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The greatest names in today’s Mountain Bike dominated the Cross Country races that wrapped up an emotional WHOOP MTB World Series weekend in Trentino. Ninth victory in Val di Sole for Nino Schurter, third for Pauline Ferrand-Prèvot.

In an Olympic season, when everything is in perspective of the pursuit of the most coveted medals in sports, there’s always a moment of truth when the cards are revealed, and the real values come to the fore.

In Cross Country mountain biking, that moment has come in Val di Sole, with six weeks to go to Paris, in one of the greatest classics of the WHOOP UCI Mountain Bike World Series calendar. One of those races where a victory always means something extra.

On Sunday, June 16, Daolasa di Commezzadura witnessed a show of absolute cycling nobility, and the names of Val di Sole 2024 champions leave no room for doubt. Nino Schurter and Pauline Ferrand-Prèvot, the most successful athletes in the mountain bike world, set the record straight in Trentino, showing up alone – and with a considerable lead – on the finish line, and were able to take the time to enjoy the crowd of Val di Sole (20.000 entries over the weekend) roaring and cheering for them.

For Schurter, the tally of victories in Val di Sole rises to nine: two World Championships and seven World Cup rounds. For Ferrand-Prèvot it was the third victory on the Daolasa course. It could have been the last time for both, as the Swiss champion is motivated to crown an immense career with another Olympic medal, while the Frenchwoman will most likely focus on the road from 2025 onwards, hopefully with the Paris gold around her neck, the last major accolade that she lacks in an extraordinary off-road career. If it really was Nino and Pauline’s last dance in Val di Sole, for sure it was one to remember.

In every sports great’s career there is one event, one place, one race where he manages to raise the level to the point of becoming so dominant to be almost unbeatable. Val di Sole’s Cross Country course is to Nino Schurter what the Wimbledon court was to his illustrious compatriot Roger Federer. From this year, perhaps, even something more.

If Federer stopped at eight Wimbledon victories, Nino Schurter played his ninth symphony today. The Swiss made things clear from the beginning, with a rocket start that immediately left few in his wake, notably Hatherly (Cannondale), Sarrou (BMC) and Vidaurre (Specialized).

The effort by Azzaro (Decathlon) and Colombo (Scott-SRAM) brought a more numerous group of riders back over the leaders in lap 2, but in the following one another dig by Schurter opened a gap for good, with only Hatherly managing to hold up with him – at least at first. In lap 5, Hatherly passage in the feed zone was the moment in which the South African lost contact with Nino and would never get back to the leader.

Behind the top two, Braidot, Avondetto, Azzaro, Colombo, Guerrini, Forster and Sarrou battled for third place. Hatherly finished second, 8” behind Schurter, and the sprint for third place was won by Mathis Azzaro. Luca Braidot was fourth and Filippo Colombo fifth, 46” behind his compatriot and teammate Schurter, who was already celebrating his 36th birthday.

“I am thrilled, I love Val di Sole,” said Schurter. “The new course is interesting, physically very demanding, but at the same time it requires a sharp tactical approach. My plan was to make the race tough right from the start: to get off strong and keep the pace high throughout the race. Towards the middle of the race, I tried to save some energy, but I realized that I had to keep pushing to finalize my effort. At 38, it’s a privilege to still be at the front.”

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In the shiny Val di Sole morning, Pauline Ferrand-Prèvot put on a no-doubter in the Elite Women’s XC race: a pure and classy show of strength that saw her get clear from the rest already in the second out of six laps.

No one could contend the top prize to the World Champion today, as the Frenchwoman claimed her third career success in Trentino, the previous ones dating back to 2019 and 2022. After opening a small advantage together with Pieterse and Lecomte early on, the INEOS Grenadiers rider took off with a progression that left no way out for the competition. The rest was a solo performance by the World Champion, a commanding performance just weeks before the Paris Olympic Games.

Puck Pieterse (Alpecin Deceuninck) was the closest to Ferrand-Prèvot on the day, but the winner of the Short Track on Friday and of last year’s Cross Country never looked able to cut down the gap to the leader, thus settling for second place at 52’’. Nevertheless, Pieterse will arguably be one of the biggest – if not the biggest – threat to Ferrand-Prevot’s quest for the Olympic title she still misses in her palmares.

“It wasn’t an easy one. I did three big days of training, so today I felt a little bit tired, but I managed to take the lead and stay in the front, so I am quite happy with that. I only had to focus on my own race and tempo and go as fast as I could. In every race building up for the Olympics I try to understand better where I stand compared to my opponents: it’s a long process, but I can’t wait for the Paris race”, said Ferrand-Prèvot.

Third place went to South African Candice Lill, sealing her career high with a regular performance in Val di Sole. Loana Lecomte (Canyon CLLCTV) and USA’s Savilia Blunk (Decathlon) completed the top-5.


1st. Pauline Ferrand Prevot: 1:21:04
2nd. Puck Pieterse: 1:21:54 // (+50)
3rd. Candice Lill: 1:22:17 // (+1:13)
4th. Loana Lecomte: 1:22:43 // (+1:39)
5th. Savilia Blunk: 1:22:54 // (+1:50)

1st. Nino Schurter: 1:18:25
2nd. Alan Hatherly: 1:18:32 // (+7)
3rd. Mathis Azzaro: 1:19:11 // (+46)
4th. Luca Braidot: 1:19:11 // (+46)
5th. Filippo Colombo: 1:19:11 // (+46)

Tue 18th Jun, 2024 @ 12:30 am

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