While it’s all too easy to get seduced by the big Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup stars and their success, here’s a look to the future with some names to watch out for in the cross-country Olympic (XCO), with some impressive performances in at U23 and Junior level in the recent National Championships around the world that herald international notoriety.
Of course, the emerging talent we identify won’t all drive through to success in the Elite ranks, but everyone who loves our sport wants to know that we can follow the trajectory of a potential star from their breakthrough moment into the light through to when they capitalize on their talent by hitting results in the leading classifications.
With the National Championships recently concluded in a number of countries, and with more to follow in the coming weekend, let’s highlight the performances of some of the young riders who are ready to shine!
In Spain’s Men’s U23 XCO, 20-year-old Jofre Cullell Estape showed his dominance, while among the chasers, David Campos is worth keeping an eye on – as is, in the Men Junior category, Carlos Canal Blanco, who put half a minute into the rest of the field. Rocio Del Alba Garcia Martinez headed the Women’s U23 field – repeating her win from 2018 - but with less than 14 seconds covering the top five. 17-year-old Lucia Gomez Andreu was more than a minute ahead of the field in her Junior age group.
Nearby in France at Alpe d’Huez, Antoine Philipp turned heads. In the Men U23 he put a minute of clear air between himself and two Absolute-Absalon riders, with Thomas Bonnet in second. If you’re looking for close drama rather than clear winners, check out the race in the French Women Junior, where the top three – led by Pasquine Vandermouten – were separated by less than a second and the top 10 by less than 6 seconds.
Meanwhile in Souto, Portugal, the young men showed their class with a strong performance from João Rocha some 42 seconds ahead of Carlos Salgueiro. Poland’s 18-year-old Piotr Krynski and 17-year-old Matylda Szczecinska are the names to watch! In The Netherlands, Mick Van Dijke beat the rest of the field by almost 52 seconds, as did his U23 opposite number in the Women category, Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado.
Switzerland’s Filippo Colombo beat the U23 field by more than 30 seconds – showing huge potential – while Sina Frei, already regularly succeeding in Elite competitions, put more than 2 minutes into the rest of the Women U23 field.
In Germany – this dates back to the championships in June – Simon Schneller won the Junior XCO, 22 seconds ahead of Niklas Schehl with Leon Reinhard Kaiser in third, while Ronja Eibl is the Women U23 to watch from Germany, riding to a much bigger margin over her rivals.
Winning the Italian Men’s U23 was Gioele De Cosmo, and one for your notebooks is 18-year-old Andreas Vittone, first in the Juniors. The Women U23 was won by Giorgia Marchet, ahead of 19-year-old Giada Specia, and in the Women Juniors, Nicole Pesseforged took an advantage of more than 1 minute. Watch these talented young riders!
It might not exactly be a revelation that Great Britain’s Thomas Pidcock is at the front of his field when it comes to riding a bike but guessing the format might be your bigger challenge. Winning by only a couple of seconds in the Men U23 XCO to the talented Sean Flynn and Cameron Orr tells you who to look out for here! Similarly, Women U23 winner Evie Richards has already established herself so we’re not exactly breaking news but Ffyon James and Holly McMahon being in close attendance speak volumes for their talent. Harriet Harnden’s 1:20 advantage in the Juniors suggests she is one to keep on your radar.
In the Canadian U23 Quinton Disera won the Men’s and Laurie Arseneault took a convincing victory while in the Juniors, Carter Woods took the Men’s by more than 1 min, and Emily Johnston smashed her category!
The full results for many other National Championships are ready to view here with more to follow this coming weekend, which will not only tell us who is on top of their game at country level, but show us who is emerging – who promises to be the future of our sport.