After the opening round in Albstadt, Germany, last weekend, the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup presented by Shimano returns to Nove Mesto na Morave in the Czech Republic for a third straight year. Round two for both the Cross-country (XCO) and Eliminator (XCE) will provide XCO Series leaders Eva Lechner (Colnago Sudtirol) and Daniel McConnell (Trek Factory), and XCE leaders Alexandra Engen (Ghost Factory) and Daniel Federspiel (Otztal Scott Racing) the first chance to race in their new leader's jerseys.
Despite being a relatively new event to the World Cup calendar, Nove Mesto has quickly become one of the favourites, with testing courses and a large turnout of enthusiastic fans. For the Eliminator, on Friday evening, this is only the second official World Cup event ever. Nove Mesto has changed last year's test event course to make it more technically demanding, including a rocky section and BMX bumps on the 1070 metre track.
Last weekend, XCE World Champion Engen saw two of her strongest rivals go out in the semifinal round when they crashed - Jolanda Neff (Giant Pro XC) and Jenny Rissveds (Swedish National). Both will be looking for revenge in Nove Mesto. Federspiel also benefited from misadventure of his rivals when finalists Miha Halzer of Slovenia and Thomas Litscher (Multivan Merida) almost crashed in the final corner of their medal race.
The elite cross-country saw its share of drama in the opening round, as well. Lechner, who was at the front for the entire race, had to hold off a late effort by former World Champion Maja Wloszczowska (Giant Pro XC), to take her first World Cup victory since 2010. Nove Mesto offers a very different type of track from that of Albstadt, trading the shorter steep climbs for longer ones, and more technical sections. Wloszczowska could do well here, as could local favourite Katerina Nash (Luna).
The men's race will give first time winner McConnell a chance to prove that last week's stunning victory was no fluke. The Australian, who had only finished once in the top-20 prior to Albstadt, made a last lap surge from sixth to first to take the win. Julien Absalon (BMC), who led for the first half of the race before having to drop out with mechanical problems, has shown that he has strong form, as has Olympic Champion Jaroslav Kulhavy (Specialized), with a record of never finishing below second here in his home country. Last year Kulhavy finished second to the current World Champion and defending World Cup Champion, Nino Schurter (Scott-Swisspower), who will be hoping to make up for a rare finish off the podium last week.
The action begins Friday evening with the Eliminator and continues through Sunday. All of the action will be available to race fans worldwide, live at redbull.com/bike. The Eliminator will be shown on Friday, May 24th, between 15:52 and 17:20 (all times GMT), and the Elite Cross-country on Sunday, May 25th - Women at 09:18 to 11:45 and Men 11:48 to 13:45.