Vallnord once again provided a track with plenty of warp speed, big gaps and gnar to test the best riders in the World.
Here’s who took the full haul of finals points and the silverware home once the dust had settled in Andorra.
Green top splits didn’t seem to matter much, it was all about being in touch at the top two splits then smashing the third and fourth. More than a few would burn out in the top half.
Rain started to fall as Gracey Hemstreet hit the track, then it would dry up for the opening Elite Men before getting worse as we got to the fastest qualifiers.
New Zealand’s Erice Van Leuven had a solid first outing in her new Rainbow cardigan by putting over five seconds into Colombia’s Valentina Roa Sanchez. The Transition Factory Racing would have an eight second gap back to third place Lisa Bouladou.
No Brits in the Junior Women’s finals…
Ryan Pinkerton showed that his pace at World Champs wasn’t a one off and he’d put that disappointment behind him by taking a solid win putting over a second into Christian Hauser. Nathan Pontvianne would be snaping at the Italian’ heels just 0.3 back in third. 2nd to 5th were only separated by 0.8 of a second. It’s tight at the top.
Dom Platt would be the highest placed Brit in 12th, some 8.5 seconds back on Pinkerton.
The absence of Cami Balanche was felt in the Elite Women’s race. With the schedule change, the qualifiers would go through to finals as the semis were binned.
Rider after rider would pip the last with Vali Höll’s qualifying time. Eleonora Farina would come back from injury to really up the ante, before being bumped from the hotseat by Marine Cabirou. After barely getting the seat warm, Tahnee Seagrave would then take that spot as the rain started to fall.
Nina Hoffman would show that she finally had the head screwed on right despite the schedule change and ride the Andorra track in her inimitable style. Vali had no real answer today despite not looking slow. The German would add to her tally of wins by almost three seconds.
It was all go in the Elite Men’s race. The full 60 qualifiers went through as semis were binned owing to the weather. Rain and wind would start to build but the track was holding up well.
Tuhoto-Ariki Pene would hold the hotseat for a while. Jack Reading would light up the lower splits before taking a dive, Palazzari would do the same but couldn’t dislodge Pene. Then came the finish split slalom, riders would be up or down by hundredths, two seconds separated the top 12.
Charlie Hatton couldn’t make good his new cardigan. Antoine Vidal kept the hotseat warm for a while but was still outside Bruni’s qualifier of 2:46. Angel Suarez crosses the line 0.1 back and goes 4th…
The GOAT builds into a screamer, matches Bruni’s qualifier and is up by 2.4. Ten to go.
Daprela goes red at split four and somehow pips Minnaar to the bottom by 0.121.
Iles goes third, 2.3 back on Daprela.
Ronan Dunne sets off in his usual style but the rain is coming down hard. This is where the race changes. Kolb goes down in the open, losing the front and being unable to unclip. He was losing time anyway.
Coulanges hits a tree in the woods but was attacking like it was a dry. Nobody is getting close.
Bruni is in touch at split one and keeps his deficit to around two seconds. It’s a hero’s ride but it’s not going to be enough. He’s visibly distraught at the finish and is consoled by his team mate. Super Bruni was the fastest of the riders who had the rain, and will salvage points for his 22nd place. The rest got nowhere near.
Full results can be found on the UCI website here.