After the racing wrapped up in Val di Sole and the new World Champions received their rainbow stripes jerseys, racers have been making their way a couple of hundred kilometers north to Lenzerheide for the next round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup.
The Swiss mountain resort has become a regular stop on the circuit, with the last race taking place there in 2019. The year prior, it hosted the World Championships, where now-teammates Nino Schurter and Kate Courtney won titles in the XCO race.
It's another weekend for racers to regroup and possibly redeem themselves if Val di Sole didn't go how they wished. Swiss riders like Schurter and Olympic Champion Jolanda Neff will certainly have tons of home country support on the hill, too.
With three races remaining on the calendar, the race for the World Cup overall title will heat up. Currently, that contest is led by Loana Lecomte and Mathias Flückiger.
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Richards burst into the elite field in 2020 when she won two short track World Cup races, besting big names like Pauline Ferrand- Prévot. This year, the British rider has been more of a factor at the front of races, and she finally got her big win last week. After a second place in a photo finish sprint in the short track race, Richards rode away from the competition in the XCO race and into the rainbow stripes jersey.
Neff took the biggest victory of her career this year when she won gold in Tokyo. However, she didn't seem to have the legs at Worlds, finishing fourth in the XCO. In Lenzerheide, Swiss fans will no doubt show their support of the Olympic Champion racing in her home country.
Lecomte's season has gone from all-out domination to uncertainty. The French rider won all four of the first World Cup rounds only to pull out of the World Championships because of illness. Will she recover and be at the front of the race yet again?
Courtney has great memories of Lenzerheide, as this is where she won her World Championship title in 2018. The American rider has struggled to find that big win this season, but last week was at the front of the race in the opening laps before fading out of contention. This venue could boost her confidence though, and it's a home race for her Swiss Scott-SRAM team.
The race for the World Cup season overall title is about to heat up, with two races in America remaining after Lenzerheide. Ferrand-Prévot is sitting in second place behind Lecomte and is in striking distance to take the lead. We could see some great battles between the two French riders.
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Lots of ink has been spilled over whether or not Schurter could ever win a big race again. But last week he proved us all wrong, taking yet another World Championship victory. He is building momentum, and this week he is racing on home soil, which should give him a big confidence boost, too.
The other Swiss man to watch is Flückiger. He just couldn't ride Schurter off his wheel in Val di Sole but rode strong for second place. Will the fortunes be in his favor this week? The other thing to consider is that Flückiger leads the World Cup overall standings so he has extra motivation to put in a good ride.
Cink is trailing Flückiger in the overall standings and could jump into the lead depending on what happens. Cink has had terrible luck at both the Olympics and the World Championships, suffering mechanical issues at both races. If he keeps his form from earlier this year though he could end up on the podium again.
One rider we haven't heard about in a while is New Zealander Gaze. He's back in top form though, taking sixth in the Worlds short track race and 11th in the XCO. His form seems to be building so we could see the Alpecin-Fenix rider at the front of the race in Lenzerheide.
Koretzky is a rider who could sneak into the top-three in the overall contest. The Frenchman has the ability to earn more podiums, so we'll be watching to see how his form builds as the season comes to a close.