Smiles all around as the pits in Nove Mesto na Moravě started filling up with all the teams, gathering from all over the world. The first get-together of all the world’s best mountain bikers, in the autumn of 2020 at one of mountain bikings’ absolute classics.


As the world continues to be in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, it had cast its shadow upon the mountain bike calendar. Up until the last day, some doubt would remain as infections in the Czech Republic were on a ride. The decision had been made to host the World Cup without spectators, a huge loss for an otherwise broiling venue, in its 10th anniversary year. Despite all these challenges, the organizers managed to pull of organizing the double World Cup event, with strict COVID measures in place. It did not have an impact on athletes. Everyone was extremely happy to race again. Some riders, including Anne Terpstra, got infected earlier this year and experienced the impact the decease has on fit individuals. Bubbles ensured the maximum amount of safety, with mandatory masks throughout the venue. Plus mandatory on-site COVID testing for the ones travelling to the World Championships in Leogang. Just to make sure the few races we have can take place this year.


Although the absence of crowds made for a strange sensation in an otherwise noisy and atmospheric forest and stadium, the chance to race made everyone smile. In the pits, teams and athletes could be seen talking about their year, catching up on bad- and good times. Although at a (social) distance, the bonds among athletes might have just become even stronger through these testing times. Some seemed fitter than ever, with a full year being dedicated on this one single moment. It would make racing more interesting and unpredictable as well. This year, there are very few chances to peak. This double World Cup, the World Championships and finally the European Championships. A condensed, tough, mini-racing season. Ever so important for everyone involved, from sponsors, to media, to athletes and their teams and organizers.

The XCC races displayed the eagerness of everyone to race. A muddy course was shredded by tires, as the women’s field battled for these front line starting places on the following day’s cross-country race. Close calls, great maneuvers and pure watts were on display. Evie Richards, the British power-house took the win in both XCC races. Sina Frei and Anne Terpstra secured front line finishes in both races. In the first cross country race on Thursday, Anne managed to loose Pauline Ferrand-Prevot in the final lap, taking second place. Sina Frei finished in 7th whilst Barbara Benko took 24th.

If you race, you know. You always want to do better. For the second XCO race within a week, Anne crossed the line in the final XCO race in second, 21 seconds behind Pauline Ferrand-Prevot. A solid achievement, but Anne felt she could have done better that day. Although she closed in on Ferrand-Prevot, she did not manage to close the gap. Sina rode to 8th place, Barbara Benko struggled and had to abandon the race as she did not feel well.

One week of racing in these times has honestly never felt that good. This year has been challenging for everyone of us and we find ourselves in a privileged position to race, in good health. Strong performances and good times being together as a team again. Our race bubble has two more big races to go. Motivation is high. Every single one of us will strive to do the best, for ourselves, the team and our sponsors. See you in Leogang.

Text: Irmo Keizer

Photos: Attention Builders


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