World Cup wrap up: Val di Sole

Schurter and Pieterse dominate cross-country whilst Goldstone claims first elite downhill win

Clock12:00, Monday 3rd July 2023
Nino Schurter (Scott SRAM) claimed a record-extending 35th World Cup victory

© UCI Mountain Bike World Series

Nino Schurter (Scott SRAM) claimed a record-extending 35th World Cup victory

Known as one of the most challenging venues on the UCI Mountain Bike World Series, both for cross-country and downhill, Val di Sole always promises exciting and difficult racing, and it certainly delivered this weekend.

From record-extending victories, to first-ever elite wins, the technical tracks in Trentino drew out the very best riders across all the disciplines, bringing wins for Nino Schurter, Puck Pieterse, Vali Höll and Jackson Goldstone. If you missed anything from the action-packed weekend in Italy, here’s how all the races shook out.

Remember, you can watch highlights and replays of all this weekend’s racing on GMBN Racing and GCN+.

Pieterse continues winning streak as Schurter extends record

Cross-country racing kicked off on Friday night with the short track, which delivered some explosive racing on the challenging Val di Sole course. In the women’s race, the finish was about as close as they come, culminating in a head-to-head sprint between Laura Stigger (Specialized Factory Racing) and Puck Pieterse (Alpecin-Deceuninck), with Stigger just edging it on the line. In the men’s, it was all together coming into the final lap, but emerging short track specialist Luca Schwarzbauer (Canyon CLLCTV) was not ready to risk it in a sprint, and rode off the front in the last half a lap to win his second XCC of the season.

After just missing out in the short track, Puck Pieterse was on the front of the race from the get-go in Sunday’s XCO, gradually riding the rest of the field off her wheel. An early flat for Jolanda Neff (Trek Factory Racing) took her out of contention, and it was Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (Ineos Grenadiers) who led the early chase and the gap was not huge for much of the race, but the Frenchwoman began to fade towards the end and Pieterse had a lead of a minute going into the final lap. She held on to the finish to win her third race in four rounds, whilst a consistent ride from Martina Berta (Santa Cruz Rockshox) earnt her second, and Rebecca Henderson (PMG Racing Team) finished third.

In the men’s race, it was explosive from very early on, with Nino Schurter (Scott SRAM Racing) and Alan Hatherly (Cannondale Factory Racing) attacking shortly after the start, before Schurter dropped the South African heading into the second half of the race. The Swiss world champion simply looked strongest on the difficult Italian course, and held off the chasing field to take his 35th World Cup win, further extending the record he broke last month. Schurter’s companion Mathias Flückiger (Thömus Maxon) had been distanced early on, but battled up through the field to finish second, whilst recently-crowned European champion Vlad Dascalu (Trek Factory Racing) claimed third after the likes of Schwarzbauer faded towards the finish.

Goldstone grabs first elite win

On the downhill track, it was a tough and eventful weekend on one of the most challenging courses on the calendar. Unsurprisingly, then, it was the very strongest and most skilled who emerged on top. In the women’s race, an early fast time by Jess Blewitt (GT Continental Factory Racing) looked like it could challenge for the top spot, but when Camille Balanche (Dorval AM Commencal) and Vali Höll (Rockshox Trek) took the course, they took chunks out of the Kiwi, and each other. Balanche set a time of 4:10 to claim second, but it was world champion Höll who tamed the Black Snake most effectively, going almost three seconds quicker than Balanche to take her second win in a row.

When the men hit the hill, it was Canadian joy on Canada Day as Jackson Goldstone (Santa Cruz Syndicate) took his first elite win, following in the footsteps of his junior rival Jordan Williams (Specialized Gravity) who won in Lenzerheide. Some rain in the middle of the day had scuppered some riders’ runs, but when it cleared up and the top contenders dropped in the times began to fall, with Goldstone setting a time which would prove unbeatable. Compatriot Finn Iles (Specialized Gravity) came closest, but was still just off Goldstone’s time and had to settle for second. Thibaut Daprela (Commencal Muc-Off) finished third, his best result of the season, whilst a mistake cost Loris Vergier (Trek Factory Racing) a spot in the top three.

Blöchlinger and Pedersen remain unbeaten

In the U23 cross-country races, it was a repeat of the last three rounds once again, with Ronja Blöchlinger (Liv Factory Racing) and Sofie Pedersen (Wilier-Pirelli Factory Racing) winning the short track and Olympic distance respectively, both completely unbeaten so far this season in each discipline. The XCO was the closest it’s been yet, with Pedersen away with Samara Maxwell (New Zealand) for much of the race and sprinting for the line, with the Dane taking the win.

In the men’s races, it was more Canadian success as Carter Woods (Giant Factory Off-Road) took double victories, winning both the short track and the XCO. It was a sprint to the line that earnt him the XCC win, but on Sunday he attacked solo to win 30 seconds ahead of Adrien Boichis (Trinity Racing), with Riley Amos (Trek Factory Racing) 14 seconds further adrift in third.

Big time gaps in junior downhill

In the first downhill race of the weekend, the junior women delivered some surprisingly big time gaps on what is usually a fast and tight course at Val di Sole. It was a dream debut for Sacha Earnest (KiwiDH), who ended up winning by 12 seconds in her first-ever World Cup, beating the last two rounds’ winners Erice van Leuven (Commencal Les Orres) and Lisa Bouladou.

The men’s race was much closer, and after a surprising string of results in the World Cups so far, finally one of the big favourites got his first win as Bodhi Kuhn (Trek Factory Racing) topped the podium with a time of 3:43, which would have been enough to edge into the top 10 of the elite field. It was disappointment for the USA’s Ryan Pinkerton, who crashed near the top but still held on to finish second, only a second down on Kuhn. Henri Kiefer (Canyon CLLCTV Pirelli) took third.

Next up

There’s a short break from World Cup racing in July, before the World Championships which will form part of the combined Glasgow Worlds. The downhill takes place from August 3 to 5, whilst the cross-country races will be the following weekend, August 8-12.

The UCI Mountain Bike World Series returns on August 24 as the downhill and cross-country racers head to Pas Arinsal, Andorra.

Remember, you can watch highlights and replays of all this weekend’s racing on GMBN Racing and GCN+.

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