by Sebastian Jayne
Every Thursday over the next few weeks we will be throwing back to the World Cup race courses of 2018 and having a look at a few to see what made each one special or challenging. I’ll be focusing on courses that I raced to give a good idea of what it was like as a racer. This week starts with a rider and fan favourite in the Czech Republic, Nové Město na Moravě.
The Nove Mesto course has, since its introduction, been a fan and rider favourite. The whole race has been voted several times as the World Cup of the year and it’s easy to see why either on TV or in person. The atmosphere that the crowd produces is amazing and the organisation around the biathlon arena is some of the best.
The course faced some small changes for 2018 that might not have been noticeable on the big screen but did change how the course felt to ride. Nove Mesto has always been quite a fast course with the comparatively long asphalt section and some dirt road sections helping bring the speed up. The short, well … relatively short, climbs and flaterish sections across the tops of the climbs means the total time slugging away at slow speeds is fairly low.
For 2018, the first and last climbs were both made shorter by around one half which, stating the obvious, made them a bit shorter to climb. This also meant racers could ride up the climb faster as they didn’t have to climb as long and meant the subsequent climb could be attacked a bit harder as they weren’t quite as fatigued compared to previous years. Another factor that, in a way, made the 2018 edition ‘easier’ was the conditions. It was very dry on race day and this made the course run extremely fast. The dirt was a little harder in spots and you could carry a lot more speed in sections.
One part I really like about the course, new and old, is the uphill technical section called Shimano Expert Climb One. There were two climbs in the past but the Expert Climb Two is the last climb that was halved for 2018 and lost its ‘expert’ status. The Expert Climb One is a steep uphill rock garden that you come into with very little speed. It requires a lot of finesse alongside big power to hit cleanly. The rocks really sap your speed as you hit them, and it is tough to maintain traction. The dual suspension bikes are a big plus here with this section being one of the best to exemplify the benefits of a dually over a hardtail. There are a few sniper roots littered over the climb as well, which make it infinitely tougher to negotiate in the wet.
Roots are a big part of the Nove Mesto course with most of the trail sections littered with them. In the wet, the roots make the trail sections a real challenge to race on, though in the dry they are just as tough but for different reasons. The roots make the track extremely rough to race and ride on. The roughness makes tracks like Nove Mesto a big test for overall body fitness. It also calls for a dialled set up and it is one of the courses where having good suspension settings can make a big difference. The rebound is a big one, as you want a setting that will recover after successive hits but still keep you grounded so you can pedal over all the small bumps.
The changes to the course meant there was a lot closer racing in the 2018 edition. This is shown in the results where 104 riders finished on the lead lap, so 12.10 min down on Nino Schurter. In 2017, on the old course, 77 riders finished on the lead lap with riders 12.50 mins down on, again, Nino Schurter. I spoke about the effect the changes of the course had on the race in an edition of ‘Between the Tape’ in the Australian Mountain Bike magazine. The closer racing does make things very exciting with closer time gaps between everyone. This is as exciting for the fans as it is the riders.
The average speed of the winner was actually almost identical to the previous year’s race. But the 2018 course, with its smaller climbs and dry conditions, created a course that didn’t create exceptionally large gaps between the best and the rest. I do like this style of race course when put together with a course like La Bresse, which has more difficult sections to create bigger differences, in a series to create more varied race situations. But more on La Bresse in a few weeks! Next week we move to Germany’s Albstadt and look at the beautiful mess of mud!
Bike – Norco Revolver FS 2 Custom
Suspension – Fox
Gearing – Shimano 11-46/36t
Components – Shimano/Pro/Mt Zoom
Wheels – Stans Podium SRD
Tyres – Maxxis Ikon 2.0
Power meter – Stages + Stages Dash computer
Made shiny by – Krush