endurance rounds of this year’s UCI Mountain Bike World Series. Here’s a deep dive of some of the most interesting findings played out across the root-lined Czech hillside:

  1. Tom Pidcock is terrifying/irresistible in 2023

When the Ineos Grenadier’s Tom Pidcock told us that mountain bike racing, ‘was purely for fun’, at the start of the week the uninitiated may have doubted his conviction, but that would have been a mistake. The Briton hit home in the opening Cross-country Short Track race on Friday evening, beating and then out-sprinting Sam Gaze (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Luca Schwarzbauer (Canyon CLLCTV). That would have been impressive alone, but there was so much more to it. He only got the nod to race (due to a debated points technicality) a couple of hours beforehand having completed a three and a half hour road ride. He crossed the line stone last at the end of lap one before proceeding to tick off the world’s best Cross-country riders one by one before arriving at the front of the race. 

Joshua Dubau (Rockrider Ford Racing Team) may not have been who he would have predicted that he would have been battling it out with in the Cross-country Olympic race but the Frenchman arguably rode the better, more consistent race. Pidcock crashed out of the lead but fought his way back to the leader only to completely out gun him on the final lap. It remains to be seen how much more we’ll see of him on a mountain bike this season but one thing can be sure, when Pidcock is at a bike race, he’s by default one of the favourites.  

  1. Puck Pieterse is a star

Much of the media attention around the Alpecin-Deceuninck pit focused on the imposing figure of Sam Gaze. The reigning UCI Mountain Bike Cross-country Short Track World Champ almost didn’t start (due to the same points technicality which affected Pidcock). But in his not unimposing shadow was Holland’s Puck Pieterse. The 21 year-old wouldn’t remain in the shadows for long.

 Already a seasoned cyclocross veteran, the Dutchwoman took the race to Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Ineos Grenadiers) and time and time again came up with an answer for the veteran UCI World Champion’s questions. Pieterse powered home on the final lap and headed into the arena with an unassailable lead. It was a statement ride and one that cements her credentials as one of the best all-rounders in the world. 

  1. The Swiss stumbled (sort of)

For many seasons now, Switzerland has dominated the international Cross-country landscape like no other nation. Much of the pre-race hyperbole and column inches were devoted to how many of the top spots would be hoovered by the alpine nation, but it didn’t quite work out that way. 

Sina Frei (Specialized Racing) and Alessandra Keller (Thömus Maxon Swiss MTB Racing Team) took up two spots on the Cross-country Short Track podium. On the elite men’s roster, Mathias Flückiger (Thömus Maxon Swiss MTB Racing Team) and Nino Schurter (Scott SRAM MTB Racing Team) were fourth and fifth respectively but in the XCO only one space respectively would go to Switzerland - Schuter in third and Keller in fifth. That may seem decent enough but considering the depth of talent that the country has had over the years it was scant reward for the Swiss fans. They’ll be hoping for much more come the next round in Lenzerheide.  

  1. Joshua Dubau may just be the real deal 

As the world’s MTB press collectively shrugged and pretended to have known already that Joshua Dubau (Rockrider Ford Racing Team) was on for a good 2023 his team simply got on with celebrating wildly. 

 The 26 year-old from Reims rode a virtually faultless race, it was only the nuclear power station-reserves of energy of the mercurial Pidcock that proved too much for him on the final lap. Dubau’s metronomicity was only perhaps matched by his compatriot Pauline Ferrand-Prevot in the elite women’s Cross-country Olympic race. All eyes will be on the rider in dark green when the lights go out in Switzerland.  

  1. Laura Stigger is now a factor in the big leagues

Laura Stigger (Specialized Racing) had the sort of U23 career that many racers would give their right clipless pedal for. Now though, with her debut elite-level victory in the Cross-country Short Track on Friday night backed up by a top 20 finish in the Olympic distance she is a rider who, even if hiding in plain sight, needs to be taken seriously. 

  1. Evie Richards though…

The rider from Malvern in the UK has done a lot of work this off-season. The back injury which plagued her last couple of seasons has apparently been addressed. Her descending has been improved thanks to in no small part to the attentions of one Tracy Moseley. The speed the Trek Factory Racing rider was able to carry through the ferocious rocks of Nové Město na Moravě was nothing short of searing. And ultimately proved too much for her rear Pirelli to cope with. But, ignore that, the takeaway was that Evie is back! Expect her to be right in amongst it this season. 


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