2021 MTB XC World Cup Talk

Is anybody else following the team transfers currently going on?

Interesting to see so much movement, and I guess a lot of it was probably supposed to be post Olympic cycle.

Currently I’ve seen the following changes:

Sarrou to Specialized (supposedly to free up space for PFP to join Absolut Absalon)
Maxime Marrotte, and Keegan Swenson to the new Santa Cruz team.

I think Emily Batty and the Clif team riders are changing aren’t they?

I’m excited to see the season start up again, the racing is so competitive right now with the young riders really stepping up, and some of the old guard losing some dominance.

I wonder if the Swiss Epic will have a big field this year considering Cape Epic has been shifted to the end of the season?


Emily is changing but she hasn’t confirmed where she is going yet. Her partner is setting up a team and I get the impression she will join at some point, but it might not be yet.

I can’t wait for the season to get going but the world is far from normal still, so I’m not sure when it will actually kick off or not.

I expect the Swiss Epic will still have a big field, but I would imagine the big names will be in Cape Town.


I agree. I think it’s not going to be a normal year, but I’m hoping for more of the double header style weekends to fill out the year with racing.

I should have worded that better, I wonder if the Swiss Epic will have much larger elite field given the normal Cape Epic racers won’t be racing their normal pre/early season epic (Cape Epic being October now).

I’m also really keen to see how Alex Wilds does. I haven’t seen the Orange Seal team there myself so am curious how it works with getting entries to World Cup racing.

I just saw Sarrou’s new Specialized Epic over on the Pink Bike website. Beautiful bike, IMO.

Emily Batty will not be on Trek Factory racing team in 2021.

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Here are all the ones I’ve collected (i.e stolen from MTBR), some are rumors yet:

Sarrou - BMC to Specialized (confirmed)
PFP - Canyon to BMC (announcing today)
Gerhard K. - Torpado to Specialized (confirmed)
Simon Andreasen - Specialized to Cannondale (confirmed)
Hatherly - Specialized to Cannondale (confirmed)
Blevins - Specialized to Trinity (confirmed)
Batten - Specialized to Trinity (confirmed)
Rissveds - 31/Spesh to Specialized
Annika - Specialized to retired (confirmed)
Batty - Trek to Canyon??
Maxime Marotte & Luca Briadot - FSA Santa Cruz (Italian team, not sure that’s the same as Keegan) (confirmed)
Sina Frey and Barbara Benko out of Ghost Factory Racing (Sina likely joining one of the bigger teams, not really sure who though, Cannondale could use a top woman rider)


Updated a couple above that have now been confirmed.

This year has me quite excited, I’m interested to see what Kershbaumer can do on a larger team. I remember reading an article a year or two ago, where he talked about how he never used the gym because he hated it, and base for him was walking, occasionally riding his bike. Maybe a bigger team can really get a little more out of him. Rissveds on a big team could also be a great combination, she had such amazing form last year. I’m also super curious to see where Frei ends up, she’s world class talent, so I hope she ends up on a team that gives her a chance.


PFP confirmed to AA (worst kept secret)

I think you’re right about Keegan being on a different SC team. He’s not mentioned in any of the posts where they are announcing Marotte etc

Payson McEelvin (sp?) Put a post on IG about his last XCO race and banging his head against the wall of World Cup racing. I’m super curious how it works getting teams/riders entered. The FSA Santa Cruz team is like Pro-Continental level as I understand, does that mean that the new riders will bring enough UCI points for automatic inclusion, or something else. Same with Alex Wild, though I know national governing bodies can enter athletes, I don’t know how it works with support and qualifications or anything.

I haven’t checked in a couple of years, but in the UK if you held an elite license and had some top results, that would earn you ‘x’ number of points which meant you could race in the elite field of a UCI XC race. You didn’t need to be part of a team or club either in order to race against the best.

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I noticed that too. It may be that he’s just sponsored but not on a team? I haven’t heard of another team.

I’m also wondering about this.

Did a quick check, and found some info on USAC

Per UCI regulations, the downhill (DHI) and cross-country (XCO) UCI World Cups are competitions limited to athletes meeting one of the following criteria. You also must have a valid international license and be a U.S. citizen to enter through USA Cycling.

Riders must have the following point minimums in the UCI individual reference ranking by the posted date in the “Entry Ranking” column of the world cups online registration deadline document found on the UCI Mountain Bike website.

XCO Elite Men and Women 60 UCI points

XCO U23 Men 80 UCI points

XCO U23 Women 20 UCI points

DHI Elite Men and Women 40 UCI points

DHI Junior Men and Women **must petition for a National Federation World Cup start, see below

It is the rider’s responsibility to verify on the UCI website that they have the required UCI points prior to entering.

Two exceptions to this rule apply:

  • For junior DHI riders, the “40 UCI point” rule does not apply. Junior DHI riders who are listed on the official roster of a UCI-registered team may be entered by their UCI team to race in junior DHI World Cup races. All other junior DHI riders wishing to race in a World Cup event should petition for a USA Cycling National Federation reserved start spot.
  • U23-aged woman XCO riders who do not have the required 20 UCI points to enter a World Cup by the posted entry ranking deadline but are listed on the official roster of a UCI registered MTB team may be entered by their UCI MTB team to race in the U23 XCO World Cup race. All U23-aged men XCO riders who do not have the required 80 UCI points to be guaranteed registration into a World Cup are required to petition for a USA Cycling National Federation reserved start even if they are listed on a UCI-registered MTB team.
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Interesting. That’ll be more difficult in a year with fewer domestic races on.

I wonder how it works in small countries, I don’t follow it (due to being neither elite nor needing UCI points lol) but I don’t know of any UCI MTB races in NZ except for our Nationals.

Sina Frei and Laura Stigger now confirmed for Specialized, good move for both of them…

This has unfortunately been the problem for a while, especially for NA riders. Whether it is DH or XC, the number of events that provide UCI points to provide eligibility is extremely limited, and given the geographic distances involved, costs are an extremely prohibitive factor in being able to actually get to the WC level.

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Not just the cost or ability to accrue points, but also just the ability to practice and get experience on WC caliber courses is a big barrier to US racers. I’ve heard almost every single US WC racer say that they experienced a real kick in the pants when they got into the WC circuit and had to quickly recalibrate. While European racers have been on these courses since they’ve been racing a bike.

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I wonder if that’s why we have a really high hit hate with our Kiwi mountain bikers. Always hard to know if it’s the fantastic trails, or just a couple of genetic lottery winners.

I know all of our riders have come through the U19 and U23 ranks, which makes sense based on the above comment as they wouldn’t have needed the points with the backing of the national federation. Then they get picked up by European trade teams and get to race UCI races year round.