Pauline Ferrand-Prévot crosses the finish line of the 2023 World STXC Championships alone. She's sitting up to soak in the crowd's cheers. Behind, Puck Pieterse bangs her handlebar in frustration.

World MTB Championships: Ferrand-Prévot and Gaze defend short track titles

A dry, fast course made for tactical racing ahead of Saturday's XC.

No one knows how to peak for big events better than Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, much to Puck Pieterse’s frustration. Photo © Piper Albrecht

Ryan Simonovich
by Ryan Simonovich 10.08.2023 Photography by
Piper Albrecht
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Pauline Ferrand-Prévot and Sam Gaze powered their way to short-track cross country victories at the Mountain Bike World Championships Thursday, successfully defending the rainbow jerseys that both riders won last year. 

Though Scotland is known as being a wet and rainy locale, the weather held out at the Glentress Forest venue making for dry and fast conditions. 

The men’s field set off first with Latvian Martins Blums leading early on along with Gaze of New Zealand and Henrique Avancini. The Brazilian was looking strong after taking the marathon cross country title last weekend, but he would later drop back from the front of the group and eventually abandon the race with a few laps to go. 

Gaze was eager to control the front along with short track specialist Luca Schwarzbauer of Germany. Victor Koretzky also kept himself in the top five for much of the race. A lack of particularly long or steep climbs or technical sections made for a tactical race that did not play out to be very selective. 

Tom Pidcock moved his way toward the front midway through the race, buoyed by racing in front of home crowds in the UK. 

During the final lap, Gaze put in the decisive move on the uphill section, looking to avoid an all-out sprint finish. He opened up a small gap with Koretzky following and Schwarzbauer sitting in third wheel. 

From left to right, Sam Gaze, Luca Schwarzbauer, and Victor Koretzky lead the men's field in the short track at the 2023 World MTB Championships. Koretzky is out of the saddle and Schwarzbauer is looking to his left as if to mark Koretzky's move. Gaze is looking straight ahead as the pack rides up a short climb.
Luca Schwarzbauer (No. 10 plate) was attentive all race, but touched wheels with Tom Pidcock in the final corner and crashed as Sam Gaze (No. 1 plate) and Victor Koretzky (No. 38 plate) sprinted for the win. Photo © Piper Albrecht

Heading into the final corner, Pidcock came inside of Schwarzbauer and got to the corner first, while the German rubbed wheels and hit the deck. Gaze maintained his lead against a fast-charging Koretzky, winning by a bit less than a wheel’s length while Pidcock rolled in for third-place. 

In the women’s race, Martina Berta grabbed the hole shot followed by Puck Pieterse and home favorite Evie Richards, with Ferrand-Prévot and Rebecca Henderson also in contact. Much to the UK crowd’s excitement, Richards took a big pull on the third lap and kept the pace strong throughout the race. 

As the race progressed, Pieterse, Henderson, Ferrand-Prévot, and Richards looked the strongest, with Alessandra Keller and Gwendalyn Gibson joining to form an elite group of six. Sina Frei had a freak crash in the start/finish chute, potentially helping solidify the split, though American Savilia Blunk and Switzerland’s Steffi Heberlin gave valiant chase. 

Richards pushed the pace again on the penultimate lap, stringing out the group with the Dutch World Cup leader Pieterse and Ferrand-Prévot following. 

Great Britain's Evie Richards leads the front group during the short track at the 2023 MTB World Championships. Pauline Ferrand-Prévot is tight on her wheel, with American Gwendalyn Gibson and Dutch rider Puck Pieterse visible as well.
Evie Richards (No. 8 plate) was aggressive throughout the race, but a late attack by Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (No. 1 plate) provided the winning gap to Puck Pieterse (behind in white helmet and jersey). Photo © Piper Albrecht

The Frenchwoman waited until the final climb to put in a nuclear attack, bolstering her chances by getting a gap of numerous bike lengths. She had enough time to sit up and soak in her second-consecutive Worlds XCC victory as Pieterse rolled in for second and Richards placed third. 

Elite Men’s XCC Results 

  1. Samuel Gaze (NZL) 20:27
  2. Victor Koretzy (FRA) @ same time
  3. Thomas Pidcock (GBR) @ :02
  4. Alan Hatherly (RSA) @ :04
  5. Sebastian Fini (DEN) @ :05
  6. Martins Blums (LAT) @ :08
  7. Jofre Cullell (ESP) 
  8. Thomas Litscher (SUI) both same time
  9. Luca Schwarzbauer (GER) @ :09
  10. Anton Cooper (NZL) @ :11

Elite Women’s XCC Results 

  1. Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (FRA) 21:17
  2. Puck Pieterse (NED) @ :04
  3. Evie Richards (GBR) @ :09
  4. Gwendalyn Gibson (USA) @ :15
  5. Rebecca Henderson (AUS) @ :20
  6. Alessandra Keller (SUI) @ :25
  7. Steffi Haberlin (SUI) @ :38
  8. Savilia Blunk (USA) @ :44
  9. Jolanda Neff (SUI) @ :49
  10. Anne Tauber (NED) @ :57

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