Pinkbike Primer - Everything You Need to Know Ahead of the Vallnord World Cup XC

Jul 4, 2019
by Ed Spratt  
Nino gave it his all today nut today it just wasn t enough.

For the third round of the 2019 World Cup XC season, we return to Vallnord. This venue always throws up some of the best racing because of its unique challenge, riding at altitude. The track which sits 1900m above sea level puts a strain on the riders as they push the red line throughout the race. Some opt to stay at altitude for the week before the race to acclimatise and others arrive as close to the race as possible to limit the effects. Either way, you can expect some of the best racing and some very tired riders at the end of the weekend.

The track

We aren't expecting many changes to the course in Vallnord but so far this year the course designers have liked to throw in a few changes like the pump track section in Nove Mesto or the controversial wooden sections at Albstadt. For those that prefer a more traditional course with both challenging ascents and descents then Vallnord has it all with plenty of rock features and some of the toughest climbs riders will face all year.

Previous winners

Vallnord has been featured on the World Cup circuit since 2013 with it missing a year in 2014 before hosting the World Championships. Since 2015 it has been in every World Cup season with Nino Schurter being the only rider to appear dominant at the venue.


Elite Men: Nino Schurter
Elite Women: Sabine Spitz


Elite Men: Julien Absalon
Elite Women: Jolanda Neff


Elite Men: Nino Schurter
Elite Women: Yana Belomoina


Elite Men: Gerhard Kerschbaumer
Elite Women: Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa

2015 World Championships:

Elite Men: Nino Schurter
Elite Women: Pauline Ferrand Prevot

Last round recap

Weather forecast

The forecast for this weekend is mixed and it's looking quite likely that we might see some wet conditions on the track.

Friday, July 5 - Short Track
Sunny // 25°C // 1% precipitation // wind 6km/h // 9km/h gusts

Saturday, July 6 - Practice
Sunny // 22°C // 25% precipitation // wind 11km/h // 18km/h gusts

Sunday, July 7 - Under 23 Men, Under 23 Women, Elite Men, Elite Women
A thunderstorm in the area // 20°C // 55% precipitation // wind 11km/h // 26km/h gusts

Weather forecast as of Tuesday, July 2. Live updates from Accuweather.


Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjaa 45 years of age. 71 podiums in World Cups including today. 30 World Cup wins.

All times CEST

Thursday July 4
• 12:00-14:00 // Official XCO Training - Women Under 23 and Elite
• 14:00-16:00 // Official XCO Training - Men Under 23 and Elite

Friday July 5
• 09:30-11:00 // Official XCO Training - Women Under 23 and Elite
• 11:00-12:30 // Official XCO Training - Men Under 23 and Elite
• 12:30-14:30 // Official XCO Training - All riders
• 15:45-16:30 // Official XCC Training - Women
• 16:300-17:15 // Official XCC Training - Men
• 17:30 // World Cup Cross-country Short Track - Women
• 18:15 // World Cup Cross-country Short Track - Men

Saturday July 6
• 09:30-11:30 // Official XCO Training - Women
• 11:00-13:30 // Official XCO Training - Men
• 13:30-14:30 // Official XCO Training - All riders

Sunday July 7
• 08:30 // World Cup Cross-country Olympic - Women Under 23
• 10:15 // World Cup Cross-country Olympic - Men Under 23
• 12:20 // World Cup Cross-country Olympic - Women Elite - Followed by Awards
• 14:50 // World Cup Cross-country Olympic - Men Elite - Followed by Awards

Note: All times are local and subject to change by the UCI/event organiser.

How to watch

Pinkbike will be providing you with the best daily coverage from our team of photographers in Andorra this week. Tune in to Pinkbike to catch photo epics, results, news and tech.

All the elite races can be streamed live on

(All times in CEST, replay available immediately following the races)

- Vallnord XCC Women and Men: Friday, July 5 - 5:20pm (7:20am PDT, 10:20am EDT, 4:20pm GMT, 02:20am NZST)

- Vallnord XCO Women: Sunday, May 26 - 11:00am (2:00am PDT, 5:00am EDT, 10:00am GMT, 9:00pm NZST)
- Vallnord XCO Men: Sunday, May 26 - 1:30pm (4:30am PDT, 7:30am EDT, 12:30pm GMT, 11:30pm NZST)

Note: These times are subject to change. Please check with your local provider.

Pinkbike Predictions

“Nino Schurter will be back with a vengeance after losing out to MVDP at the last round, after a few weeks off from racing he will be looking to secure the win in Andorra. Gerhard Kerschbaumer put in an amazing performance in Vallnord last year and even managed to beat Schurter, he will be looking to repeat his win and prove his speed after a tough start to the season. Henrique Avancini is always at the top of the field and I predict he will complete the top three in Andorra, he came fourth behind MVDP here last year and with the Dutch rider sitting out the next few World Cups Avancini will want to prove himself once again.

Jolanda Neff hasn't had the start to the season she would have wanted but she has a history of doing well on the Andorran course so expect to see her at the front of the race from the very beginning. After two back to back wins you have to include Kate Courtney but I think Neff's greater experience on the course and dealing with the altitude will give her the edge come race day. It will be great to see which of these fast women will take the win because it really could be either of them. For the third pick, you can't rule out Yana Belomoina who has won here multiple times as an Elite and Junior rider. She has had a great start to the season so far and I expect her to back it up with another top finish in Vallnord."

1 // Nino SCHURTER
3 // Henrique AVANCINI
1 // Jolanda NEFF
2 // Kate COURTNEY

Fantasy League

Don't forget to complete your XC Fantasy team before racing kicks off. If you don't know who to pick, check out last round's results for Short Track and Olympic for some idea as to who's going fast.

The Fantasy XC League is Presented by Trek and SRAM.

MENTIONS: @trek / @SramMedia

Regions in Article
Vallnord Bike Park


  • 12 0
 unfortunate that MVDP has to rest occasionally. I guess that's what happens when you race 43 cx races straight into road classics straight into mtb...
  • 9 0
 He's insane Best cyclist on the planet
  • 2 0
 "MVDP has to rest occasionally"... (sarcastic emphasis added) I'm pretty sure his rest is my full gas. Razz
  • 2 0
 @mtbikeaddict: If that's true you are an amazing rider Big Grin
  • 1 0
 @Ronkol: lol Bwahaha well done... ouch... thanks? Confused
  • 1 0
 @Ronkol: Lol I meant his rest rest, like not racing or anything, maybe napping. Still... hmm. Definitely not resting in a race as in steady just not 100%
  • 1 0

It was in good humor Smile
  • 4 0
 Looks like a pretty brutal course.
  • 3 0
 For those interested, Bart Wawak posted a full length lap preview of the 2019 XCO course:
  • 2 0
 Thank you Jamminator.
  • 2 0
 Looks like a proper xc course without the need for manufactured rugged sections. Was wondering for a while about all the climbs on gravel or grass, but I see there are some uphills on natural terrain with roots and rocks also.
  • 4 0
 lets do it AVANCINNI
  • 3 0
 Bec Henderson to podium, and hopefully medal!
  • 1 0
 Jolanda isn’t typically the greatest at altitude due to her racing style. I can’t see this being the race she will win...
  • 2 1
 Why in the world would the majority of misses choose to ride a hardtail on a technical course like this?
  • 3 0
 Many of them only weigh 50 kilos or so, and there's a lot of climbing in Andorra.
  • 1 0
 Beat me to it. That is baddd… Salute I would be opting for the full-sus no question... guess that shows my skill level Facepalm lol
  • 4 0
 Agreed. Along with being lighter a HT is also more efficient than a FS. More power gets to the ground with each turn of the cranks. With a base altitude of just over 6,200' and lots of long relatively smooth climbs it seems to be a logical choice. Lungs will be burning and rationing energy will be a big part of race strategy. From the video Jamminator posted I only saw a couple of spots where a FS would be a big advantage but many spots where the HT would.
  • 1 0
 @Jamminator: Maybe I'm just completely ignorant (*maybe* Razz ) but wouldn't the lighter weight part be a reason for FS on tech? I would think that would mean the impacts would affect the bike and rider more, where a solid rider could muscle through. I only ask b/c as a very light rider on an xc hardtail trying to ride aggressive gravity stuff, I've noticed drastic differences whenever I've used a friend's FS. Smile
  • 1 0
 @mtbikeaddict: Going uphill he added weight of using a full suspension bike for a light rider is proportionally larger, affecting their power to weight ratio more, thus affecting the pace uphill more (assuming a smooth climb).
Weather a full suspension is a larger advantage for a smaller rider in tough terrain is a bit more of a toss up. Larger unsprung to sprung mass would make the suspension less active but that's probably a small effect. It can probably be argued that a smaller rider has less momentum and will be "thrown around" more, thus making it more important to have good suspension.
Uphill pace: Definitely more affected more for a lighter rider. Riding gnar: It's complicated.
  • 1 0
 @Sylesej: Ah. Makes more sense now... Not that I necessarily agree/understand, but better than it was. I'd think the inertial difference between rider masses is significantly more than between bike masses, and being a decent pedaler I'd take the relief on the downs vs constantly being on guard and using more energy that way, esp w/ lockouts etc, but then that's me for my limited situation and experience... Heaven knows they're better pedalers than I, and it's not like I know much of anything about carbon, power/weight, power meters, wc racing, or modern bikes in general... lol I'll just go with what you said: It's complicated. Thanks for humoring me with the chat
  • 1 0
 Pro's do not neccesarily make the best gear-decisions. There are tech geeks (DH Aaron Gwinn comes to mind), there are training geeks, but there are also pro's who just ride their bike and robotically follow the training regimen of their trainer.

You can also see this in the reluctantly slow uptake of 29"by some riders, even though for pro's these (milli)seconds are so important.

On the weight discussion:ct. The impact of weightloss of 1kg is overrated (that's not opinion, that's math). For a 50kg woman this changes a bit due to percentages, but even there weight difference of 1kg alludes to less than 2% more system weight. It matters, but it's very small... and that's the reason why when we have head-to-head tests we see things like suss, tires etc have much more impact.
  • 2 0
 There are two things to consider here:
1. XCO is a loop, not just a descent. Generally, you spend about four times longer going up a hill as down it, so if your FS bike isn't getting you 4 times the gap as your HT gets on the climbs, it's a no brainer. 2. The Short Track race determines your starting place for the XCO. You choose the bike that can sprint that last lap and get you on row 1 for the XCO. Bec Henderson had a terrible ST two races ago and spent the whole XCO fighting for overtakes (see her Instagram). Compare that to the last round where she had a good ST and medals in the XCO. Mass start races are almost always about the start.
  • 1 0
 Like @Sylesej points out, it's all about watts/kilo on the climbs. An extra 2 kilos for a FS bike is 4% of their bodyweight. "The Wall" climb in Andorra is one of the steepest climbs at all the venues this year. The lighter a rider is, the less efficient full suspension also becomes. On the contrary, the lighter the rider the more effective their tires are at acting like suspension - A 50kg woman is getting far more efficiency from a 2.1" tire than a 70kg man on same 2.1" tire, because the woman can run lower pressures and get more overall dampening than the man. And of course as @iamamodel suggests, the bike you race in XCC is the same bike you have to race in XCO. Women don't necessarily want to lug FS bikes around the short track for a potentially marginal benefit on Sunday.
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