TFR will finally have a chance to show off their hard work in Albstadt. Here's everything you need to know
The second XC World Cup race of 2022 should feel refreshingly normal compared to the opener.
The racing at last April’s race in Petropolis, Brazil, was stunning, but a non-Covid illness tore through the Trek Factory Racing XC team, sidelining Evie Richards for the Olympic-distance race after taking third in short track, and forcing Jolanda Neff to miss the weekend altogether. On the men’s side, Anton Cooper missed the short track race before rallying to take 16th in XCO, while Vlad Dascalu held on for third despite feeling ill on the start line.
The team should be in much better shape for Round 2 in Albstadt.
TFR will be rolling into Albstadt with a full crew, led by the current World and Olympic champions — Richards and Neff, respectively. Cooper will be champing at the bit, too, after a strong result in Albstadt last year. And in the U23 races, Riley Amos, Maddie Munro and Hattie Harnden are all primed for big results.
Albstadt is a fast and familiar course for many of the riders who’ll be lining up. Expect a tooth-and-nail fight to turn the heat up on the World Cup season.
Three stories to follow
The lingering feeling from Brazil is a sense of what-could-have-been. Richards and Dascalu managed to secure podiums despite feeling ill. Neff was one of the heavy favorites for the technical course, having won a C1 race on a similar track by six-plus minutes (!) the week before. Only Amos rode out the weekend without much physical issue, but only because he was sick earlier in the week.
Throw in Munro and Harnden making their World Cup season debuts, and this week feels like TFR’s chance to properly get the year going.
It’s easy to forget, but Richards and Neff started their historic 2021 seasons inauspiciously. Richards finished 25th in Albstadt last year after entering the race confident in her form. Neff battled hay fever and took 13th in both short track and XCO. Both of their seasons greatly improved from there, and the cherry on top of their monumental accomplishments could be conquering Albstadt with big performances.
Amos, Munro and Harnden have all been busy preparing to throw down in the U23 fields. Amos already has one solid World Cup showing under his belt, taking fourth in Petropolis despite several small crashes. Meanwhile, Munro and Harnden have both been warming up on their domestic circuits. Munro had to battle a bug and the competition (we hope you’re sensing a theme) at the U.S. Cup recently, but still took sixth in the women’s elite XCO. Harnden is using XC racing to help her prepare for the enduro season, but as the reigning U23 British XC champ, she’s more than capable of making noise at the front of a World Cup.
All three riders relish the opportunity to upend any race they’re in, and do so with extreme enthusiasm. You’re going to love watching them race.
The Trek Supercaliber can truly do anything, and you’ll likely see it in action this weekend, as well as at every other XC World Cup race this year. But in Albstadt, we may see a few riders opt for the Procaliber, a purebred hardtail that will be well-suited for a track that is relatively smooth and a lot climbier compared to the rest of the racing slate.
That extra pedaling efficiency will come in handy on a course that features roughly 900 feet of climbing on each 2.5-mile lap. The race will be defined by two major climbs that hit gradients as high as 22 percent. The corresponding downhills are fast and windy, potentially rewarding supreme bike handlers like Neff.
Weather will be the X factor. If the course stays dry, expect a fast race that favors the snappiest climbers. If the course becomes muddy — and Albstadt is no stranger to rain — riders with pure power and downhill proficiency will benefit, widening the field of contenders. The forecast currently shows moist conditions for Sunday, setting up a potential free-for-all.
How to watch
Red Bull TV has you covered! As long as you have an internet connection and device that can stream video, you can watch the races for free. Just click right here.
Note that only elite racing is available for streaming. Check out the full weekend racing schedule below.
- Women’s elite XC short track — 5:30 p.m. local, 11:30 a.m. ET
- Men’s elite XC short track — est. 6:15 p.m. local, 12:15 p.m. ET
- Men’s junior XCO — 9:30 a.m. local, 3:30 a.m. ET
- Women’s junior XCO — est. 11:15 a.m. local, 5:15 a.m. ET
- Men’s U23 XCO — 3:30 p.m. local, 9:30 a.m. ET
- Women’s U23 XCO — est. 5 p.m. local, 11 a.m. ET
- Women’s elite XCO — Noon local, 5 a.m. ET
- Men’s elite XCO — 3:15 p.m. local, 8:15 a.m. ET