Madrid's weeklong heat wave leading up to the World Cup XC race in Casa de Campo Park subsided just before the race—replaced by a deluge of rains—but the action was still scorching hot.
On a course that was equal parts greasy mud and sticky clay, Julien Absalon and Margarita Fullana pulled away from the pack of chasers and widened their respective World Cup overall leads.
But the wins didn't come easy. The gamesmanship began even before the race started, as riders and mechanics scrambled to find the right tires—something that would offer traction in the sand, but not pack up too much in the sticky clay. Sunday started with rain slicked streets, keeping even the most seasoned racers second-guessing tire choice