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MAY 24-26

Nové Město na Moravě 2024: A Meeting of Cycling Stars

Before the Olympic Games in Paris commence, the Nové Město na Moravě event will be the hottest Mountain Bike World Cup race of this season. Why is that? It will be immediately after the races in the Vysočina Arena that the qualification period is ended, which means that it is highly probable that the brightest of the MTB cycling stars will not be absent from the starting list. For them, it will be the last opportunity to increase the score for their national teams, present themselves to national team managers, and fight for being one of those to wear the national jersey in Paris.


The system of awarding places on the starting line to individual countries is complicated, and it is basically impossible to predict the names of 36 riders and countries that will fight for the Olympic gold in Paris. Or, it is clear for the first 19 countries in the Olympic UCI ranking, but there are more starting numbers at stake that are awarded based on even more complicated criteria that have not yet been explained in their entirety.


Let us not skip time, though, and leave France as it is in Nové Město na Moravě, where the most spectacular gathering of cycling stars since the World Championships in Glasgow last year may take place. In Scotland, we saw Tom Pidcock, Peter Sagan, Mathieu van der Poel and Nino Schurter, the shiniest star of the mountain bike universe, were starting together – and exactly the same would like to see the organizers in Nové Město na Moravě.


We will find out only before the actual start of the races if the aces of world cycling eventually find their way to the Vysočina Arena. However, the field for speculations is broad and free as one thing is for sure: all of them have earlier confirmed their interest in starting in the mountain bike race in Paris. However, if we take all of this into consideration, Nové Město is exactly where they should appear before the Olympic Games!


Nino Schurter is arriving at the Vysočina Arena, that is almost a sure thing. He has returned every year since 2011 when World Cup or World Championships event took place in the Czech Republic.  And with the Swiss having such fierce competition on the national team, Nino will want to secure his fifth appearance at the Olympics.

Tom Pidcock – the current Olympic champion – is sure to start in Paris; Great Britain has two places in the roster, and there is probably no better man to fight for the success of the UK team than Tom. He is a man of many cycling talents, after all. Besides that, he is a regular contender in Nové Město na Moravě, and he knows exactly what to expect from the Czech Republic. He has his favourite accommodation away from the crowds, he enjoys rambling through the Czech landscape, and he has been successful in Nové Město. So our money is on Tom Pidcock to start in Nové Město!


Our doubts with Mathieu van der Poel have been resolved a few days ago. The Dutch who became the world champion in cyclocross in Tábor in 2024, and recently got his second victory at the Paris – Roubaix, does not have good memories of the bike races of the last few years. First, he did not ride many of them and second, he did not finish many of them. He crashed in the first lap at the aforementioned World Championships in Glasgow! However, a few days ago, together with his team and coaches, he made a final decision - he decided to skip the Olympic mountain bike race in Paris 2024 and will only participate in the road race. Unfortunately, we will not see him in Nové Město na Morava this year.


However, Peter Sagan, the Slovakian superstars and a member of Specialized factory team should not be absent in NMNM. After all, is there any better place for his team American team to take him than an environment that is as close to being home as one can get? After having heart surgery, Peter started off with racing in a slow fashion – at a stage road race in Hungary. He should start in mountain bike races, though, albeit his participation in mountain bike races in Paris is more of a wishful thinking. Based on qualification criteria, he should not stand a chance. Yet it is possible that as Peter Sagan is such a megastar, he will be awarded a wild card from the UCI. And by the way: it was in 2016 that Peter raced for the last time on a mountain bike in the Czech Republic. Will he come back to Nové Město after eight years?


For the first time in this year’s season, all the world’s best ladies will be present at a race in Nové Město na Moravě that takes place at the end of May. The first two rounds of the World Cup in Brazil did not feature Pauline Ferrand Prevot (the short track and XC world champion), Puck Pieterse (the last year’s world cup champion) or Samara Maxwell of New Zealand, the shooting star of last season.


Vysočina Aréna will therefore be the first venue to welcome the world champion, European champion, Olympic medallists and the emerging generation of excellent riders that proved their lust for victories in Brazil.


What is it that fans of mountain bikes can be looking forward to? Puck Pieterse (Alpecin Deceuninck), the defendant of her last year’s victory in NMNM, might be the greatest challenger. Having taken the bronze at the Cyclocross World Championships in Tábor and starting in road cycling classics, she started her MTB season only recently. She skipped the first two World Cup races and sat on her MTB only at the end of May. She took the gold medal and defended her title from last year in her second race this year – XCO European Championships. The twenty-two-year-old Dutchwoman will want to start off well in the World Cup, and we put our money on her being high in the ranking.


The debut in the 2024 season is in Nové Město expected from Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Ineos Grenadiers). The current world champion considers thoroughly every step she makes; she has been preparing for the upcoming Olympic Games – fourth for her – and the Games are her topmost priority as she did not take any medal at any of her previous three appearances… It seems that having eight world champion titles in three disciplines does not compare to the only dream she has: Olympic gold taken at a home race!


Another French woman, Loana Lecomte (Canyon Cllctv), did start in Brazil, but she did not finish the race. And since she did not appear on the start of the European Championships, judging her current shape is a bit like reading from an orb. It should not be forgotten, though, that Loana took three victories in the last five races in Nové Město na Moravě


Swiss riders are the next to be accounted for. At the last Olympic Games in Tokyo, they took all medals, which is not a likely scenario for the Paris games – only two Swiss ladies are starting at Olympic Games. What will be their names? Well, a good question… Nové Město event is the last chance to perform well for Jolanda Neff, Alessandra Keller, Sina Frei and Linda Indergand. A massive Swiss qualification battle framed by the World Cup title struggle granted!


What will be the response of Americans, who should not be omitted as the battle for tickets to Paris is on in the USA, too. In Brazil, American riders proved that they are on a rising curve; after getting her first victory in the World Cup series, Haley Batten (Specialized Factory) succeeded in winning the American Championships, too. Therefore, she should be one of the two Americans to start at the Olympic race. Nové Město race will decide about the second lady to represent the USA. Will it be Savilia Blunk (Decathlon Ford), who presented her fantastic shape in Brazil, or Kate Courtney, (Scott Sram), and experienced rider who might be returning among the best? Or maybe a surprise named Kelsey Urban (Team 31)? 


Last but not least, Mona Mitterwallner (Cannondale Factory) and Laura Stigger (Specialized Factory) of Austria, who have not yet shown their best and potential, must be counted among the favourites. Having taken the silver at the European Championships in Romania last week, the younger of the two – Mona – indicated that she might be looking for some major results. Will she prove this in Nové Město?


That and more will be known in no time; the racing programme in Nové Město na Moravě starts on May 24, 2024.


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