Ending on a High: Finals - Vallnord XC World Cup 2016

Sep 4, 2016
by Irmo Keizer  



Welcome to the longest season's grand finale. A race after riders have peaked and laid it all on the line for their countries twice already and are now literally running on fumes. With the Games gone and the final race at altitude here in Andorra, it was time to see who fared best during this grueling season. The men's field yielded favorites Nino and Julien, while the women's field held more contestants, and the women elites saw some of the best racing this season. Jenny Rissveds surprised friend and for by taking the Olympic gold in Rio, catapulting her to one of the favorites in Andorra. But, first off the bat are tomorrow's champions, the U23 men:



Moments before the start riders each have their own way of zoning in.
Moments before the start, riders each have their own way of zoning in.

As the sun lights up the mountains the men s U23 field is away for their final race in 2016.
As the sun lights up the mountains, the men's U23 field is away for their final race in 2016.

SImon Andreassen took the lead as Marcel Guerrini chased.
Simon Andreassen took the lead as Marcel Guerrini chased.

Antoine Bouqueret pushed hard as he led the race in lap two.
Antoine Bouqueret pushed hard as he led the race in lap two.

Titouan Carod ended an awfully strong season with a third place and an overall World Cup victory.
Titouan Carod ended an awfully strong season with a third place and an overall World Cup victory.

Marcel Guerrini rode a solid race which saw him take the win in Andorra.
Marcel Guerrini rode a solid race, which saw him take the win in Andorra.

A long season ending on altitude. Faces of pain rolled into the finish line today. Milan Vader took 6th.
A long season, ending at altitude. Faces of pain rolled into the finish line today. Milan Vader took 6th.

:: WOMEN ::

Sina Frei dominates the women s U23 field this year. Another win and a well deserved overall World Cup title.
Sina Frei dominated the women's U23 field this year. Another win and a well-deserved overall World Cup title.

Warm up for Pendrel. Would she bring the battle to the field
Warm up for Catharine Pendrel. Would she bring the battle to the field?

The Trek Factory Racing Wolf.
The Trek Factory Racing Wolf.

Emily Batty took time to hang with her biggest Andorran fan.
Emily Batty took time to hang with her biggest Andorran fan.

Jenny Rissveds surprised friend foe and herself as she stormed to an Olympic victory in Rio.
Jenny Rissveds surprised friend, foe and herself as she stormed to an Olympic victory in Rio.

Womens Start.
Women's Elite start.

Gunn-Rita seemed to be heading for a win as she led the race for multiple laps. Ultimately the Norwegian yielded to Neff.
Gunn-Rita seemed to be heading for a win. She led the race for multiple laps, but ultimately, the Norwegian yielded to Neff.

Yana Belomoina leads Jenny Rissveds in the first lap of the race.
Yana Belomoina leads Jenny Rissveds in the first lap of the race.

Gasping for air Jolanda Neff struggled with the conditions in Andorra like all others.
Gasping for air, Jolanda Neff struggles with the conditions in Andorra like all did.

Riders making their way down one of the tricky natural downhills in the course. As soon as one needs to get of their bike others have to follow.
Riders making their way down one of the tricky natural downhills in the course. As soon as one dismounted, the others had to follow.

Neff sees Dahle-Flesjaa in her sights. Ultimately Jolanda Neff would overtake Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjaa taking an impressive win.
Jolanda Neff sees Dahle-Flesjaa in her sights. Ultimately, Neff would overtake Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjaa for an impressive win.

Jolanda Neff s had a mixed season but left not doubt as to who was strongest today.
Jolanda Neff has had a mixed season, but she left no doubt as to who was strongest today.

Maja had no major issues today and rode strong to fifth place.
Silver medalist in Rio, Maja Wloszczowska had no major issues today, riding to a strong, fifth place.

What can you say about Gunn Rita. She has the late season fitness to pull of and incredible ride.
What can you say about Gunn Rita? She had the late season fitness to pull of an incredible ride.

Catharine Pendrel peaked just right for MSA and the olympics and carried that fitness into Andorra. Pendrel took third.
Catharine Pendrel peaked just right for both MSA and the Olympics, then carried that fitness into Andorra. Pendrel took third today, winning the, overall World Cup series by a straw.

Emily Batty ended a spectacular season in third overall
Emily Batty ended a spectacular season in third overall.

Maja gasps for air and tries to cool down after a tough fight.
Maja, gasping for air, tries to cool down after a tough fight.

Annika Langvad has been one of this season s best performers. Today a crash threw her back leaving a deep gash in her shin. She finished in 13th and saw her lead in the overall standings slip away in the last race.
Annika Langvad has been one of this season's best performers. Today's crash left a deep gash in her shin - and her series points. She finished thirteenth and saw her lead in the overall standings slip away.

Ending on a High Finals - Vallnord XC World Cup 2016
Battle scars.

:: MEN ::

Absalon leaves his team stand as the race is about to get under way.
Julien Absalon leaves his team stand as his race is about to get underway.

Nino s team added some bells amp whistles to his bike prior to the start.
Nino Schurter's team added some bells and whistles to his bike prior to the start.

Marco throughs the horns durning a final stretch before go time.
Marco throws the horns during a final stretch before go time.

This man has accomplished much this year. But today he wouldn t take the trifecta.
This man has accomplished much this year. A perfect ride saw him taking an uncontested Olympic gold in Rio while arch-rival Absalon faded.

Mens start.
Men's start.

Carlos Coloma had the race of his career in Rio as he took home the bronze medal. In Andorra he raced away from the field in the first lap.
Carlos Coloma had the race of his career in Rio, taking home the bronze medal. In Andorra, he raced away from the field in the first lap.

Ondrej Cink was out like lightning took the lead for a spell and didn t fade. He took second today.
Ondrej Cink was also out like lightning. He shared the lead for a while and didn't fade. He took second today.

Rodriguez dives into the most technical section of the track.
Rodriguez dives into the most technical section of the track.

Stephane Tempier has had a solid season on the world cup. He digs deep on the big climb to take fifth.
Stephane Tempier has had a solid season on the World Cup. He digs deep on the big climb to take fifth.

The classic battle. It seems balance won out in the end. Is there only so much gold one man can carry in a season
The classic battle: Absalon leading Schurter this time. It seems balance won out in the end. There's only so much gold one man can carry in a season.

Ondrej Cink gets caught by Julien Absalon and Nino Schurter. Absalon would power away moments after.
Ondrej Cink gets caught by Julien Absalon and Nino Schurter. Absalon would power away moments after.

Ending on a High Finals - Vallnord XC World Cup 2016
Schurter chased Absalon, but had to let go after a flat in lap five.

Pablo Rodriguez brought home third on behalf of the Spanish boys.
Pablo Rodriguez brought home third on behalf of the Spanish boys.

Julien Absalon had both the lungs and the legs today.
Julien Absalon had both the lungs and the legs today.

Maxime Marotte feeling the burn in his lungs and legs after a hard fought race to fourth.
Maxime Marotte, feeling the burn in his lungs and legs after a hard-fought race to fourth.

There were plenty of shattered warriors against the barricades at the end of the day.
There were plenty of shattered warriors against the barricades at the end of the day.

The cheers for Julien were massive.
The cheers for Julien were massive.

Cedric Gracia pours campagne into Jose Hermida s glass.
Cedric Gracia pours champagne into Jose Hermida's glass.

The end of and era. Say what you will about spandex vs. baggies Minnaar Peaty and Cedric came out and welcomed home Jose on his last world cup with so much style and respect. It was a proper end to and emotional week. Thanks boys.
The end of and era. Say what you will about spandex vs. baggies, Minnaar, Peaty, and Cedric came out to welcome home Jose Hermida on his last World Cup. So much style and respect. It was a proper end to an emotional week. Thanks boys!

Hermida fans were out in force.
Hermida fans were out in force - a proper send off.

A disappointed Schurter settled for 8th.
A disappointed Schurter settled for eighth.

Taking home another trophy.
Julien takes home another trophy.

So long from Andorra. That s a wrap on XC this year but time flies and we will be seeing you soon.
So long from Andorra. That's a wrap on XC this year, but time flies. We will be back soon.

So an Olympic season comes to an end. We've witnessed some incredible racing, saw legends say farewell and new stars being born. See you in 2017!


Muchas gracias Jose!







67 Comments

  • + 87
 If your're walking your bike it should be a rule that you have to let riders past. That shits lame
  • + 11
 Agreed. Looks like the weirdest thing to me.
  • + 8
 They should just have a b line and if you do the A line, you have to ride it.
  • + 4
 @Rabbuit: They generally do but people still get held up on the main lines due to crashes or not wanting to take the slower b line
  • - 2
 That would be dumb, Non enforceable, trivial rule
  • + 5
 once there's a pile up, its often faster to get off and run your bike, lame or not. if you happen to be running your bike you are not going to let people by, that's just silly.
  • + 0
 I agree. That picture made me sad. If you can't ride it, it seems ridiculous that the people behind you who can (because they are better bikers) should have to walk too. It's not a good look for women's mtb - and I am a huge advocate for women's sports.
  • + 10
 The problem with rules like this is that these rock gardens are extremely difficult to ride cleanly every time. Especially in the first lap, people get all bunched up and are forced to get off. Even the best riders will bobble and slow everyone else down. Even Nino has messed up a rock garden or two in his lifetime. It's just a part of racing
  • + 1
 Ya like blue flags, then time penalty for disobeying them.
  • + 5
 @jrocksdh: yeah, don't be ridiculous.
  • + 4
 I'm guessing most of the them CAN ride it; they got held up, slowed or stopped by traffic jams. I'm also guessing most people commenting have never done a mass start race and experienced a bottleneck before.
  • + 0
 @LeDuke: I'm sure most people on here have done a XC race before and enjoyed the fun of the first lap traffic. In the photo it certainly doesnt look like a bottle neck situation and even so, all the organisers would have to do is close the a line for the first lap so the riders can spread out. My point is, you should have to ride the features or do the B line. That will enocurage people to have more skill, take more risks, start running droppers or longer travel rigs, which will make it more exciting. If i was capable of riding a section and had to dismount becuase the person infront of me was walking I'd be annoyed.
  • + 2
 @Rabbuit: Its racing. Shit happens. Its more likely to have been caused by a bottle neck at the top or someone crashing at the bottom and people opting to run it
  • + 16
 First year that I began watching XC again... Fantastic racing and riding.. Great courses and viewing.. So much respect for the riders
  • + 13
 So now we wait to see of Hermida will start racing EWS...
  • + 0
 Hahahha, ROFLMAO.
  • + 10
 So Absalon has won the same amount of world cup races as both Peaty and Vouilloz combined. Thats how good the guy is.
  • + 7
 Thanks for the outstanding coverage and pictures throughout the season Pinkbike! This site is the best, and it is the first site I log into to start my day. Oh, I am Whistler Bound in Two freakin' days!!!!!
  • + 10
 So good having this coverage! Thanks PB
  • + 9
 ninos bike is seriously the coolest thing ive ever seen
  • + 7
 No doubt he has a nice bike. But I'm pretty sure he hates his rear tire today.
  • + 5
 I agree. It's the sickest XC race bike I've seen by far.
  • + 1
 @Coyotecrash: and it's not the first time this season! If i remember well, on one WC this season he flatted twice!
  • + 7
 Umm, the picture has Shurter as 8th...but the official rankings have him down as 13th, with fontana as 8th.
  • + 3
 3.30 AM typo. Oops.
  • + 6
 Awesome coverage PB!
  • + 3
 @ occam15 Team Scott definitely read your response to my previous comment!
www.pinkbike.com/news/rio-2016-xco-mens-race.html
  • + 2
 Edge of the seat moment. When Pablo Rodriguez put his arms up claiming third place, and seeing Maxime Marotte nearly taking it from him sprinting behind him to the line.
  • + 2
 I want a trek factory racing wolf.. saw and immediately scrolled to comments section to post. Now to go back through to read the rest
  • + 4
 Those new adidas sunglasses are seriously hideous.
  • + 1
 They seem to be everywhere at the moment. One minute everyone's wearing Jawbreakers, next thing it's these. Maybe Adidas are giving them out.
  • + 1
 Beating the EVZeros to the top of the heap of hideous by a small margin...
  • + 1
 @BorisBC35: To their sponsored athletes, yes. But they can ride other glasses as well.
  • - 1
 Nino on the maxxis aspen tire. And a flat one. He changed from Dugast to Maxxis because he want's less flat tires. An important change with a bad end. I hope Maxxis can restore the confidence. Congrats to Julien, what a great rider. And Nino, now you have a goal for next year. Thx to the riders a great xc year.
  • + 1
 The dugasts look way better. Will be interesting what the team are on next year
  • + 0
 He should go Continental Smile
  • + 3
 No such thing as a puncture-proof XC tyre. Want it indestructible? Then you won't win many XC races with it.
  • + 2
 @recipher: correct, light weight and puncture proof isn't a good marriage.
  • + 1
 Seems to me he had a pretty solid track record on Dugast; not any unusual number of flats over the years. He started flatting out when he switched from 27.5 to 29er wheels. Probably just coincidence though...
  • + 4
 Said it before but I'll say it again. The reason he's rear flatting is no dropper. He's an immense descender but that extra amount of space between ass and saddle with a small dropper would allow him to descend with bent rather than straight legs and absorb more square edge in the process.
  • + 1
 @jclnv: makes sense
  • + 1
 The Dugast tires were tubular. I don't think those Maxxis tires are though. Might be one explanation. Tubular rims are pretty blunt and less likely to pinch.
  • + 1
 @Someoldfart: I'm wondering if he isn't using dugast because he doesn't like the current 29er dt swiss tubular wheels
  • + 1
 @ikeizer: He hasn't exactly said anything publicly why. Jenny is on 650b and using dugast still.
  • + 3
 Anyone know what happened to Sam Gaze?
  • - 1
 He's a u23, PB didn't cover that race
  • + 2
 @GH29orBust: yea they did look at the start of the article. Just not well
  • + 1
 So much respect for these racers. Gunn Rita still racing? Incredible. And that shot of Absalon's legs. Silky smooth
  • + 2
 Racing and fast as hell.
  • + 2
 Great coverage PB! Todo lo mejor Jose!
  • + 1
 can anyone tell me what brand of clear lens glasses Marcel is wearing? 6th pic from the top
  • + 1
 Adidas
  • + 1
 Neff is back, glad to know her back issues didn't seem to bother her this race, and she still rode a hardtail! Nice
  • + 1
 No she didn't.
  • + 1
 @jclnv: guess I must have not looked closr enough
  • + 3
 She said in the post race interview that the FS bike was also part of the solution for her back pain problems.
  • + 1
 @tigerteeuwen: not that it was doing much. Thing look locked out.
  • + 1
 Doesn't the Stoeckli and the Orbeas fullys look very similar? Anyone who knows anything about it?
  • + 1
 I'm assuming Nino took the overall though? You'd think they would say something in the article...
  • + 1
 Well behind Julien. Nino skipped MSA, which Julien won.
  • + 1
 I can't get the replays to work on Red Bull Tv Frown
  • + 1
 Nice dense and chewy B&W @mdelormephoto!!
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