Photos: Matt Rousu

Come Friday at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships, and not only were the downhillers up against the clock for qualification, but it was time for the U23 men to tackle the XCO course. While we said that U19 races really showed the talent for the future, if you look at the current elite women's field so much of that strength is straight out of the U23 category. Men's is a little different, but it's still a sign of things to come.

The U23 XCO men was a good race to watch. "I would say there wasn’t as much carnage as the juniors but lots of drama," said Matt Rousu, who supplied this gallery.

"Vlad Dascalu pretty much led from start to finish and looked like he was cruising (one to watch when he goes elite). The battle for the minor medals wasn’t decided until the last lap, the 2 Swiss riders were always up there but the American and Simon Andreassen were in 2nd place for periods during the race, not sure what happened to them but I’m sure they had issues (mechanicals or a big crash maybe) as they lost too much time too quickly."

In the green and gold, the Aussie boys had a great race. Cam Wright had a stellar race really, easily the best of his season, finishing 18th. Australian and Oceania U23 champion Matt Dinham was super stoked finishing 34th. Both these guys are first year U23, and strong rides show that they're are true contenders in the coming years.

“Racing at 3:30pm is always a bit daunting having to sit around all day, but when it started raining it felt significantly worse," said Matt Dinham. "I knew the time gaps were going to open up so I wanted to get a good start, but that didn’t happen. I got a bit swamped and couldn’t make up any positions until the race settled in. Dropping into Beatrice for the first lap sitting close to 50th was wild with bodies all over the place so I took the b-line and made up a few spots. I built into the race and being able to ride the tech rock gardens in the wet conditions paid off massively allowing me to ride from back in the pack up to 34th. I’m glad I survived the hardest XCO track and race in the world in the rain as a first year U23.”

Full results are online.