The fourth round of the Nissan UCI MTB XC World Cup took place at the weekend in Madrid, Spain. Madrid is a regular fixture on the World Cup calendar, and is unique for its city centre location in Case de Campo park. With such an easily-accessible location, it’s no surprise that spectator numbers run to the tens of thousands.
Traditionally, Madrid offers up hot, dry and dusty conditions, but this year two nights of heavy rain led to a course wet enough to render some sections unridable and force a shortening of the women’s race to four laps. Inevitably, all eyes were on series leader Margarita Fullana (Massi), racing on home ground. She was part of an early break along with Catharine Pendrel (Luna), Lene Byberg (Specialized) and defending World Cup Champion Marie-Helene Premont (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain).
Pendrel couldn’t stay with the leaders and dropped back, with a late attack by Premont seeing off Byberg and leaving just Fullana with a chance of beating the Canadian. She made her move on the final climb, taking the lead and holding it to the finish for her second consecutive World Cup win. Premont was second, Byberg third, Sabine Spitz fourth and Pendrel fifth. Fullana leads the overall standings by 190 points from Elisabeth Osl, with Byberg in third.
The men’s race was held in drier conditions and ran over a full six laps. Ralph Näf (Multivan Merida) made the early running – a big bunch hitched themselves on to the Näf train off the start, but by lap three all but series leader Julien Absalon had fallen off it. The two riders continued to pull away from the chasing group, until on lap five Näf made an attempt to drop the series leader. He opened up an 11 second gap on Absalon, but couldn’t hold enough pace to make it stick – Absalon closed relentlessly, then passed Näf to take his 19th World Cup victory. Britain’s Liam Killeen and Oli Beckingsale finished 19th and 24th respectively.
Moritz Milatz (Multivan Merida) came out best in the sprint for third, just ahead of Marco Fontana (Cannondale). Nino Schurter took the final podium spot ahead of Jean-Christophe Peraud. Absalon is now a massive 325 points ahead in the overall standings, with Wolfram Kurschat second and Burry Stander third.
The XC racers now have a couple of months off from World Cup action before the series heads across the Atlantic to Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada.