Crazy conditions and a great audience.

Following round 1 of the UCI World Cup in Stellenbosch, (RSA), two months ago,  there was a lot of expectation and excitement ahead of round 2 in Albstadt, Germany.

With new teams, sponsors and riders, there had been a lot of changes over the past few months. No one, however, expected the the biggest change of all: Julien Absalon had announced his retirement from World Cup racing. The most successful rider in the history of the sport, is not leaving the scene all together, but his presence will be missed on World Cup start lines.

It therefore seemed somehow appropriate that the first race should have a new format, heralding a new post-Absalon era. The weekend’s racing started on Friday evening with the short-track competion to determine the gridding positions for the XCO battles to come.

With points up for grabs,  the short-track racing was intense and meant that there was no clear favourite for the XCO races once the gridding positions had been allocated.

Heavy rain overnight had left the track super slippery and there were crashes galore. Despite a such a crash, Annie Last fought her way to a highly respectable 8th place.

By the time the men lined up for the final race of the weekend, the track had dried out considerably, although the technical sections in the forest were still proving to be treacherous. Jordan Sarrou made the most of his starting position, gained by 10th place in Friday‘s short-track race and stayed in the top 5 throughout the race. A podium place in the first European World Cup of 2018.