Mountain Bike Cross-country

Want to watch the world’s best cyclists tackle the trails at Glentress Forest in Scotland? Here’s everything you need to know about Mountain Bike XCO.

Dates: 08 - 12 August 2023

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An Italian rider is pursued through a chicane by a number of riders with dust flying


Cross-Country races look chaotic - and that’s because they are.

After a massive crowd of riders pours off the start line, rough terrain, steep slopes and mud-based mayhem is the order of the day as they jostle for position, biding their time to attack in sprint finishes that separate the wannabes from the medal winners.

How it works

Glentress Forest is legendary amongst mountain bikers for its technical climbs and fast, flowing descents. 

Given the uneven terrain, the bikes take just as much punishment as the riders. Punctures and other mechanical failures will happen - often requiring them to get off and push to a technical zone - so no lead is safe.

Cross-country (XCO)

After the elbow-to-elbow brawl at the start line sorts the strongest riders from the rest, they race to complete a set number of laps as quickly as they can. But if they go full gas too soon, they’ll burn out before the finish. Races last for over an hour, so endurance, stamina and mental fortitude will be required.

Cross-country Short track (XCC)

Compared to the gruelling XCO distance, the 1 to 1.5km laps of XCC make for fast, furious and afterburners-always-on races. Riders have to strike the balance between skill and speed, testing the limits of their legs for an intense 20 minutes.

Cross-country Team Relay (XCR)

Teams of six must play to their strengths if they want to navigate their way through the mud to medals, where strategy matters just as much as speed. Riders take it in turns to complete laps, sharing the burden of the demanding course.

Electric Mountain Bike (E-MTB)

These riders race a similar course to the XCO, but with one big difference: these are part battery-powered bikes. So witht hat in mind, there will be some additional technical sections that make use of this extra pedal-assisted juice. 

Top speeds are capped at 25 kilometers per hour and racers must finish on the same bike and the battery they started with.

Glentress Forest

Glentress Forest,
EH45 8NB.

Current UCI World Champions

Evie Richards

Evie Richards

Women Elite - Cross-country Olympic (XCO)

Mona Mitterwallner

Mona Mitterwallner

Women Under 23 - Cross-country Olympic (XCO)

Line Burquier

Line Burquier

Women Junior - Cross-country Olympic (XCO)

Nino Schurter

Nino Schurter

Men Elite - Cross-country Olympic (XCO)



Men Under 23 - Cross-country Olympic (XCO)



Men Junior - Cross-country Olympic (XCO)

Evie Richards surrounded by a turquoise brushstroke

Fun Facts!

  • In the elite men and women’s categories, races take between 1 hour and 20 minutes and 1 hour 40 minutes.
  • Paved sections can’t exceed more than 15% of the course. There’s no limit on how much mud there is.
  • Riders want to be as light as possible. That goes for their own weight and the weight of their bike - every gram counts.