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2021 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup: How to watch, key dates, and athletes to look out for

Joshua Rogers May 5, 2021
mountain bike world cup
Photo by Milos Vujinovic/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup is only a few days away. Here’s everything you need to know, including race dates, which athletes to look out for, and how to watch.

The 2021 Mountain Bike World Cup opening round in Albstadt is just days away. Things officially get under way in Germany on 7 May.

The small town of Albstadt comes alive every May when the World Cup is in town, although it was absent from the calendar in 2020.

The UCI Mountain Bike World Cup will start in Albstadt with the Cross-Country Short Track race (XCC).

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This will be followed by the main Cross-Country Olympic (XCO) races for both the women and men.

After a short but exciting 2020 World Cup, athletes will be itching to get back to consistent and competitive events.

Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

What is the difference between XCC and XCO?

Short for Cross-Country Olympics, XCO is an off-road mountain bike race format held mainly over dirt-based circuits.

Riders start at the same time in a mass start, racing between an hour and 20 minutes and an hour and 40 minutes.

Cross-Country Short Track (XCC), on the other hand, was a race format introduced in 2018 to change how the starting order for the main XCO World Cup race was determined.

Essentially, riders have to race XCC to have a chance at a good start spot in XCO.

If a rider finishes in the top 24 of the XCC race their finishing position means they occupy the front three starting rows of the XCO race, resulting in a better chance of a higher finishing position.

The higher the position, the more World Cup points the rider gets (more on this later).

Photo by Milos Vujinovic/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

XCC consists of a 1km to 1.5km circuit course with the race lasting between 20 and 25 minutes.

This averages out to about six to eight laps.

The XCC race takes place on on the Friday evening of a World Cup weekend, ahead of the XCO race on Sunday.

Interestingly, riders also get points for XCC races, with the winner getting 125 points, second getting 100, third gets 80 and so on.

So it pays to do well in both races!

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World Cup format

Points are everything at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup.

As well as those XCC points, if a rider finishes in the Top 38 of the main World Cup race on Sunday, they will also get points.

Points per position for the top 5 podium places are as follows:

1st = 300; 2nd = 250; 3rd = 200; 4th = 180; 5th = 160

Photo by TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP via Getty Images

2021 UCI World Cup calendar

There are six rounds of UCI World Cup action for Cross-Country Olympic (XCO) this year.

There is also the UCI World Championships in August following the Tokyo Olympic Games in late July.

The calendar for the upcoming 2021 UCI World Cup after Albstadt on 7-9 May is as follows:

  • May 14-16: Nové Město, Czech Republic (XCO/XCC)
  • May 22-23: Fort William, UK (DH) – To be confirmed
  • June 11-13: Leogang, Austria (DH/XCO/XCC)
  • July 2-4: Les Gets, France (DH/XCO/XCC)
  • August 14-15: Maribor, Slovenia (DH)
  • September 3-5: Lenzerheide, Switzerland (DH/XCO/XCC)
  • September 17-19: Snowshoe, USA (DH/XCO/XCC)
Photo by Milos Vujinovic/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

How to watch the Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Every round of the Mercedes-Benz UCI World Cup will be available to watch on Red Bull TV.

Commentary of the races on Red Bull TV will be available in several languages.

Red Bull TV is available to watch online via your browser, through the Red Bull TV app (on most devices) or on a smart TV.

Coverage of the first race of the World Cup live from Albstadt starts from 7 May.

Athletes to look out for at the 2021 Mountain Bike World Cup

Henrique Avancini, Evie Richards, Nino Schurter, Laura Stigger and Jordan Sarrou are just some of the big names who will be in Albstadt.

Austrian Laura Stigger has moved in the off-season to Specialized Racing. She is joined by UCI World Champion Jordan Sarrou (FRA).

Pauline Ferrand-Prévot is also another high-profile team mover, joining Absolute Absalon BMC.

Ferrand-Prévot beat all in front of her in 2020, retaining her World Championship crown and winning the second XCO race at Nové Město.

Mathias Flückiger appears to be the man coming into Albstadt in red hot form.

He will hope to add to his race win here in 2019.

Cycling: 31st Rio 2016 Olympics / Cycling: Men’s Cross-country Mathias FLUCKIGER (SUI)/ Mountain Bike Centre/ Summer Olympic Games / (Photo by Tim de Waele/Corbis via Getty Images)

Avancini and Schurter will also be ultra competitive, though, with the former already having a win under his belt this season.

He beat Schurter in a sprint finish at the Capoliveri Legend Cup in Italy recently.

Britain’s Tom Pidcock could be one to watch

In terms of British interest, keep an eye out for Tom Pidcock.

Pidcock has little experience outside the U23 category.

However, he did win both the U23 World Cup races in Nové Město last year as well as the U23 Worlds.

Tune into Red Bull TV live on May 7–9 to find out who comes out on top in the first 2021 Mountain Bike World Cup event.

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Joshua is a senior sports writer with over four years' experience in online writing. He graduated with a BA in Ancient History from The University of Manchester before receiving an MA in Sports Journalism from The University of Central Lancashire. He became a trending writer for a leading social publisher and later spent time covering the 2018 World Cup for The Mirror Online. He then moved to a social marketing agency where he acted as website editor. His specialties on The Focus include F1, tennis, NBA, NFL and combat sports.