All photos: Piper Albrecht

Round 6 of the 2022 World Cup is the the highest location on the circuit. The XCO course at Vallnord, Andorra, is at about 1900m. Which is about the same height as Charlotte's Pass. This has an impact on the racers due to the lower oxygen saturation, making it harder to recover if a rider goes beyond their limit. As such, many riders were doing altitude training ahead of the Lenzerheide World Cup - and some skipped Andorra. After short track, many top racers opted out with illness.

Want to catch up on short track? Recap the Vallnord World Cup Short Track

The hot and dry conditions from short track and Downhill were still around on Sunday, with temperatures in the mid 30s. The course has had a few changes since 2019, but the long descent and climb were key features.

Catch the full Andorra Downhill World Cup gallery here.

Looking at the XCC results from Friday for the women's race, we could all expect Bec McConnell to have a great race, alongside Anne Terpstra, Alessandra Keller, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot and even some of the breakthrough riders. 

With most riders around the world watching the coverage on Redbull TV, which has been a fantastic resource for watching the World Cup, it was a shame to hear some poor commentary choices ahead of the women's race - mostly around entrenched body type stereotypes for sport. Who can do well in Andorra, who is 'too big, too powerful.' Riders have illustarted so many times that strength, ability and panache are what counts - not meeting an expected and archaic endurance athlete physique.

In the women’s race, with Loana Lecomte and Kate Courtney both missing as they prepared for future rounds, many were expecting a close battle with plenty of surprise contenders. And then with Neff, Rissveds and others out with illness, the front of the race would look very different.

Despite a strong start by Laura Stigger, it was Dutch rider Terpstra (who won here in 2019) who took the race by the horns. Alessandra Keller, who won Friday’s XCC race, Bec McConnell and Pauline Ferrand-Prevot of France attempted to keep pace but by the end of the third lap Terpstra had built a lead of more than a minute - in part with McConnell getting a rear flat a long way from the tech. She dropped back to around 20th, having to run many sections of the course, then chipped away - and got a flat again. McConnell was now back in 40th.

At the front, no one was touching Terpstra. Pauline Ferrand-Prevot was losing contact with the chase group, as riders like Ramona Forcini was climbing through the ranks ahead of Stigger, PFP and Caroline Bohe.

Mona Mitterwallner climbed into second during the final lap, but was unable to get near Terpstra who made it successive wins in Vallnord, having triumphed the last time a race was held in the Andorran city in 2019. Meanwhile, Ramona Forchini won the battle with Stigger to ensure she claimed third place.

Terpstra, 31, said: "It was really special to win. I think this course and the altitude must suit me really well. I like it when it’s hot and dusty and I like the technical parts, so I guess it suits my kind of riding.”

McConnell was pretty calm at the finish, and admitted that luck like she had was part of mountain biking. Clearly she is in top form, but lacked the luck needed for the result that would be possible today.

In the U23 women's race, Zoe Cuthbert had another top result with 11th as Line Burquier (France) won the race.

Men's XCO World Cup

After securing his first-ever World Cup win in dramatic fashion in Lenzerheide last weekend, Braidot was hoping to once again shock the rest of the field. However, it looked as though the Italian would have a tough time, with Nino Schurter seeking a record-breaking 34th victory and Mathias Flückiger in good form after claiming a victory in Friday’s XCC race.

Swiss ace Flückiger would be forced to miss the race, though, having fallen ill overnight. And by the end of the first lap Schurter would find himself in 11th as he struggled to find speed. Over the next few laps, Braidot was able to keep pace with David Valero Serrano and leader Vlad Dascălu, with the trio pushing away from the rest of the field.

Disaster would then strike for Dascălu as a problem with his bike saw him tumbling down the field, allowing Braidot to power through and secure a second straight victory. Valero Serrano would hold on to secure second, while Schurter produced an incredible late charge to secure the final spot on the podium.

Braidot, 31, said: “I can’t believe it. This week has been pretty amazing for me. After two World Cup wins in a row, I am now feeling super confident for Snowshoe.”

In U23 men, Sam Fox was 11th, and Canadian Carter Woods won the race in dramatic fashion.

Women’s XCO result
1. Anne Terpstra NED 1:15:21 seconds
2. Mona Mitterwallner AUT +0.57
3. Ramona Forchini SUI +1.34
4. Laura Stigger AUT +1.43
5. Caroline Bohé DEN +1.49

Men’s XCO result
1. Luca Braidot ITA 1:15.31 seconds
2. David Valero Serrano ESP +0.10
3. Nino Schurter SUI +0.27
4. Vlad Dascălu ROM +0.38
5. Jordan Sarrou FRA +0.50

2022 UCI MTB World Cup women's cross-country standings
1. Rebecca Ellen McConnell AUS 1317
2. Anne Terpstra NED 1205
3. Loana Lecomte FRA 1204 points
4. Alessandra Keller SUI 1022
5. Jenny Rissveds SWE 1010

2022 UCI MTB World Cup men's cross-country standings
1. Nino Schurter SUI 1342 points
2. Vlad Dascălu ROU 1082
3. Alan Hatherly RSA 1063
4. Mathias Flückiger SUI 1016
5. Luca Braidot ITA 950