• UCI MTB World Cup, Valnord, Andorra. (Rob Jones)Source: Rob Jones
The 2016 Cross-country World Cup concluded on Sunday in Andorra, with overall victories for Catharine Pendrel (Luna) and Julien Absalon (BMC).
By
Cycling Central

5 Sep 2016 - 11:32 AM  UPDATED 6 Sep 2016 - 7:20 AM

It was the third title for Pendrel and the seventh for Absalon. Jolanda Neff (Stoeckli Pro) won the final round for the women, while Absalon recorded his 33rd World Cup win in the men's field.

Riders faced vastly different conditions than in training, when heavy rain overnight made the rocks and roots very slippery. The altitude, at over 1800 metres, also proved to be a significant factor, with many riders hitting the wall after a fast start.

Pendrel attacked at the start of the race, hoping to put a gap between herself and World Cup leader Annika Langvad (Specialized), who began the race with a 56 point lead. Only Dahle Flesjaa was initially able to stay with Pendrel, and the duo began to open a gap until Pendrel crashed on the roots and was overtaken by Neff. 

The Swiss rider caught a fading Dahle Flesjaa on the fifth lap and then attacked the sixth and final lap to win by 36 seconds, with Pendrel coming in at 1min 21sec. Langvad struggled all race and could only manage 13th, to drop to second in the overall standings.

"It was incredibly tough [the final 2 laps]," Neff said. "I rode a new bike, a full suspension, so I didn't have back pain and that was better but my legs had to work in a different position so it was harder. It is incredible [to finish

"It is incredible to finish the season with a win. I couldn't be happier about the win. After having so many problems with my back that I could not solve, this gives me so much confidence for the winter to finish this season, to win a World Cup, I'm happy."

Pendrel won the overall title with 1030 points, in a season that included one World Cup victory, a second place and two third places. Annika Langvad was second with 1006 points, and Canadian national champion Emily Batty (Trek Factory) finished third with 710 points, including two third place results. Henderson finished ninth overall with 561 points.

"World Cup Champion feels so good after the suffer fest out there today," Pendrel said. "This is an incredibly hard race. My start was amazing and I felt really good, but I definitely ran out of oxygen on the second lap. I had trouble staying up on the second descent, was kind of all over the place. I had to really regroup to get my breath. Then it was just about damage control; going as slow as I could just to stay upright on the descent and then hammer on the climb. It wasn't the prettiest race but it got the job done."

"I had to really regroup to get my breath. Then it was just about damage control; going as slow as I could just to stay upright on the descent and then hammer on the climb. It wasn't the prettiest race but it got the job done."

"I had trouble staying up on the second descent, was kind of all over the place. I had to really regroup to get my breath. Then it was just about damage control; going as slow as I could just to stay upright on the descent and then hammer on the climb. It wasn't the prettiest race but it got the job done."

Carlos Coloma (MMR Factory) led out of the start loop on the men's seven lap race but was soon supplanted by Ondrej Cink (Multivan Merida), closely followed by Absalon and Olympic champion Nino Schurter (Scott Odlo).

Absalon and Schurter made their way up to Cink by the fourth lap, but Schurter suffered a slow leak and was dropped when Absalon attacked. By the end of the fifth lap Absalon had 17 seconds on Cink, and increased that to 43 seconds by the finish line. Pablo Rodriguez (MMR Factory) took third in a sprint with Maxime Marotte (BH-SR Suntour-KMC).

"After the Olympics I was really disappointed," Absalon said, "so the first goal was to win the overall and then the race today. My legs were perfect, and I was really motivated to do a good race, so the plan was to stay with Nino (Schurter) at the beginning of the race and after to attack him at the end. The fast pace at the start was a

"The fast pace at the start was a surprise, because here you don't want to go over the limit, because it is really high [altitude], but I was always in a good rhythm."

Absalon finishes the season with 1310 points and three World Cup victories. Schurter, despite missing one round, finishes second with three victories also, and 980 points. Marotte came third with 948 points.