Back in the Game: U23 Men and Women - Vallnord XC World Cup 2017

Jul 2, 2017 at 15:07
by Irmo Keizer  




After the dust and drama had settled on yesterday’s red hot downhill action it was the turn for the cross-country riders to take centre stage. Racers would have been relieved to discover a bluebird day waiting for them when they drew the curtains, perfect conditions for one and a half hours of flat out toe to toe competition.

The U23 women found a greasy track waiting for them with the sun late to break over the mountains to burn the last of the moisture from the surface. An intriguing battle developed between the leading three in the championship, but when it all shook out they found themselves in reverse order to their current rankings. Initially, Evie Richards and Kate Courtney made a two rider breakaway out front swapping positions but crucially with Sina Frei sitting back and keeping a careful watch on the leading pair before making her move. When the timing beam was broken the gap was more than a minute between Frei and Courtney with Richards a further forty odd seconds back.

The men’s race was in no way less thrilling than its predecessor. Two rather obvious points of conversation were the fall of series leader Petter Fagerhaug who dropped down into a lowly 54th place, and in stark contrast the mighty rise of Simon Andreassen who found his feet after struggling with back problems to smash the ball out the park and clinch a fantastic win. He didn’t have it his own way however with Alan Hatherly pushing him hard to the line as a trio of riders fought over third behind them, a sprint finish seeing Martins Blums taking the spot with Nadir Colledani and Vlad Dascalu in behind - all great performances.

Barely a cloud in the sky perfect conditions for a day of gruelling XC action.
Barely a cloud in the sky, perfect conditions for a day of grueling XC action.

Kate Courtney getting in the zone before a race long battle.
Kate Courtney getting in the zone before a race long battle.

8.30 AM starts. Good morning Andorra
8.30 AM starts. Good morning Andorra!

The only way to escape the pre-race pressure and attention is to crank the music up and zone out.
The only way to escape the pre-race pressure and attention is to crank the music up and zone out.

Eventual winner Sina Frei gets her call up to the grid.
Sina Frei gets her call up to the grid.

It was Brit Evie Richards who grabbed the initial lead off the finish line straight before her and Courtney would swap being the pace setter.
It was Brit Evie Richards who grabbed the initial lead off the finish line straight before her and Courtney would swap being the pace setter.

Evie Richards making a move on one of many punchy climbs.
Evie Richards making a move on one of many punchy climbs.

Early on the battle looked to be a 2 way fight between Richards and Courtney with Sina Frei sitting back and observing from a distance.
Early on the battle looked to be a two-way fight between Richards and Courtney with Sina Frei sitting back and observing from a distance.

Evie Richards leading.
Evie Richards leading.

Sina Frei played the game perfectly today not getting sucked into the lead battle too early biding her time before ultimately dominating by over a minute.
Sina Frei played the game perfectly today, not getting sucked into the lead battle too early, biding her time before ultimately dominating by over a minute.

Kate Courtney rode smoothly in the slippery downhills.
Kate Courtney rode smoothly in the slippery downhills.

The best support for the Brits.
The best support for the Brits.

A good ride from Anna Spielmann into 9th place.
A good ride from Anna Spielmann into 9th place.

Evie Richards digging deep in pursuit of the leading two.
Evie Richards digging deep in pursuit of the leading two.

Haley Batten matching her number board with a 7th place.
Haley Batten matching her number board with a 7th place.

This is what an hour and sixteen minutes of Andorran racing looks like.
This is what an hour and sixteen minutes of Andorran racing looks like.

Sina Frei was in a class of her own.
Sina Frei was in a class of her own.

Vallnord XC World Cup
Minutes after the last U23 female rider rode in, the men's U23 field is ready to go.

The overall leader coming into Vallnord Petter Fagerhaug had a nightmare ride into a distant 54th.
The overall leader coming into Vallnord Petter Fagerhaug at the start.

Simon Andreassen about to unleash hell on the Vallnord course.
Simon Andreassen about to unleash hell on the Vallnord course.

It was Georg Egger who got the jump on the chasing pack.A c
It was Georg Egger who got the jump on the chasing pack.

Vallnord XC World Cup
The fire road climb back to the skislope is a tough cookie.

A close opening lap seen Alan Hatherly right on the wheel tracks of Andreassen.
A close opening lap seen Alan Hatherly right on the wheel tracks of Andreassen.

Nadir Colledani had a strong ride but will be disappointed to be pipped to 3rd on the dash to the line.
Nadir Colledani had a strong ride but will be disappointed to be pipped to 3rd on the dash to the line.

Vallnord XC World Cup
Game of Woods.

Vallnord XC World Cup
Andreassen was back to his old self today.

Petter Fagerhaug making his way down.
Petter Fagerhaug making his way down.

Danish Sebastian Sebastian Carstensen Fini struggled today but fought like a lion.
Danish Sebastian Sebastian Carstensen Fini struggled today but fought like a lion.

Vlad Dascalu makes light work of the course s most technical descent.
Vlad Dascalu makes light work of the course's most technical descent.

Hatherly giving Andreassen no quarter.
Hatherly giving Andreassen no quarter.

Vallnord XC World Cup

Up untill the last laps these three battled for the win.
Up until the last laps these three battled for the win.

Everyone was kept guessing until the dying moments but it was Simon Andreassen who had the most left in the tank.
Everyone was kept guessing until the final moments but it was Simon Andreassen who had the most left in the tank.

The scrap for third was intense with Martins Blums holding on by a slender margin.
The scrap for third was intense with Martins Blums holding on by a slender margin.

When you leave it all on the hill.
When you leave it all on the hill.


MENTIONS: @ikeizer / @rossbellphoto




10 Comments

  • + 2
 >A close opening lap seen Alan Hatherly right on the wheel tracks of Andreassen.

Thats Martins Blums, not Hatherly.
  • + 1
 Why is there a u23 in xc racing I feel like most sports athletes make the jump to the pro field at a younger age.
  • + 5
 Until recently u23 riders haven't been able to be competitive enough when racing in elite. There's certainly enough difference still to warrant it as an age group
  • + 1
 @rrsport: very interesting...what age is considered to be your prime for xc?
  • + 6
 @pav4: I don't think there's a definitive answer for that. Nino is 30 from memory so I guess late 20's, early to mid 30's seems to be when you're in your prime for endurance/speed/consistency
  • + 1
 @rrsport: I think its the same age span when Absalon was at his "prime", ie won medals like no thang. The dude is retiring this year but he's still a beast. How old is he now? 36?
  • + 1
 @rrsport: True, yet you get a monster every now and then like Van der Poel, he would destroy this field
  • + 1
 Is Annemarie Worst still racing WC XC? She did quite well at the first round this year but she hasn't raced after Albstadt.
  • + 1
 In trials the best dude in the world was 16! Jack Carthy.
  • - 1
 Im not sure but I thinki mentioned b4 that rubbin yer own self is just like what?

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