Emily Batty World Cup cross country XCO

Emily Batty racing in Val di Sole Italy last weekend. Image: Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool

Emily Batty’s impressive season continued on Friday as the Canadian national cross country champion finished fifth in the short track cross country race in Vallnord, Andorra.

Not far behind Batty, Sandra Walter delivered her best performance ever in the new racing format, placing 14th.

Women’s Short Track Cross Country World Cup – Vallnord, Andorra

Alessandra Keller (Thomus-RN Racing) won the Women’s race, opening up a small lead with two laps to go. Annika Langvad (Specialized) and Barbara Benko (Ghost Factory Racing) chased, but were unable to close the gap. After leading for much of the middle section of the short, 25-minute race, Jolanda Neff (Kross Racing) faded to fourth after Keller’s attack. It is the first time Langvad has not won the XCC even since it was added to the World Cup schedule earlier this season.

Batty (Trek Factory Racing) crossed the line fifth, five seconds behind Neff, improving on the Canadian’s 7th place the previous weekend in Val di Sole, Italy. The Trek rider’s position within the top-8 earns her a front row start in Sunday’s full-distance XCO race.

RELATED: How to watch: World Cup cross country and downhill from Vallnord, Andorra

Sandra Walter (Liv Cycling / Team Canada) moved up through the field to finish 14th in Friday’s short track cross country race. Crucially, her position inside the top-16 moves Walter all the way up to a second row start for Sunday’s race. This season has seen the Coquitlam, B.C. rider deliver a string of excellent World Cup results. Walter was 15th on a treacherously muddy course in Albstadt, Germany and 19th last weekend in Val di Sole, Italy.

Moving up Sunday’s start grid gives Walter an opportunity to continue those excellent results by giving her a clear shot at the front of the race instead of having to work her way up through the field over the course of the race.

Maghalie Rochette (Clif Pro Team) and Haley Smith (Norco Factory Team) finished just outside of the top-16 cutoff for front row positions, ending Friday’s race in 24th and 26th place.

Reigning Olympic and world champion Nino Schurter

Men’s Short Track Cross Country World Cup – Vallnord, Andorra

While Nino Schurter has been at the top of cross country racing for several years, he has yet to find his way to a win in the new short track cross country format. His efforts have been stymied by Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon Circus), Sam Gaze (Specialized), and now Henrique Avancini (Cannonday Factory Racing). Shcurter short track season started ignominiously, dropping out of the formats debut in Albstadt, Germany. He placed third the next weekend in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic, and moved up to second behind van der Poel last weekend in Italy.

In Vallnord, a tactical race played out as riders battled each other, the course, and the adjustment to racing at altitude in this new full-gas effort race format. Multiple riders attacked, with no one able to make a move stick. Looking for his third XCC win, van der Poel launched a searing attack on the penultimate lap, only to be brought back by the chasing group a short while later.

Finally, Henrique Avancini (Canondale Factory Racing) took the lead going into the last lap. While the Brazilian was pushing the pace, he never gained any separation from the group. The rest of the pack looked too exhausted to do much more than hold pace. In the sprint, van der Poel could do no more than move from third position to pass Gerhard Kerschbaumer (Torpado Gabogas) to finish second. Nino Schurter could not even accomplish that, his sprint effort doing little more than maintaining his position in fourth.

Henrique Avancini becomes the third winner of the new XCC format, and first Brazilian winner.

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