Evie Richards maintained her push at the top of the UCI Cross Country Mountain Bike World Cup standings with a superb second-place finish in the under-23s race in Andorra.
Richards backed up her strong ride in Italy last week, where she also finished second, and remains third in the overall World Cup standings.
Isla Short was not far behind with an excellent sixth-place finish while Frazer Clacherty finished 51st in the men’s under-23 race – while the elite races saw Annie Last not finish and Grant Ferguson place 49th.
Richards continues her ascent
Commonwealth Games silver medallist Richards continued her record of not finishing outside the top three in any World Cup race she’s completed this season, as she placed second on the high-altitude slopes of Vallnord.
The 21-year-old was beaten by the leader in the overall standings, Switzerland’s Sina Frei, who finished in a time of 1:13:54, just over a minute ahead of Richards.
The result replicates the one-two from last week’s race in Italy and earns the Trek Factory Racing XC rider 70 points to gain some ground on Malene Degn, who is second in the overall standings.
Reigning UCI Cyclo-Cross world champion Richards didn’t finish in round three of the World Cup but is now back on track following her fourth podium finish of 2018.
With round six taking the riders to Mont-Saint-Anne in Canada next and then France at the end of August, Richards will hope to make up more ground on Degn and Frei.
Andorra also saw an excellent race from Short (Habitat Mountain Bike Team), who finished sixth to earn 35 points to back up her superb fourth-place finish in Val di Sole last week.
In the elite women’s race, Last is now down to 15th in the overall World Cup standings after she was unable to complete the race at Vallnord.
The pace on the course was fast early on as Norway’s Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa and Switzerland’s Jolanda Neff led for most of the race.
It was Dahle Flesjaa who took the victory though, with a time of 1:22:58 on her 119th World Cup start, 25 seconds ahead of Neff.
The Norwegian has now recorded an astonishing 30 World Cup wins but it’s Neff who leads in the overall standings heading into the final two rounds.
In the men’s elites picked up 19 more points in the overall standings but Italy’s Gerhard Kerschbaumer and Switzerland’s Nino Schurter set the early pace and proved uncatchable as they battled for the race lead.
Kerschbaumer proved in exceptional form on the climbs, with 32-year-old Schurter unable to rein in the former Under-23 world champion and eventually finishing second.