XC Race Highlights by Red Bull
Mathieu Van Der Poel will not be the World Cup Overall winner this year. That’s because he’s too good. He such a gifted cyclist that other bike disciplines are calling his name and he is after much loftier goals than to be crowned World Cup XC champion.
Road racing distracted him during the Spring Classics and he delivered one of the most stunning victories ever seen, pulling in an insurmountable breakaway by himself and outsprinting the field for the victory.
And now, in XC World Cup. He took on the field and one of the greatest XC racers today and in history, Nino Schurter. He took on Nino, in top form in his home soil of Switzerland and came away victorious. Mathieu and Nino left the field and then Mathieu soloed to victory. What is revealing in these victories is how precise and calculating Mathieu’s moves are. He seems to measure all the variables and minimize the chances of things going wrong. And when he makes his move, there is no answer. It is obvious he could win by a lot bigger time gap but he is after the highest probability of victory each time.
The most telling quote is Nino saying, “I’m happy with second place.” It’s as if he understands that he is witnessing a cycling talent bigger than him, bigger than World Cup XC.
In the women’s race, there was much more drama. And it wasn’t about Kate Courtney or the hometown hero Jolanda Neff, it was about Jenny Rissveds, a rider of the highest caliber, an Olympic champion. Shortly after she won the Olympics, she lost both of her grandfathers and she quit bike racing. Mystery surrounded this development and all the world could hope for was that she return to racing. Or return to a full life fueled by motivation and a zest for life.
This year, she returned to World Cup XC and she’s been steadily improving. But at this race, she crashed on the first lap. What commenced was a great comeback, a great victory, not just in this race but in this life.
“I have so much emotions after two years away,” said Rissveds. “Two years ago I didn’t want to be alive, so I just want to say that it is possible … never give up. I was so nervous before the start because I was in the front row [after finishing third in the XCC on Friday], and I think that is why I crashed in the first lap. The circle is complete; two years ago I won this same World Cup. It’s such a journey that I can’t believe it.”