MTB Team Recap 1130x600
Team USA

Follow the MTB Team

By: Jesse Anthony  May 26, 2023

The highly-anticipated 2023 MTB World Cup kicked off in May in Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic.

Opening weekends are always tense and exciting. While this first World Cup is well into the international racing season, it was the first time all the top riders from around the world met to compete in 2023.

The US riders have all taken various paths to get here, with riders like Savilia Blunk (Rockrider Ford Racing Team) spending a large portion of the winter and spring in Europe, Kate Courtney (Scott/Sram) primarily based in the US but traveling for a mid-winter trip to South Africa and the Pan American Championships, which she won, in Brazil, Christopher Blevins (Specialized Factory Racing) traveling to and winning the Cape Epic stage race in South Africa, and others with different travel and training schedules.

After these varied winter schedules, the US National Team athletes arrived in Bentonville for our first camp of the year, leading into the US Cup MTB Races in Fayetteville. The primary purpose of this camp was to align our goals for the 2023 season and sharpen our skills with coach Anneke Beerten.

Nove Mesto na Morave presents one of the athletes' favorite courses of the World Cup calendar. The trails are naturally rooty, wide, and loamy with touches of manmade features, including two rock gardens, some blazing fast drops, and a few flow-turns and tabletops.

The race weekend was kicked off with the first-ever U23 XCC (short track) World Cup events, with Riley Amos (Trek Factory Racing) and Bjorn Riley (Trek Future Racing) finishing 2nd and 4th in the U23 men's event and Madigan Munro pacing (Trek Factory Racing) 9th in the U23 women.

In the elite short track races, Haley Batten (Specialized Factory Racing) was the top US finisher in 6th in the elite women.

On to the main events of the weekend, and Andie Aagard (Bear Development Team), a 17 year-old junior woman, who was racing in Europe for the first time, dominated the junior women's race to win by nearly a minute over 2nd place. This unprecedented performance excited the entire US contingent at Nove Mesto. Dan English (USA National Team) started off fast in the junior men's competition, riding in the top-5 until he was taken out by another racer on a fast section of the course and was forced to abandon. Magnus White (USA National Team) took over for leading the US junior men and fought to a 22nd place finish in his first European MTB race.

Andie aangard world cup podium 900x475

In the U23 competitions, Riley Amos was again at the front of the field, setting a blistering pace early in the U23 men's XCO before suffering an unpredictable mechanical mishap. Bjorn Riley was also riding in the top-10 before a flat tire took him backward in the pack. Madigan Munro set consistent lap times in the U23 women's race and finished 9th again, solidifying her position in the top-10 of the U23 women's field.

In the elite events, Haley Batten led from the beginning of the Elite Women's race and rode an aggressive race to eventually finish 11th, followed closely by Kate Courtney in 13th. Christopher Blevins fought through an off-day to salvage 31st place in a stacked elite men's race.

While the placings were not the best that US riders have shown in recent World Cup competition, the timing showed that the level and depth of competition is at its highest point in decades. Haley finished 1:49 off the lead, which would have landed her in 4th place at this race in 2022. This depth is noticeable across all fields, and the US riders are in prime position to improve throughout the season with just a slight adjustment equaling several places.

All in all, we are happy that World Cup season is underway and we have a starting point. The work is being done and our goals are clear. Ultimately, we are very grateful to all of our supporters, the teams, coaches, and everyone who is working to make these riders' dreams become a reality. The next World Cup is on June 8-11 in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, and the riders are fired-up to put the lessons learned this week to use at the next round.

Thanks for your support, and go Team USA!!!