Photo Epic: This Is It - XCO World Championships Vallnord 2015

Sep 6, 2015
by Irmo Keizer  
Fog lifted as nerves started twitching around La Massana. Elite race day. It all accumulates to this one day. One chance for a jersey desired by many yet won by few. Crowds gather as clouds disperse. Welcome to elite race day.

Prior to starting the women's race, it was extremely hard to call today's winner. We've seen Annika Langvad in incredible form lately. Irina Kalienteva is always a podium contender, Jolanda Neff, Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjaa, Catharine Pendrel. Shuffle the pack and draw a card. The women are off.

Vive la France. Pauline Ferrand-Prevot rocks les Bleus .
Vive la France. Pauline Ferrand-Prevot rocks 'les Bleus'.

This guy clearly knew what was going on this morning before the women s race.
This guy clearly knew what was going on this morning before the women's race.

With a course still wet and slick tyre choice remained uncertain up untill the very last minute. Yana Belemoina decided to ditch her mud tyres on the line.
With a course still wet and slick, tyre choice remained uncertain up untill the very last minute. Yana Belemoina decided to ditch her mud tyres on the line.

Women s start.
Women's start.

Jolanda Neff just didn t have the legs and the lungs today. Neff finished ninth.
Jolanda Neff just didn't have the legs and the lungs today, although she was off to a blazing start. Neff finished ninth.

Catharine Pendrel took the lead after the start lap rippin the field apart. Maja Wloszczowska follows swiftly.
Catharine Pendrel took the lead after the start lap, ripping the field apart. Maja Wloszczowska follows swiftly.

Irina got caught up on the technical uphill and had to run the descent on the first lap.
Irina got caught up on the technical uphill and had to run the descent on the first lap.

Yana Belomoina may have had the ride of the race. The Ukrainian finished third.
Yana Belomoina may have had the ride of the race.

Pauline Ferrand-Prevot
After Catharine Pendrel's blazing start, it was an unleashed Pauline Ferrand-Prevot who set the pace and rode away from the field.

Irina Kalentyeva steered clear of traffic for the majority of the race and rode strong to finish second.
Irina Kalentyeva steered clear of traffic for the majority of the race and rode strong to finish second.

Some sections were so slick with mud that more riders dismounted than rode through.
Some sections were so slick with mud that more riders dismounted than rode through.

Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjaa refused to get out of Maja Wloszczowska s way as she walks down the course s most technical descent. It cost the Polish rider quite some time.
Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjaa refused to get out of Maja Wloszczowska's way as she walks down the course's most technical descent. It cost the Polish rider quite some time.

Catharine Pendrel was in third place when she slid out. Peddler wasn t able to make it back to third but she finished fifth.
Catharine Pendrel was in third place when she slid out. Pendrel wasn't able to make it back to third, but she finished fifth.

Yana Belemoina powers up the grass climb as she overtakes Gunn-Rita.
Yana Belemoina powers up the grass climb as she overtakes Gunn-Rita.

Emily Batty rode to seventh place today.
Emily Batty rode to seventh place today.

Pauline Ferrand Prevot had CX and Road championship wins to her name now she has XC as well.
Pauline Ferrand Prevot has CX, and Road Championship wins to her name, now she has XC as well.

Apping spectating photographing right from the chairlift.
Apping, spectating, photographing right from the chairlift. What a team.

Pauline had the lungs and the legs today.
Pauline had the lungs and the legs today.

Gunn Rita finished fourth and collapsed after she crossed the line.
Gunn Rita finished fourth and collapsed after she crossed the line.

Maja fought hard and battled up front all race. She finished in 6th but watch this girl for next year.
Maja fought hard and battled up front all race. She finished in 6th.

The scars of battle. Tape on one knee blood on the other.
The scars of battle. Tape on one knee, blood on the other.

Women s Podium.
Women's Podium.

Biting medals is totally 2015.
Biting medals is totally 2015.

Six laps was a bit long for the women's field, causing them to ride for almost two hours. The men had to race the same amount of laps, on a course which had dried quite a bit. As with the women, the winner was all but certain. The Schurter-Absalon battle was a safe call, but could Manuel Fumic or Florian Vogel surprise friend and foe?

Absalon focused on the job ahead.
Absalon focused on the job ahead.

Speedtucking at the start demonstrated by Lukas Flueckiger.
Speedtucking at the start, demonstrated by Lukas Flueckiger.

Absalon fought hard to ride away from Schurter in lap 3 4 and 5. Schurter never lost sight and managed to claw back.
Absalon fought hard to ride away from Schurter. Schurter never lost sight and managed to claw back.

Once again Absalon and Schurter battled for top honours.
Once again, Absalon and Schurter battled for top honours.

Fierce racing everywhere. Flueckiger and Avancini ride side by side
Fierce racing everywhere. Naef and Fontana ride side by side. Ralph Naef rode to an impressive 7th.

Nino Schurter slaying the off camber roots.
Nino Schurter slaying the off camber roots.

One of many to slide out South African William Mokgopo takes a tumble on one of the trickiest part of the course.
One of many to slide out, South African William Mokgopo takes a tumble on one of the trickiest parts of the course.

Carlos Coloma rode a strong race to finish 11th. The crowds cheered the rider on.
Carlos Coloma rode a strong race to finish 11th. The crowds cheered the rider on.

Manuel Fumic had quite a few slips he managed to ride this one out rodeo style.
Manuel Fumic had quite a few slips, he managed to ride this one out rodeo style.

Crowds and fans everywhere.
Crowds and fans everywhere today in La Massana.

Ondrej Cink finished third and even had Nino chasing him for a moment.
Ondrej Cink finished third and even had Nino chasing him for a moment.

Mathias Fluckiger on his way to a fifth place finish.
Mathias Fluckiger on his way to a fifth place finish.

Mathias went down and smacked his knee pretty solidly but still finished fifth.
Mathias went down and smacked his knee pretty solidly.

Jose Hermida was not too happy about his tyre choice after the race.
Jose Hermida was not too happy about his tyre choice after the race.

Nino Schurter pushes hard as he tries to increase his lead on Julien Absalon. Schurter proved to be stronger on the descents helping him to take the win in Andorra.
Nino Schurter pushes hard as he tries to increase his lead on Julien Absalon. Schurter proved to be stronger on the descents, helping him to take the win in Andorra.

World Champion once again
World Champion once again!

Exhausted after a hard a battle. having to settle for second.
Exhausted after a hard a battle. having to settle for second.

You don t often see Nino looked gassed at the end of a race but he left it all out there today.
You don't often see Nino looked gassed at the end of a race, but he left it all out there today.

Vogel and Fluckiger greet each other after the race.
Vogel and Fluckiger greet each other after the race.

Your World Champions. Nino Schurter and Pauline Ferrand-Prevot.
Your World Champions. Nino Schurter and Pauline Ferrand-Prevot.

Tears of joy were shed as today's races ended. We've witnessed some tremendous racing as riders fought for that much wanted title. The XCO riders headed off for their after party, and today marks race day for the downhillers. With a course unforgiving and long, riders are poised to prove themselves, prepare yourself for another exciting day of World Championships racing in Andorra.



About the Photographers


Irmo Keizer • Age: 36 • Years Shooting: 10
Irmo Keizer has been mountain biking since high school. Irmo loves nature, technical trails and landscapes and dislikes too many race lines and fire roads. Irmo has a strong passion for all sorts of mountain bike disciplines ranging from cross country, to enduro and downhill. Combining his passion of mountain biking and photography ten years ago, Irmo has been working as a photographer/editor in mountain biking ever since.


Matthew Delorme • Age: 40 • Years Shooting: 8
Matthew DeLorme is just one of Pinkbike’s motley crew of World Cup Photographers. He currently lives out of a Ogio bag, and calls the road his home. Delorme works for Trek Bicycle, covering their MTB racing programs. He can usually be found laying in the dirt trackside, cracking jokes and saying things that make little to no sense. He enjoys capturing accessory moments and the journey every bit as much as catching the action shot.



47 Comments

  • + 149
 I don't care what anyone thinks about UCI and XC, those athletes are beasts and their sport pushes them to limits that you only see in a few other disciplines. I stopped racing XC a wile ago but I still love this sport and pinkbike made an awesome coverage once again! Amazing pics!
  • + 74
 PB's covering on XC is getting so much better. thank you for these posts.
  • + 37
 Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjaa refused to get out of Maja Wloszczowska's way

Well, quite unacceptable behavior….
  • + 5
 Not very sporting I agree
  • + 4
 No-one is obliged to move if you are both making progress on the racing line and racing for position, be it running or riding at different speeds
  • + 35
 The caption does not accurately grab what was happening. Maja was holding Gunn-Rita up the descents before Gunn-Rita had run around her when Maja crashed for the third time on the descent and then Maja got up and was behind her. If you are going to post negative captions get your facts right.
  • + 12
 @WhatAboutBob I can not be everywhere at once, but thanks for that info. In that case Maja vs Gunn-Rita ends in a 1-1 tie.
  • + 3
 @ikeizer just keep it positive. Your photo's are awesome!!
  • + 10
 Cheers @WhatAboutBob. Luckily mountainbiking is a positive world. Atmosphere amongst riders/staff/media is awesome.
  • + 1
 If you watched the full race, she did that a few times, getting off the bike to push it while blocking riders behind her. This picture is just one of those times.
  • + 23
 google search Pauline Ferrand-Prévot.
  • + 7
 *switch to image results*
  • + 8
 *Incognito*
  • - 1
 Pauline > Emily Batty
  • - 2
 The whole podium looks pretty dang good
  • + 18
 I'm sure that all the female athletes on the podium appreciate being told that they are attractive as do most people but I can't help but feeling that this particular comment thread detracts from the female riders massive athletic achievement. Lets celebrate these women for being hard as nails champions and not objectify them. Rant over. Great coverage of the event.
  • + 10
 @vonplatz - rather than image search, I checked out the wiki. I had no idea! Like a female Merckx. (can we say that?).

"During the 2015 season, aged just 23, Pauline Ferrand-Prévot became the first person ever - in the history of cycling - to simultaneously hold the World road title, World cyclo-cross title and World mountain bike title."

That's an amazing feat.
  • + 1
 Her road/CX teammate, Marianne Vos, has held road and CX world titles simultaneously three times. 2006, 2012, 2013. Seven time CX world champ. Olympic points race champ in 2008, Olympic road race champ 2012. Plus a couple of national titles on the MTB in her spare time.
  • + 10
 Blood, sweat and... smiles! nice job, thanks PB!
  • + 6
 Wow. Pauline Ferrand-Prévot won the 2014 Road Race World Championship, 2015 Cyclocross World Championship and now the 2015 Mountain Bike World Championship. She currently holds all three jerseys. And she's only 23.
  • + 8
 Nino is a beast on the downhill
  • + 5
 It must nice for the Swiss riders that their gear is made by Assos. There are a lot of clothing companies that could learn a lot from looking at how they make their clothing.
  • + 6
 Awesome photos! Chapeau aux photographes
  • + 1
 Thanks much appreciated
  • + 5
 the coach of absalon is walter white?
  • + 2
 Great pics and well done to all!
I see quite a few of the ladies using their middle finger to brake. Any reasoning behind that?
  • + 3
 What the heck happened to Fontana - swapping out the baggies for a pair of lycra shorts? Could the tides be turning? Nah!
  • + 3
 National team provides the kit - they obviously didn't make baggies. Fontana or Fumic (cant remember who) actually wore their regular Prologo/Cdale baggies with their national team jersey one year. I guess there were told not to do it again.
  • + 5
 xc = brutal
  • + 3
 Epic pictures! Cudos to Pinkbike for covering the XC this year
  • + 2
 brütal course. f*ck yo body armor!
  • + 3
 Very Nice Pictures
  • + 1
 1) who the hell is Ondrej Cink? 2) Jaroslav...?
  • + 4
 Jaroslav got problems at the first lap, and that's his end.
  • + 3
 He's the dude that almost won at Andorra two years ago. Was off the front solo the entire race, got nipped by Nino for 1st in the last 2km, IIRC.
  • + 1
 He was going strong at Val di Sole as well, but had physical issues so dropped out.
  • + 2
 JK got broken rib. In Val di Sole got Ondrej 250 heart rate
  • + 1
 Eh? 250 heart rate?
  • + 2
 Jaro is a bit of a baby I think. I get it that he hurt himself and pulled out of this one (or did he hurt himself) but if the conditions dont suit him it seems he tries to get out of it. There was a race in 2012 that he wasnt doing well in , and just left the course and didnt come back for a few hours. Absalon raced South Africa with broken ribs and still managed to fight his way to 6th place. Thats the kind of rider sponsors need.

Im really liking Cink. Glad he got the national champ win too.
  • + 2
 Cink will never beat Nino if the decents are technical. He's a terrible descender. Fumic was catching him every lap on the descents even though he was crashing!
  • + 0
 Lukas Flueckiger isn't speedtucking; he's presenting.
  • - 2
 The podium girls look great!
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