The 2019 Mercedes- Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup series kicked off this weekend with the XCC (short track) events on Friday.

With the start of the offroad mountain bike World Cup, cyclocross racers both full and part-time returned to flat bars to contest the short, 20-minute-long races in Albstadt, Germany.

The course mixed pavement, grass, gravel and some singletrack in the woods. The women averaged about completed 7 laps in just over 20 minutes, while the men did 9.

After the dust settled, American fans and cyclocross fans had plenty to cheer about.

Racers Eva Lechner, Jolanda Neff, Pauline Ferrand Prevot and Annika Langvad, all whom we saw at UCI Cyclocross World Cups, took the start, with Neff battling World Champ and eventual winner Kate Courtney on the final lap for the win.

Neff took her usual, all-out approach, throwing caution into the wind with an aggressive outside line on the final descent in an attempt to pass Courtney.

In the men’s race, it was none other than 2019 UCI Cyclocross World Champ and Spring Classics star Mathieu van der Poel showing that regardless of bike type or race duration, he’s now a big favorite at any race.

Van der Poel overcame a slow, obstructed start to put in a blistering attack with two laps to go, and then unleashed a final sprint to take the first UCI World Cup points of the season.

Former Swiss Cyclocross National Champion Lars Forster took second.

Brief video highlights of the 2019 UCI XCC race from Albstadt are below.

The XCO cross country race is on Sunday.

Full XCC short track results are here. Watch replays of the racing on here.