For 2023, the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup’s established formats of cross-country Olympic (XCO), cross-country short track (XCC) and downhill (DHI) are being joined by cross-country marathon (XCM), enduro (EDR) and E-enduro (E-EDR).
The curtain raises in March – with this week’s opening Enduro event in Tasmania (Australia), and runs right through to the final fixtures in Mont-Sainte-Anne (Canada), where XCO, XCC and DHI competitions will bring the curtain down on the season. In between, athletes will traverse Europe’s finest off-road tracks, courses and destinations.
While some races are standalone, others bring multiple formats together. One truly special event, in September, is to be hosted by France’s Haute-Savoie region across two back-to-back weekends for a 10-day festival. There, the XCO, XCC and DHI will be in Les Gets (which held the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships for the second time in 2022) while the XCM, EDR and E-EDR racing will be in nearby Châtel and Morzine.
UCI President David Lappartient said: “This area has repeatedly demonstrated its commitment to our sport, and with this major combined event we will again benefit from the fantastic organisation and enthusiastic welcome that characterises the region of Haute-Savoie, which will host our second UCI Cycling World Championships, in 2027.”
XCO: Who will beat the Swiss?
Racing in the XCO, which features at the Olympics, includes Elite and Under 23 categories for men and women. The first of eight XCO rounds will take place in Nové Mesto Na Moravĕ (Czech Republic) in May, followed by rounds in Lenzerheide (Switzerland), Leogang-Salzburgerland (Austria), Val di Sole Trentino (Italy), then, after pausing for the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships in Glentress, Scotland (Great Britain), it’s on to Pal Arinsal (Andorra), Les Gets, and Snowshoe (USA) before reaching its climax in Mont-Sainte-Anne.
Will current Men Elite overall UCI World Cup winner Nino Schurter add to his unique tally of eight titles? And could his Swiss compatriot Alessandra Keller consolidate her first overall title, when her late 2022 season change saw her overtake early leader Rebecca McConnell (AUS)?
XCC: fast and furious
The UCI Mountain Bike World Cup includes XCC racing for Elite riders as well as, since 2022, Under 23 categories. The rounds mirror those of the XCO schedule. Could anyone repeat Keller’s amazing double of XCO and XCC titles? And can Alan Hatherly (RSA) defend the crown his consistent point-scoring earned him?
XCM: mile-munching masters
The four-round XCM competition will see the first ever UCI Mountain Bike World Cup winners crowned in the Men Elite and Women Elite categories. In this hugely demanding form, courses cover around 100km, usually on laps in mixed mountainous terrain. This year’s XCM calendar starts at Nové Mesto Na Moravĕ in early June, followed by Finale Ligure’s Finale Outdoor Region (Italy) and Châtel/Morzine, culminating in Snowshoe (USA) in late September.
Could multi-disciplinary legend Pauline Ferrand-Prévot back up her 2022 XCM UCI World Champion’s title? The Frenchwoman took the rainbow jersey in a sprint from Britain’s Annie Last and Switzerland’s Jolanda Neff in Haderslev (Denmark). And the same day, New Zealand’s Sam Gaze rode away from Andreas Seewald (GER) and home rider Simon Andreassen… what will 2023 bring?
EDR & E-EDR: new sister disciplines
Along with XCM, also new to the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup are the exciting sister disciplines of enduro and E-enduro. Each are competed at Men Elite and Women Elite level as a series of one-day events employing a points system for timed Special Stages. An overall points classification dictates the order for the last Special Stage; the rider with the most points going last.
EDR starts the party with two back-to-back rounds in Tasmania while, E-EDR kicks off in the famous enduro venue, Finale Outdoor Region . Next it’s both disciplines at Leogang-Salzburgerlandthen Val di Fassa Trentino (Italy), and alongside the DHI at Loudenvielle-Peyragudes (France) before joining the extravaganza in Haute-Savoie.
Names to look out for are the top three women and men from the 2022 Enduro World Series: Isabeau Courdurier, Morgane Charre (both FRA) and Harriet Harnden (GBR) took the honours in the women’s series, while the most consistent men were Jesse Melamed (CAN), Richie Rude (USA) and Martin Maes (BEL).
DHI: daredevil descenders
The downhill competition of the 2023 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup drops into action at Lenzerheide (Switzerland) in June. From there Men and Women, Junior and Elite, will compete against the clock on seven of the world’s steepest, gnarliest tracks, from Val di Sole’s Black Snake to Mont-Sainte-Anne’s relentless four-minute bike-smashing descent.
Can last year’s Elite overall winners Amaury Pierron (FRA) and Camille Balanche (SUI) defend their titles against top class fields, and who will impress in the under-18s?
With new race organisers and media partners, worldwide viewers should see more of the action with, amongst other innovations, a new semi-final in each round, featuring the top 60 Men Elite and top 15 Women Elite from qualifying.
More information about the season of racing can be found here.