Battle Royale - Albstadt XCO

May 22, 2016
by Matthew DeLorme  


This week was filled with all kinds of questions. Questions about weather and what role it would play. Questions about how the outcome would change with all the players on the board this round. Questions of who would have the endurance for this climbers course, and the skill to handle the slick descents. The answers came today and they were definitive. The sun came out here in Albstadt and the temps soared to near eighty degrees. The track dried out for the most part. There was blood spilt on the rocks, and in the end four stood out above all the rest.


Jolanda Neff was missing from the women's field due to a viral infection. But it may not have mattered as Annika Langvad utterly smashed the field. Jenny Rissveds also had an incredible ride, fighting back to take a second place finish after a crash on her second lap. Catharine Pendrel rode to third, followed by Sabine Spitz. Gunn-Rita rode to fifth proving she is ready for the season despite her absence in Austrailia.

Nino Schurter and Julien Absalon battled back and fourth all seven laps. It was a game of attack and defend. A fight to the last inch. In the end Nino Schurter would have the extra bit of snap to propel him across the line in first. Maxime Marotte would follow up his preformace in Cairns with a solid ride to third. Jaroslav Kulhavy would ride to fourth and Lars Forster would take the fifth. Albstadt 2016 was certainly a race to remember.

Romain Siegle zones into his racing mode.
Romain Siegle zones into his racing mode.

Stampeding legs make their way through the grass field raising heart rates to their maximum as riders try to get into a good position before the singletracks.
Stampeding legs make their way through the grass field, raising heart rates to their maximum as riders try to get into a good position before the singletracks.

Titouan Carod leading Gaze out on the back side climb.
Titouan Carod leading Gaze out on the backside climb.

This is your nemesis. One tiny stream of water created a treacherous trail which claimed many victims.
This is your nemesis. One tiny stream of water created a treacherous trail which claimed many victims.

Marcel Guerrini speeding to a third place finish in U23 men.
Marcel Guerrini speeding to a third place finish in U23 men.

Number one takes another win.
Number one takes another win.

Maja Wloszczowska focused on the job ahead.
Maja Wloszczowska focused on the job ahead.

Katerina Nash and Eva Lechner chillin .
Katerina Nash and Eva Lechner chillin'.

Just a reminder of what s coming.
Just a reminder of what's coming.

The pits is full of buzzing tyres as most riders do their warmup on the roller.
The pits are full of buzzing tyres as most riders do their warm up on the rollers.

Pauline Ferrand-Prevot is back in business after a broken knee forced her to abandon cycling during the winter.
Pauline Ferrand-Prevot is back in business after a broken knee forced her to abandon cycling during the winter.

Simon marks the starting grid for the front row.
Simon marks the starting grid for the front row.

The women elite field is off.
The women's elite field is off.

Jenny Rissveds had the ride of her elite career. She was riding strong all week taking some bomber lines and carrying a ton of speed.
Jenny Rissveds had the ride of her elite career. She was riding strong all week, taking some bomber lines and carrying a ton of speed.

Annika Langvad is on a tear she finished 1 25 up on second place Rissveds.
Annika Langvad is on a tear she finished 1:25 up on second place Rissveds.

Annika Langvad is in an incredible form. She rode away from the field after the first lap never to be seen again by the others.
Annika Langvad is in an incredible form. She rode away from the field after the first lap, never to be seen again by the others.

Germany s Sabine Spitz has had an impressive career. Correction Sabine Spitz s career is impressive. Today she proved once again that she is the strongest rider in Germany.
Germany's Sabine Spitz has had an impressive career. Correction, Sabine Spitz's career is impressive. Today she proved once again that she is the strongest rider in Germany.

Catharine Pendrel navigating the rough stuff with ease.
Catharine Pendrel navigating the rough stuff with ease.

Some days you have the bar others the bar has you.
Some days you have the bar, other days, the bar has you.

Gunn-Rita was missing in Cairns but she proved she hasn t slowed since last season.
Gunn-Rita was missing in Cairns, but she proved she hasn't slowed since last season.

Two lines on the Red Bull Climb and more than enough fans to cheer you to the top.
Two lines on the Red Bull Climb, and more than enough fans to cheer you to the top.

The bell sounds as the women s field heads into their final lap.
The bell sounds as the women's field heads into their final lap.

Again the victor. Another amazing ride from Langvad.
Again the victor. Another amazing ride from Langvad.

It was hot out there today. Near eighty degrees. The heat took it s toll. The racers left nothing on the track.
It was hot out there today. Near eighty degrees. The heat took it's toll, and the racers left nothing on the track.

Elisabeth Brandau sits exhausted after finishing in seventh position in Albstadt. Her Radon prototype lies before her.
Elisabeth Brandau sits exhausted after finishing in seventh position in Albstadt. Her Radon prototype lies before her.

Despite her crash Rissveds showed just how strong a rider she was today.
Despite her crash, Rissveds showed just how strong a rider she was today.

There were more than a few bloodied knees and arms that came across the line.
There were more than a few bloodied knees and arms that came across the line.

Lars Forster still believes in the power of these things. It works well for him though.
Lars Forster still believes in the power of these things. It works well for him though.

There was a moment of silence for Stevie Smith before went off. R.I.P. Chainsaw.
There was a moment of silence for Stevie Smith before the start gun went off. R.I.P. Chainsaw.

Battle Royale Albstadt XC

Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel who rode cyclo cross and won the World Championships in 2015 rode from 99th to 34th. He s still hoping to qualify for the Dutch Olympic team. La Bresse will provide him with another opportunity
Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel, who rode cyclo cross and won the World Championships in 2015, rode from 99th to 34th. He's still hoping to qualify for the Dutch Olympic team. La Bresse will provide him with another opportunity.

Jaroslav Kulhavy making easy work of the Devil s Corners to take fourth place.
Jaroslav Kulhavy making easy work of the Devil's Corners to take fourth place.

Florian Vogel in an early lead. Vogel suffered a crash that put him out of podium contention.
Florian Vogel in an early lead. Vogel suffered a crash that put him out of podium contention.

Lap four Lap five Nino and Julien traded for the lead so often we couldn t keep track.
Lap four? Lap five? Nino and Julien traded for the lead so often we couldn't keep track.

Packed. For those who wanted to move fast on foot Albstadt was a challenge.
Packed. For those who wanted to move fast on foot, Albstadt was a challenge.

Fabian Giger can be counted among the victims of crash corner . The Swiss rider still rode an incredible race finishing in seventh. If the pieces fall together Giger is a contender for the podium.
Fabian Giger can be counted among the victims of 'crash corner'. The Swiss rider still rode an incredible race, finishing in seventh. If the pieces fall together, Giger is a contender for the podium.

Many riders tumbled down the course in a corner which eroded rapidly with rains earlier in the week. A trickle of water kept it pretty slippery throughout the races.
Many riders tumbled down the course in a corner which eroded rapidly with rains earlier in the week. A trickle of water kept it pretty slippery throughout the races.

Nino and Julien traded places several times through out the course of seven laps.
Nino and Julien traded places several times throughout the course of seven laps.

Because Manny wears baggies.
Because Manny wears baggies.

Nino leads Julien up to the Devil s Corners.
Nino leads Julien up to the Devil's Corners.

The climbs here are might not look so steep but they are. It s one hard grind after another.
The climbs here might not look so steep, but they are. It's one hard grind after another.

Inches from the win Absalon bites down on the slightly sour taste of defeat.
Inches from the win, Absalon bites down on the slightly sour taste of defeat.

Pauline and Julien after the race. The French couple share high ambitions for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Pauline and Julien after the race. The French couple share high ambitions for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

All that was left was to gasp for air for Julien after that last effort.
All that was left was to gasp for air for Julien after that last effort.

Mountainbiking really IS a friendly world. A fierce battle is concluded.
Mountainbiking really IS a friendly world. A fierce battle is concluded.

Water bottles were quickly emptied once riders were across the line.
Water bottles were quickly emptied once riders were across the line.

Sometimes you fight hard and it doesn t go your way but you live to fight another day.
Sometimes you fight hard and it doesn't go your way, but you live to fight another day.

Cheers Albstadt you ve been stylish
Cheers Albstadt, you've been stylish!


MENTIONS: @mdelorme / @ikeizer




91 Comments

  • 72 5
 Baggies on a World Cup XC race? Kudos to that dude
  • 3 18
flag IllestT (May 22, 2016 at 23:28) (Below Threshold)
 Surely the fact that he's wearing goggles is more strange for an XC race?
  • 5 10
flag BlueVelvet (May 23, 2016 at 2:38) (Below Threshold)
 @suburbanrider: Fugly glasses mind.
  • 7 2
 I rather prefer kudos for dropperposts and whips!
  • 3 0
 Indeed. Who knows, maybe they'll even start wearing pads in a decade or so.
  • 6 0
 Manny rips dude. I was at Windham last year and he took the ballsiest, fastest lines every chance he got. Even blasted past Nino in one of the big rock gardens to cut him off. Dude is a beast.
  • 29 3
 That first picture is AWESOME. Make me want to go do intervals tomorrow. also... what a power couple that is! my goodness
  • 11 2
 So many fantastic photos and sweet spandex gnarl, thanks PB!
  • 14 1
 They aren't a couple... Just saying
  • 5 35
flag chyu (May 22, 2016 at 20:11) (Below Threshold)
 Why are the knees bleeding, I thought XC tracks are so tame you don't need a kneeguard.
  • 2 0
 @captaintyingknots: I thought he was married with kids, but looking on google maybe they are? I can't read French
  • 5 0
 @rrsport: they actually are now
  • 4 1
 @ikeizer: younger model Wink
  • 3 0
 @ikeizer: that's why he's faster this season Wink
  • 9 0
 The coverage was sick,
what we learn from Absalon: get a young chick!
And get yourself a dropper post
It will make you fast for the most!
  • 5 4
 @chyu: God dammit that's a dumb ass hatefull comment. I would like to see you try ride the race course!
  • 4 0
 3600 WATTS on Tarmac
  • 5 0
 @Christopop: No hate in here
Guess Chyu tried irony,
I don't get the neg props system sometimes ???
  • 2 2
 Perhaps people stand at no dropper and protection for XC rides.
  • 6 0
 Absalon's legs make me shy...
  • 2 0
 @chyu: Just a question of weight...and product availability for 27.2mm seattubes diam.
There is some work in progress for the moment, but quiet a few exceptions like the one of Julien.
  • 22 0
 Edge of the seat stuff.... i never thought i would be getting excited about an XC race, but this multi-lap XCO format is brilliant, really technical tracks, speed from the off, crashes, mechanicals.. and the tactics... Nino just hanging in behind Julien to the finish because he had faith in his sprinting ability, he was nearly proved wrong........... Great race !
Ok, DH it ain't.... but my admiration for the lycra clad has gone up 200%
  • 6 0
 And this track was one of the tamer tracks of the circuit... Wait until you see a technical one!
  • 4 0
 no effin shortcuts Smile
  • 2 0
 I watched a few races last season, Schurter impresses the hell out of me !
  • 2 0
 The man has skills.... 'Hunt for glory- chapter 10' youtu.be/UgQbIB_98NM
  • 13 0
 Tribute for Smith at the start, Warner was choking a bit. It's going to be hard to watch the DH gost run.
  • 2 1
 Do you know where we can watch the tribute? Was it at the start of the men's or women's race?
  • 2 0
 @Rabbuit: Start of the mens...
  • 14 2
 These pictures are screaming INSTALL DROPPER POST! INSTALL DROPPER POST!
  • 32 1
 The guy who finished second used a dropper. The guy who won didn't.
  • 19 2
 True that Absalon got 2nd BUT traditionally Nino would always pull away on the descents...but today he couldn't makeup any time on Absalon when descending.
  • 8 2
 @jclnv: This also shows that wheel sizes aren't really that important.
Nino is on a bike with 27.5 inch wheels, Absalon is on a 29'er. They were super close to each other the entire race!
  • 3 2
 @Christopop: Since it was a course with a lot of climbing, usually on fire roads, the 29er would have been more advantageous to the 27.5.
  • 8 0
 @Christopop: Nino is also significantly shorter than Julien.
  • 4 1
 @Christopop: these guys are pro. Give them a 24" bike and they'd kill us all. For XC the advantage of a 29er is indisputable, at least for 95%+ of the world. Very fast athletes /even pro/ around me all ride 29ers and one simple sentence says it all: "I'm riding with the guy in front of me and i am pedaling hard, but he is giving less effort to maintain the same tempo" /dude was riding 27.5/. I'm not against 27.5, but i'm against talking thrash on 29ers when they are proven (for XC). Bikes are great, let's just have fun Smile (side note: you never know how much of a sponsor/marketing it is for Nino to ride 27.5 and not 29)
  • 4 0
 Damn I take a decade now them to realize dropperpost is much worth it!... Sorry but I spend 10 years trying to convince this people to use them since once I became GravityDropper distributor... Even once I challange Nino to prove he would be faster.. Also both raced enduro and avalanche winning some races.. So it surprises me still how long it take to Absalon to take decision... Anyway I hope now dropper posts starts to be the norm among XC racers helping to evolve even more technichal circuits and overall show...
  • 1 0
 Trying to recall high school physics. Don't smaller circumferences accelerate more slowly? So, in the final sprint, all other thins being equal, the 27.5 would have the advantage. But, once you get to speed the 29er has the advantage. Maybe that is why Nino waited for literally the last nanosecond (*nino*second)? Or maybe we are all thinking too much and he just knew he had a little more in the tank than at that point.
Really impresse with Absalon's drastic improvement in descending ability. Should make for a great season and olympics.
  • 2 0
 @vesscsm: Don't get me wrong Smile I'm not talking trash about any of these wheel sizes, I was actually trying to defend them Smile I love 29'ers as well as 27.5 and 26 inch. I think that short travel aggressive 29'er trail bikes like Evil The Following, Kona Process 111, Transition Smuggler, Kona Hei Hei DL etc. are some of the coolest bikes out there. I ride/race XC myself and you are absolutely right about most guys riding the bigger wheels. Personally, I'm rocking the Giant XTC 27.5 Advanced, but will one of my future bikes have 29 inch wheels, yes I most certainly think so Smile
  • 2 0
 The whole wheelsize thing is way overblown. Clearly 27.5 had no problems racking up wins on the mens and womens side (Neff on Liv and Pauline). In reality the pluses and minuses of both make it a wash. What's most important is how u feel on the bike. Nino rides 27.5 not because of sponsorship, he rides it because that's what he wants and Scott developed it for him.

Also Nino's sprint timing is just perfect sprint timing and very smart riding behind Absalon until the time to attack.
  • 4 0
 @jclnv: that's true, but compare it to last year's race.... last year Nino put seconds into Julien on every descent, forcing Julien to pull him back on the climbs each lap. Nino had it in the bag (until he crashed), mainly due to his descending skill.

This year Julien was right with Nino on every downhill. I'm sure the dropper helped him stay in touch. Despite the second place finish I thought this was a really strong result for Absalon - if he can hang with Nino on the downhills now we're in for a hell of a season. Can't wait to see if Nino feels the pressure and starts running one himself.

Side note, were any of you guys watching Marotte on the downhills??? That dude is beyond flowy, I think I remember seeing on one downhill he took 6-7 seconds out of Nino/Julien's lead, and was basically closing on those two for the whole second half of the race. He's a fun rider to watch, and I wouldn't be surprised if he became a real threat soon. I rewatched the Cairns coverage to spot him and he's got some real techy chops.
  • 6 0
 I know that a lot of subscribers who have been with Pinkbike since the beginning are not in to XC at all. I'm in that 1% that is drawn to mountain biking because of its diverse styles/disciplines. If Pinkbike did a little more coverage of backcountry adventure rides it would be the only magazine/blog that I would have bookmarked.
  • 8 0
 What a race! You've perfectly got the right the title ("Battle Royale") Mat and Irmo.
  • 3 0
 Hey @ikeizer, congrats for making it this far as photographer! I still recall you from back in the day when I was overhauling my forks in the Bike2Build workshop while you (and Jorrit) were discussing advertisement for your website (adrenalinsports.nl). Good to see you're still living it. Enjoy!
  • 2 0
 Vinay! Cheers dude! I just had dinner with Jorrit haha. Hope you're all good!
  • 1 0
 @ikeizer: Cool to hear you're still getting along great Smile . Getting kids made me cut down on my riding time (and injuries) considerably. But they're a bit older now so I'm getting back into it. One thing it did teach me is taking pictures. Actually Hans Peter van Veldhoven (www.hp-ph.com) got me into it back when he was following us for the WSC2005 and it was playing with the aperture which I loved most. I just can't get myself to close it. Same goes for you apparently. You can easily tell your pictures from those taken by Matthew Smile . So I just had analog gear back then (which was cheap as chips) and when the kids came I put my 50mm f1.7 manual focus lens on a mirrorless digital body. So now I've got 2x zoom and still the same aperture to play with.

Just noticed I've still got your number. We'll hook up sometime Smile .
  • 3 0
 Awesome race, over the last few seasons XC has come on leaps and bounds in both the presentation (thanks Red Bull tv) and appeal. The bikes look super quick standing still, the courses are technical, some of the climbs are brutal, and the riding is top quality (especially when you consider the heart rate the riders are putting out). Its even made me enter a couple of local races (and promptly get spat out the back of the pack!)
  • 6 0
 No one hit the wall ride up?
Wink
  • 2 0
 It is not allowed by the organiser...
  • 4 0
 That top photo of Nino and Absalon is one of my favourite mtb photos of all time. So much going on in it.

Is lycra cool again??
  • 5 0
 damn thats a close finish
  • 2 0
 Not quite sea otter 2015, but still great. Thanks BP for the coverage!
  • 1 0
 Keep an eye on Maxime Marotte... that dude has flow for days, I was watching in awe as he carved up those downhills, and he looked friggin strong through the techy stuff in Cairns too. Might see him giving Nino and Julien some problems soon!
  • 3 0
 Lotsa step-cast forks in this race.... can us poor souls buy them yet?
  • 2 0
 Yeah, I'm pretty sure that they are able to be ordered. Or at least so I think.
  • 5 2
 Whoa whoa whoa, a full-sus bike won an XC race? Great Odin's Raven!
  • 5 1
 Where have you been in the last couple of years? Smile
  • 1 0
 Fokkin' ell !!! gotta log on to the red bull site and check out the whole race. That first pic is truly epic... battle of the Giants, indeed
  • 4 0
 Yes Sam Gaze. Legend.
  • 3 2
 Surprisingly little comment/coverage that Nino was on a brand new bike and this was it's first time out and first media exposure !
  • 2 0
 Theres an entire article on it...
  • 9 6
 XC is road bikes on dirt NO MORE! Smile
  • 2 0
 Anyone know what kind of speed these guys average on these races?
  • 5 0
 Well, just did the math, track was about 33km, Nino finished in 1h28 >> 22,5 km/h average for him
  • 2 0
 @aresiusbe:
Hi
you forgot the D+ : +/- 1500 M+ for 33 Km, it's worth a try
  • 2 0
 @Mecadav: thx for the addition, did not find the D+, damn that is a brutal amount of elevation on such a short track.
This average is now even more insane....
  • 3 1
 @Mecadav: wha? say that again please??
I did a 38K ride yesterday w/ 1'010M elevation and I'm bl**dy destroyed (well I was riding my full-metal-E29-Spesh LOL). Oh... and it took me 2:42
:-D
Just want to curl up and cry (after I've watched the race hehe)
  • 2 0
 All kinds of stoke in those photos! Nice work.
  • 2 0
 Why is Nino not wearing the rainbow stripes on his jersey???
  • 1 0
 I was wondering this too.
  • 1 0
 He wears the world cup leader jersey
  • 1 0
 That f*ugly thing around his shoulders is the new World Cup leader jersey. Not to be mistaken as Polish national jersey...
  • 1 0
 That is absurd. World Champs jersey should always be the top jersey. The rainbow jersey should always be at those races if the current winner is racing.
  • 1 0
 @ianswilson815: that jersey has not been received well by anyone on the circuit. Some Swiss marketing agency cooked it up. Even cost big $. As for always racing the world champs jersey, there is something to be said for both. It should be visible that he is both World Cup leader as well as World Champion, but considering this is the World Cup, the latter will prevail here.
  • 1 0
 I agree that both have a place, but he wears number 1 for a reason at these races. Does that not already portray enough that he is currently leading the circuit? I do not know of another discipline that a circuit leader's jersey trumps the rainbow stripes. I mean granted it is the world cup, but seems like more of a marketing gimmick than anything else.
  • 1 0
 @ianswilson815: I agree. This monster of a jersey is terrible. Sure enough the leader should be easy to distinguish, but more subtle methods can be utilised.
  • 2 0
 Nino its awsm!
  • 1 1
 Is Nino riding a 29er? I thought he normally rides 27,5" hardtails and full suspension bikes.
  • 3 0
 No, that's definitely a 27.5.
  • 1 0
 Was waiting for a shot of Nino wall riding that wooden corner.
  • 1 0
 Awesome spread. Big Grin
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