[Press Release]: Mona Mitterwallner (Cannondale Factory Racing) and Matthias Flückiger (Thömus Maxon) took the elite wins in Pal Arinsal, Andorra as a cocktail of rain, low temperatures and altitude made for one of the toughest Cross- country World Cups of the season.
Austrian Mitterwallner’s victory was her first elite UCI Mountain Bike Cross-country Olympic World Cup win as she proved she had the measure of both the climbs and the slippery descents that characterised the wet course.
The 21-year-old Cross-country Marathon World Champion attacked the weekend’s Short-Track winner Alessandra Keller (Thömus Maxon) going into the final of five cold and rainy laps at Pal Arinsal. The Austrian national champion continued to turn the screw extending her lead to eventually cross the line with a 34-second gap to the Swiss rider.
World Champion Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (Ineos Grenadiers) had to settle for third after seeing a 20-second first-lap lead decimated by Mitterwallner and Keller.
Puck Pieterse (Alpecin-Deceuninck) retains the series leader’s jersey after finishing the race in seventh.
In the men’s race Flückiger (Thömus Maxon) won his first World Cup of the 2023 season after taking the lead on the second lap of seven.
The Swiss rider was pushed hard by France’s Thomas Griot (Canyon CLLCTV) who rode through a chasing bunch to get within 8s of Flückiger on the penultimate lap. But Flückiger, who looked planted on the technical wet descents, extended the gap to take the win by some 23 seconds.
Third place was decided in the last few seconds of the race as World Champion Thomas Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) managed to reel in and pass Jordan Sarrou (Team BMC) in sight of the finishing straight.
Series leader Nino Schurter (Scott-SRAM MTB Racing Team) lost almost a minute to a puncture but holds on to the series leader’s jersey after managing to finish in 12th.
The U23 riders went between the tapes in the morning with a Swiss 1-2 in a wet women’s race which saw Noëlle Buri (Bixs Performance Race Team) take a convincing win some 24 seconds ahead of Ronja Blöchlinger (Liv Factory Racing). France’s Noemi Garnier (Scott Creuse Oxygene Gueret) took third. Sofie Heby Pedersen (Wilier-Pirelli Factory Team XCO) finished the day in seventh but holds on to the leader’s jersey after winning the first four rounds of the 2023 season.
Overnight rain made the U23 men’s race a slick affair but the USA’s Riley Amos (Trek Factory Racing XC) coped best with the conditions and the altitude to take the win. France’s Adrien Boichis (Trinity Racing MTB) was some 13s back in second. His compatriot Luca Martin (Orbea Factory Team) was third. Boichis retains the series lead ahead of the sixth round.