Get ready for a wet and wild weekend in Brazil
It’s been 17 years since the XC World Cup last went to Brazil, and the series has never taken place in Petropolis. Thankfully, the Trek Factory Racing XC squad won’t be caught completely off guard by a unique setting and course; Jolanda Neff, Evie Richards, Vlad Dascalu and Riley Amos have been there since last week, taking in their surroundings and having success in a C1 warmup race before the World Cup season kicks off in earnest.
Still, the unfamiliar, technical terrain combined with the nerves of a season opener should create a charged atmosphere, and a particularly stiff early test.
There’s no shortage of storylines among TFR riders. Is Neff a favorite? She sure looked the part by winning by six-plus minutes (!) on a similar course last weekend. How will Richards’ incredible momentum at the end of last season carry over? How about Dascalu and Amos making their debuts as full-time TFR riders? And don’t forget about Anton Cooper — the New Zealand and Oceania champion has been looking strong after suffering a broken wrist early in the year.
Need more intrigue? The forecast calls for storms. The riders who have been prepping in Brazil have gotten used to a fast, dusty track. This weekend, they may have to re-learn their lines on a sloppy and even more treacherous course layout.
It’s hard to imagine a more exciting debut race. Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the weekend.
Tight, twisting, technical and punishing. There is little respite on the 4.5-kilometer loop in Petropolis, especially if rain turns the dusty trail into a mud bath. Currently, off-and-on rain is expected from now through the end of the weekend, with Sunday afternoon, when the elite finals start, potentially receiving the brunt of the storms.
The track is plenty difficult without any additional help from mother nature. It features 200 meters of climbing that are primarily front-loaded into the loop, followed by twisting descents and big rock features that will put a pounding on riders. Most of the course is forested, leaving little room for passing, so staying technically vigilant will be of utmost importance.
Perhaps most intriguing is the several A- and B-line branches built into the course. Major turns often feature the option to take a shorter but more difficult fork over rocks and roots. If you’re wondering how Neff looked so dominant last weekend, look to her nearly unrivaled bike handling skills. If riders have downhill or enduro racing experience, it’ll come in handy this weekend.
The setting should make Sunday’s race a spectacle quite unlike anything we’ve seen recently in XC racing. This weekend’s race is not to be missed just for the sights alone.
How to watch
Red Bull TV will stream the broadcast, and once again it costs zero dollars to watch. Just click here!
Short track racing will take place on Friday beginning at 1:50 p.m. CT. On Sunday, the women’s elite XCO final will start at 9 a.m. CT, and will be followed by the men’s elite XCO final at 12:15 p.m. CT.
Want to know even more about this year's TFR XC squad?
- Read our team preview with performance liaison Tracy Moseley
- Watch our behind the scenes video from team camp, featuring new riders and a bike check with Evie Richards
- Read our story with Jolanda Neff about the team effort behind last year’s moments of individual glory
- Meet Vlad Dascalu, who broke out last year in 2021 with Trek-Pirelli