Puck Pieterse becomes first Dutch woman to win MTB World Cup overall

Off-road star seals cross-country title in Snowshoe with one round remaining

Clock10:45, Monday 2nd October 2023
Puck Pieterse has worn the red and white leader's jersey since round 1 in Nové Město

© UCI Mountain Bike World Series

Puck Pieterse has worn the red and white leader's jersey since round 1 in Nové Město

Prodigious off-road talent Puck Pieterse (Alpecin-Deceuninck) made history on Sunday, sealing the overall cross-country title at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup and becoming the first female Dutch rider to ever achieve this.

There is still one round of the World Cup remaining, in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada, but Pieterse’s victory was mathematically confirmed when she finished sixth in the XCO race in Snowshoe, West Virginia.

“It’s crazy,” she said after the race on Sunday. "In my mind, I was constantly busy with the overall, so I’m really happy that it worked out.

“The team has supported me the full season. It’s crazy to have been able to wear the leader’s jersey from start to finish. It’s a dream season and I’m just really happy.”

This is only Pieterse’s first year racing in the elite field, having stepped up early from the U23 circuit, where she was not as dominant, just losing out to Line Burquier for the overall title in 2022.

The 21-year-old has won the XCO race at no fewer than three World Cups so far this season, and has never finished lower than seventh, an impressive consistency that has earned her enough points to take the overall title.

Pieterse currently leads ahead of Mona Mitterwallner (Cannondale Factory Racing) but the rest of the top five could all change in Mont-Sainte-Anne, with only small margins dividing the likes of Alessandra Keller (Thömus Maxon) and Laura Stigger (Specialized Factory Racing).

The men’s XCO title is not yet wrapped up, with everything still up for grabs in Canada.

Dutch domination in a new discipline

Despite being one of the most successful cycling nations, particularly in the women’s sport, no Dutch rider has won the overall World Cup title for nearly 30 years, since Bart Brentjens took the title in 1994. No female Dutch rider has ever won the overall.

With the likes of Pieterse, Mathieu van der Poel and Anna Terpstra, the Netherlands’ presence in cross-country is slowly growing, and Pieterse’s win is a big step forward for the sport in her home nation.

Perhaps importantly, Pieterse’s overall title and general success this season have earned her all-important Paris Olympics qualifying points, something that can be difficult for riders from such a small mountain biking nation.

Van der Poel, on the other hand, will have to pick up some strong World Cup results in 2024 if he wants to secure his spot in the men’s race in Paris.

After the mountain bike season wraps up, Pieterse is expected to swap one type of off-road bike for another as she returns to cyclo-cross for the winter, where she was one of the top riders in the 2022/23 season.

You can watch live coverage of the UCI World Cup in Mont-Sainte-Anne, as well as the upcoming cyclo-cross series, over on GCN+. As always, territory restrictions will apply.

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