The Battle to the Finish - Ablstadt XC World Cup

May 31, 2015 at 14:38
by Matthew DeLorme  
The sun was shining brightly this morning and it was going to be a good day for racing. The week's precipitation decided to take a hiatus, and the track dried out here in Albstadt. This made for some fast, wickedly quick racing. Jolanda Neff ran away with another win and Julien Absalon edged out Nino Schurter for the big finish in a down to the wire race that included a nasty spill for Nino.

Pendrel was all smiles this morning.
Pendrel was all smiles this morning.

XCO Albstadt 2015.

Catharine Pendrel chooses her start position.
Catharine Pendrel chooses her start position.

Women s start.
Women's start.

Catharine Pendrel and Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjaa battling it out.
Catharine Pendrel and Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjaa battling it out.

Jolanda Neff had another impressive win. She got out front quickly and never looked back.
Jolanda Neff had another impressive win. She got out front quickly and never looked back.

Catharine Pendrel duked it out with Gunn-Rita the entire race. She took third.
Catharine Pendrel duked it out with Gunn-Rita the entire race. She took third.

The course dried up in the afternoon but it remained treacherous up on top. Many took a tumble as they got pinballed.
The course dried up in the afternoon, but it remained treacherous up on top. Many took a tumble as they got pinballed.

This lady is on fire. Although Jolanda Neff was in a class of her own Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjaa proves to be on top of her game. Legend.
This lady is on fire. Although Jolanda Neff was in a class of her own Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjaa proves to be on top of her game. Legend.

Mia Wloszczowska had a solid ride to fifth place.
Maja Wloszczowska had a solid ride to fifth place.

The battle for the podium was close. Racers choose to ride the steeper line or the longer less steep one. Catharine Pendrel leads Maja Wloszczowska.
The battle for the podium was close. Racers choose to ride the steeper line, or the longer, less steep one. Catharine Pendrel leads Maja Wloszczowska.

Emily Batty has found her World Cup pace. She placed fourth today.
Emily Batty has found her World Cup pace. She placed fourth today.

Compared to Nove Mesto the pace of this race was off the charts. The speed is even more impressive when all the climbing is considered.
Compared to Nove Mesto, the pace of this race was off the charts. The speed is even more impressive when all the climbing is considered.

Jolanda Neff flying down the course. Her pace was furious and no other woman comes close at this point.
Jolanda Neff flying down the course. Her pace was furious and no other woman comes close at this point.

Neff comes across the line with a very comfortable margin. She seems simply unbeatable.
Neff comes across the line with a very comfortable margin. She seems simply unbeatable.

Mia and Jolanda share a laugh at the finish.
Maja and Jolanda share a laugh at the finish.

A commissaire holds a pre-race checklist for the men U23 race.
A commissaire holds a pre-race checklist for the men U23 race.

Walking mayhem halfway down the field at the men s U23. Albstadt s course proves troublesome with a large rider field
Walking mayhem halfway down the field at the men's U23. Albstadt's course proves troublesome with a large rider field.

Michiel van der Heijden Hafjell s U23 World Champion rode to a 26th position today. He s feeling confident and aims to enter the top 20 in the next race.
Michiel van der Heijden, Hafjell's U23 World Champion, rode to a 26th position today. He's feeling confident and aims to enter the top 20 in the next race.

Julien was all focus at the start. He knew what he needed to do to win today.
Julien was all focus at the start. He knew what he needed to do to win today.

Its all a blur at the start.
It's all a blur at the start.

Absalon and Nino playing cat and mouse.
Absalon and Nino playing cat and mouse.

The backside descent dried out with a brief reprieve from the rain and speeds picked up.
The backside descent dried out with a brief reprieve from the rain and speeds picked up.

Florian Vogel is in form. He s ever so close to that medal.
Florian Vogel is in form. He's ever so close to that medal.

Going over the bars this rider had to walk up to where he went out to re-enter the race.
Going over the bars, this rider had to walk up to where he went out to re-enter the race.

Mathias Fluckiger took fifth today.
Mathias Fluckiger took fifth today.

This section is called the Devil s Waves. Most of this course is named after the Devil s something-or-other.
This section is called the Devil's Waves. Most of this course is named after the Devil's something-or-other.

Schurter puts in an attack but Absalon follows right away.
Schurter puts in an attack, but Absalon follows right away.

Nino Schurter and Julien Absalon battled hard for victory. The course was packed with crowds roaring riders forward.
Nino Schurter and Julien Absalon battled hard for victory. The course was packed with crowds, roaring riders forward.

Absalon on the penultimate lap.
Absalon on the penultimate lap.

Jaro Rode to third today just a litlle off the pace from his Nove Mesto finish
Jaro rode to third today, just a little off the pace from his Nove Mesto finish.

To say there were some lung busting climbs here is an understatement.
To say there were some lung busting climbs here is an understatement.

Eight seconds ahead of Nino Schurter Absalon takes another win in Albstadt.
Eight seconds ahead of Nino Schurter, Absalon takes another win in Albstadt.

Schurter went hard to overtake Julien and it backfired. He slid out on one of the final turns. Such is the way of battle.
Schurter went hard to overtake Julien and it backfired. He slid out on one of the final turns. Such is the way of battle.

Ralph Naef went deep. This course is very very harsh.
Ralph Naef went deep. This course is very, very harsh.

XCO Albstadt 2015.

XCO Albstadt 2015.

Auf wiedersehen from Albstadt.
Auf wiedersehen, from Albstadt.




About the Photographers

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.

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.



MENTIONS: @SCOTT-Sports, @trek, @mdelorme, @ikeizer



Must Read This Week

46 Comments

  • 73 0
 Love watching Nino and Julian battle it out. Haven't felt the spirit of cross country quite like this season in a while - thanks pinkbike for the coverage!!
  • 19 1
 I fully agree! You really feel the action and the tension!
Props to RedBull as well for covering the events and putting the commentated live feed online!
I feel the race format has great potential! As it is not only biker would be exciting in watching this if you see what i mean.
Who's in for crowdfunding shredtv ?
  • 25 0
 Great to see so much more Xc coverage, also rare to see Nino crash.
  • 10 1
 Three out of the four races so far (mens plus womens) have been absolutely nailbiting. Awesome season so far!

(Neff made this womens race kinda boring but damn, I could watch her ride a bike all day anyway :p )
  • 32 1
 #n2no
  • 20 1
 Was tough to watch to watch Nino go down and lose first place, he had earned it. It must be so frustrating to get 2nd twice in a row. Such a beast though
  • 2 1
 Yeah, it was tough and he did deserve the win. Good thing, in terms of points, he's not far away from "glory". Hope he gets 1st in his home country in July.
  • 4 1
 It seemed like Julian had already given up on the win before nino crashed. Nino created quite a gap on the last descent for the few hundred meters that followed.
  • 3 0
 At least Schurter must know he's in amazing form to be physically at least as strong as Absalon on this type of course, and despite taking the win Absalon must know it too. Still, Nino can't afford to gift any more points to Absalon because he won't give any up easily. Hope the DH season has some races this close instead of a year long Gwin whitewash!
  • 2 2
 Although, I would be totally happy with a Sam Hill or Ratboy rinsing of the results!
  • 2 2
 ^^ sam hill is out for the season Frown
  • 5 1
 Speaking of which, Nino pulled a Sam Hill at the end there Smile
  • 5 0
 Man was Nino pinned on that last descent though, so smooth! I couldn't believe how big the gap was by the time he crashed. Damn shame though. Nino said he was already thinking about the win when he crashed.... bet he won't make that mistake again.
  • 2 0
 Sam nailed himself so long ago I had totally forgotten! Is anyone fighting fit coming into Fort Bill? Razz

Also, @zephxiii - your comment isn't getting nearly the love it deserves. I laughed out loud in the office and now my colleagues think I've finally cracked.
  • 2 0
 I know right? y'all bunch of lamers!
  • 21 6
 A bit chilly for the women's race?!?!?!
  • 2 0
 HAHA ya it was a tid bit nippy...
  • 1 0
 Or just the excitement of the race...
  • 14 1
 Thanks again for the great XC coverage.
  • 3 0
 Yes good photos and documentation help frame this into a story worth following.
  • 8 0
 These guys are gnarly. Fun to follow XC, for me at least, for the first time in years. Please keep the excellent coverage coming. The girls are amazing- go Emily!
  • 7 0
 Excellent coverage! The racing seems to be so intense right from the start of this season. Love it.
BTW, it's Maja, not "Mia" (the caption under Wloszczowska and Neff's photo). Keep up the good work.
  • 6 0
 Ah, damn auto correct. Should have caught that. Thanks!
  • 1 0
 Cheers Smile
  • 1 0
 Excellent coverage indeed! M. Delorme and I. Keizer, I seriously appreciate your artism/skills; you're somehow able to capture in stills the tribulations and exultations of XCO better than I've ever seen. Please continue ..
  • 8 0
 Thx Pinkbike for the XCO coverage. Really like to see XC stuff too. These guys and gals are amazing.
  • 7 0
 XC racing looks awesome, especially when courses are rough enough to favor technical riding.
  • 3 0
 another great race, nice to wake up Sunday mornings and live stream it! Absalon ran a good race, Nino looked stronger at the end and had him but went a little too hard right at the end and it cost him, still a good ride by both of them!
  • 3 0
 This comment here...

"Schurter went hard to overtake Julien and it backfired. He slid out on one of the final turns..."

kind of makes it sound as if he wrecked while overtaking, which of course isn't the case. He was well ahead but just a little too hot in one of the last corners.

Just nitpicking a little, but great pics! I normally don't watch XC, but put it on yesterday morning and watched the mens race, influenced heavily by the article with pics of some of their bikes. Still a little sedate for my taste, but awesome still!
  • 2 0
 Albstadt is, in my opinion, the least technical course on the calendar.

You can watch the replay of the Nove Mesto race; it has a bit more technical features than Albstadt.

My favorite course, though, is Pietermaritzburg, SA. Watching Nino smoke through the rock garden there on a HT is absolutely amazing.
  • 1 0
 Thanks for posting that as it does seem a little misleading. He had that race won but screwed up on that corner...reminds me of Sam Hill Worlds 2008!
  • 11 6
 Looks like it was a little chilly in Ablstadt.
  • 3 0
 Great coverage. Time trial racing like Enduro/DH are fantastic but side-by-side racing brings a whole different level of scrappiness and strategy.
  • 3 0
 For us mortals, what is the distance, elevation gain and winning avg speed? World Cup must be off the charts with the international select ultimately trained on 17lb rigs.
  • 11 0
 The men's distance was 34.36 km and the women's 30.16 km including start loops. I don't know the start loop's elevation gain, but within the main laps (220 m of climbing each) the men did 1760 m of ascent and the women 1540 m. Absalon's avg was around 22.8 km/h and Neff's more or less 18,9 km/h.

TL; DR They're fast as hell.

I've just compared that to one of my recent rides and I won't even quote it here because I'm embarrassingly slow.
  • 4 0
 Thx. 1760m ascent.. insane at 23kph avg.
  • 5 1
 I like maja, like a lot ^^
  • 4 1
 Why if I may ask hahah
  • 1 1
 Nipples on pinkbike !
  • 3 0
 It's called "Albstadt", not "Ablstadt" Big Grin great coverage
  • 1 0
 Epic (and i dont use the term lightly) photo post. I need to get back into a race series... gotta at least try to be half the rider/competitor these folks are.
  • 3 1
 XC is stepping up. Damn!
  • 1 0
 This is good for the Soft tail thing.
  • 1 0
 MERIDA........
  • 3 6
 Maja's tits ;-)
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