Switzerland’s Alessandra Keller dominates the Women XCC after an attack with two laps to go.
Residents Loïc Bruni and Valentina Höll lead downhill qualifying runs, in which Andorrans. Alex Iscla and Arnau Graslaub do not get their semi-final ticketsRyan Pinkerton and Erice Van Leuven win junior downhill.
Pal, Andorra, 25th of August 2023. Pal Arinsal had a great day of cycling today. Short-track cross-country circuit (XCC) and downhill track (DHI) were filled with motorless-two-wheelers enthusiasts wanting to follow in situ the show offered by the best riders in the world, all in the great atmosphere reigning over the resort of La Massana. Tightest moment of the today was the XCC Elite Men final sprint, where Luca Schwarzbauer and multiple world champion Nino Schurter (10 titles under his belt) fought for victory. After a close final lap, the German made the best of powerful control he had developed throughout the event to claim victory in the XCC of Pal Arinsal. In a word, Schwarzbauer led the first group for a good part of the race, then he launched the final sprint with enough advance to complete the nine laps of the 1.1 km course first, in a time of 20’13”. Schurter crossed the finish line one second later, while Frenchman Jordan Sarrou completed the podium two seconds behind the winner. Newly-crowned cross-country world champion Tom Pidcock likely kept strength for Sunday’s XCO, finishing 17th, just behind Catalan Jofre Cullell in 16th position.
As for XCC Elite women race, Alessandra Keller was very strong throughout the race and logically took the win. An attack two laps from the end allowed her to dig a 3-seconds gap over British Evie Richards, who nevertheless tried everything to close that gap, especially on the climb before the last ride in the pumptrack. But the Swiss was able to keep her pace to take the victory, completing the eight laps in a time of 20’36”. Richards crossing the line six seconds later. Dutchwoman Puck Peeterse is third at 17 seconds.
DOWNHILL QUALIFYING RUN
Andorrans Àlex Iscla and Arnau Graslaub failed to reach the top 60 of the downhill classification, giving access to tomorrow’s semi-final, finishing 74th and 123rd respectively. With a run of 2’59”095, Iscla is only one second from the top 60 cut, but small errors blocked his path to the semi-final. “I miss the semi-final for a second, you have to accept it and keep working,” said Iscla. Graslaub was also unhappy with his run which, with a time of 3:05.990, was below his times during free practice. He found himself nearly 8 seconds from qualifying. “It’s part of this sport, a mistake can be very costly, especially on this track where every inch is very technical. There are certainly positive aspects but I am a little sad because to do a worse time than in training, it’s not easy to swallow. Let’s learn and continue”, underlined the young Andorran, who added that “next year we will be present again at the World Championships”.
La Massana resident Loïc Bruni has been the fastest man of today’s run. He completed that downhill with a 2’46”720 mark, just three tenths ahead of his compatriot, Loris Vergier, second in this first qualifying run at Pal Arinsal. Third man of the day is none other than Jackson Goldstone, Canada, who rode two seconds slower than Bruni. All three are at the top of the list of 60 riders who will take part of the semi-finals tomorrow. They will compete again to reach top 30 classification. Only these 30 riders will race the final. In the women downhill standings, Valentina Höll once again imposed her domination with a time of 3’11”924, leaving Germany’s Nina Hoffmann, second fastest in the category, nearly four seconds behind and more than eight seconds the Norwegian Mille Johnset, who therefore scored the third best time in the classification. The French Vicky Clavel has integrated the list of the 15 fastest women who have validated their tickets for tomorrow’s semi-finals. Of these 15 semi-finalists, only the first 10 will take part in the final.
PINKERTON AND VAN LEUVEN WIN JUNIOR RACE
The races that kicked off today’s day at Pal Arinsal were the junior downhill finals, won by American Ryan Pinkerton and New Zealander Erice Van Leuven. The men category proved to be the tightest. Pinkerton rode an impressive downhill, especially in the last section of the track, and set a time of 2:49.099, giving him victory with a 1.028” lead over second-placed Italian Christian Hauser. For the following places, less than a second separates the second from the fifth. Nathan Pontvianne reached the third step of the podium. Follow Evan Medcalf fourth and current leader of the provisional classification Bodhi Kuhn in fifth place (+1”852). The Canadian still has a 195 points lead against 163 for Pinkerton, who remains a threat for the junior title knowing that there are still 4 events to go.
A clear dominant rider in the junior women category: Erice Van Leuven. The New Zealander from Commençal team hit hard by completing her final run in 3’21”045, while the fastest in yesterday’s qualifications, the Colombian Valentina Roa, finished second 5’382” behind. For her part, the Frenchwoman Lisa Bouladou completes the podium with a ride placing her 13 seconds behind Van Leuven. With these results, the provisional junior classification is tightened, with the three riders on today’s podium only separated by 25 points. Bouladou still leading ahead respectively of Roa and Van Leuven
World Cup in Pal Arinsal continues tomorrow with two more highlights: semi-finals followed by final of Elite Downhill. Given tomorrow’s weather forecast, the organization will confirm the times for these semi-finals and finals in the morning in order to adapt as good as possible to weather conditions. In this regard, spectators who wish to come and experience the event on site are again advised to inform themselves via official channels, such as social networks and the site https://palarinsalworldcup.com/ to stay informed of any program changes. And it is always recommended to use public transport to facilitate mobility in the parish and in the country.