For the first time, the UCI World Mountain Bike Championships featured an electric bike race this year, held at Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec, Canada. 45 men and 8 women entered.
No details about the cross-country course were disclosed before the race day, but we spoke to Specialized racer Anneke Beerten, who raced in the women’s race. “It was pretty intense!”, she said. “It was beyond my expectation. I was stoked with the course that they built! I was afraid that it was going to be a simple course, and not that technical, but it happened to be that it was very technical and very challenging. Exactly what we need for e-biking.”
Bikes were limited to 25 km/h (15.5 mph), the European spec for Class 1 e-bikes. Riders had to turn in their bikes on race day, and officials would go over the bikes, motors and software to make sure they hadn’t been modified to go above 25 km/h or put out more than 250 watts (nominal). Riders were given their bikes at the start box immediately before their race. No adjustments could be made at that point by riders or mechanics.
The course had climbs that wouldn’t be possible for even the strongest of the pros to make it up on a traditional mountain bike. There were rock walls, roots, things that would test the skills of every rider. The course was long enough that it took over an hour even for the fastest riders. It was shorter than a cross-country race for traditional mountain bikes. Beerten says that overall that terrain, the key was managing motor power.