Schurter and Minnaar turn back the clock to win UCI MTB World Championships in Val di Sole

Nino Schurter leading the field at 2021 UCI Mountain Bike World Championship
Nino finding the line to another gold medal (Image: Red Bull Content Pool) (Image credit: Red Bull Content Pool)

Youth might have dominated the Tokyo Olympics, but the old guard hit back at Worlds this past weekend.

Hosted in terrific weather conditions, in Italy, the 2021 UCI mountain bike World Championships saw Nino Schurter and Greg Minnaar prove their status as the greatest XCO and Downhill riders of all time.

Val di Sole provided the ideal venue with technically challenging tracks, that delivered a true riding test.

In the cross-country mountain biking event, the Swiss men did what their women managed in Tokyo – dominance. Schurter took his ninth World Championship gold medal, after a slightly disappointing showing in Tokyo.

The Swiss sprint and endurance mountain biking legend showed power and typical descending poise to roll home fractionally ahead of countryman, Mathias Flueckiger. Switzerland's gold and silver medalists were more than a minute ahead of third-place rider, Frenchman, Victor Koretzky.

With Schurter returning to the form that has seen him dominate mountain biking for more than a decade, there is every likelihood of the Swiss rider, possibly adding a tenth UCI World Championship to his Palmares, next year.


(Image credit: Red Bull Content Pool)

Fastest rider down the mountain - is also the oldest 

South Africa’s mercurial downhill mountain biking racer, Greg Minnaar did much the same in the men’s downhill event. Val di Sole served up a steep and rooty course, which humbled many riders.

For Minnaar, it was an opportunity to prove beyond any doubt, that he is the greatest downhill mountain biker of all time.

The tall South African, known for his impeccable bike control and style, had some uncharacteristically loose moments on his race run. This was telling and showed just how desperate Minnaar was for that fourth World Championship.

In the end, none of Minnaar’s competitors could best his time and the 39-year old was crowned World Champion in a universally celebrated and admired result.

Britain's Evie Richards rode a powerful race to deny the Swiss a win in the women’s XCO race and France’s Myriam Nicole took gold in the women’s downhill category.

In a double-header year of Olympics and World Championships, the old guard proved that there is little substitute for talent, experience and training discipline. 

Lance Branquinho
Freelance writer

Lance Branquinho is a Namibian-born journalist who graduated to mountain biking after injuries curtailed his trail running. He has a weakness for British steel hardtails, especially those which only run a single gear. As well as Bike Perfect, Lance has written for, and Cycling News.