The 2023 UCI World Championships witnessed intense E-XC races, showcasing the skills of Elite riders from around the world. Stealing the spotlight was Nathalie Schneitter by becoming the new champion at the age of 37, showing her dominance throughout the race.
The circuit, with its challenging terrain and natural obstacles, leaned more towards a traditional XCO experience rather than the typical E-XC setup. However, Schneitter (Trek-Bosch) shined with her mastery from the start, taking control from the beginning of the five-lap race with a lead that increased lap by lap.
The narrative surrounding the Swiss athlete is captivating. After announcing her retirement during WES Charade 2022, she surprised everyone by returning to WES 2023. Now, months later, she proudly wears her second rainbow jersey as she won the first-ever edition of the UCI E-XC World Championships in 2019.
“I became champion for the first time four years ago. I am 37 years old and I believe I still have the pace. I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I’m delighted,” said the Swiss.
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Following her closely was German Reigning Champ Sofia Wiedenroth (Specialized), securing the second place, while Reigning French Champion Justine Tonso (Lapierre) fought for the third spot. The U19 Women Swiss Cycling MTB National Coach and a well-known participant in WES, Kathrin Stirnemann (Thömus), achieved a fourth-place finish. Austrian Anna Spielmann (Haibike) finished in sixth and German Antonia Daubermann (Advanced) was seventh.
On the other hand, the absence of defending champion Nicole Göldi (Trek-Bosch) was deeply felt, after she announced her unexpected career retirement.
The men’s race was a tightly contested affair from the outset. French Hugo Pigeon (Scott) initially led the pack, closely followed by Swiss Champ Joris Ryf (Specialized). However, Ryf’s strategic approach bore fruit as he patiently trailed Pigeon, waiting for the opportune moment to attack.
Staying close to his rival to reduce drag force, Ryf was right behind Pigeon preparing to overtake him. His decisive move came in the third lap, propelling him to the front of the race. As his lead continued to widen, he secured the gold medal after maintaining controlled physical performance throughout the race, and then managing strength for the remaining laps.
“It’s my fourth World Championships. I’ve been chasing this victory for a long time. I wanted it with all my heart, it was my goal. The bike worked perfectly,” Ryf said, confirming his good moment after winning WES Lombardy Race 2 as the perfect catalyst to sustain his momentum into Scotland, where he clinched the UCI World Champ title for the very first time.
Maintaining focus despite being overtaken, Pigeon secured the second position, while French National Champ Jérôme Gilloux grappled with tyre grip challenges, probably, a fateful decision that hindered his title defence and ultimately relegated him to third.
Now, the two Swiss riders and new Champs will make their way back to WES with high expectations, as the battle on track will resume on 29-30 August in Belgium with a demanding back-to-back racing in Germany right on September 2-3.
Schneitter, third in the Standings, will be on a quest to diminish the margin between her and Wiedenroth (2) as well as Tonso (1), striving to contend for yet another title in 2023. On the other hand, Ryf, in the second spot, will persist in his endeavour to unseat Jérôme Gilloux from his leading position.