• Australian Champion Rebecca Henderson (Trek Factory Racing) was unable to repeat her podium performance from Cairns (Rob Jones)Source: Rob Jones
Familiar faces took the top step on the podium of the second round of the cross-country world cup series in Albstadt, Germany, with Annika Langvad (Specialized) and Nino Schurter (Scott-Odlo) continuing their winning ways from Cairns.
By
Rob Jones

23 May 2016 - 11:41 AM 

Albstadt hosted the second round of the series one month after the series kicked off in Cairns, Australia. The venue offers up a hard course with steep climbs and technical descents. 

This year riders faced sun and heat instead of the usual rain and mud. Many a rider went out hard early on, only to fade badly in the final laps. 

Langvad rode away from the rest of the field after the start loop gaining more than two minutes at one point before easing off to cruise to victory. 

Catharine Pendrel (Luna), Jenny Rissveds (Scott-Odlo),  Sabine Spitz (Sabine Spitz Pro Team) and Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Multivan Merida) led the chase, until Rissvids crashed and dropped back. Pendrel pushed the pace dropping Dahle Flesjaa and then Spitz, and seemed to have second place locked up.

Rissvids made a remarkable comeback to take second ahead of Pendrel. Australian champion Rebecca Henderson (Trek Factory Racing), who finished third in Cairns, struggled in Albstat and eventually finished in 26th, seven minutes and 57 seconds behind Langvad.

Peta Mullens (Focus SRAM) was the second and only other Australian in the race. She finished in 50th position, 11 minutes and 48 seconds off the winning pace.

Langvad leads the standings with a perfect score of 500 points. Pendrel moves into second from fourth with 310 points, followed by Rissveds with 290. Henderson drops from third to eighth in the overall standings, with 214 points.

Schurter trumps Absalon in battle to the line

Once again the men's race became a battle between Schurter and Julien Absalon (BMC), the two-time defending champion at Albstadt. After the pair dropped Maxime Marotte (BH-SR Suntour-KMC) and Jaroslav Kulhavy (Specialized) they battled each other but neither could open the slightest gap.

It came down to a sprint out of the last corner onto asphalt. Absalon led through the corner into the final 100 metres but Schurter is just that much better of a sprinter. He caught and passed his rival in the final metres to win by half a bike. 

Australian champion Daniel McConnell (Trek Factory Racing) had a strong start moving into the top-15 before fading slightly to finish 22nd, four minutes and 56 seconds behind Schurter.

Cameron Ivory (Swell-Specialized) was the next Australian home in 56th place, tightening his bid for the second spot, alongside McConnell, on the Australian Olympic team in Rio. Brendan Johnston and Russel Nankervis were both pulled with four laps to go as the stacked field of over 150 riders were unable to keep up with the brutal pace up front.

Schurter leads the standings with 500 points after his second straight win. Absalon moves into second in the standings at 360 points, tied with Marotte. McConnell sits 24th in the standings with 106 points.