Monica Calderon and Tessa Kortekaas utilised the high-altitude racing and arduous climbs of the Queen Stage to further extend their Andorra Epic Pyrenees lead, on Stage 3. The Cannondale ISB Sport’s perfect three-from-three record sets them up to race for a clean sweep of stage wins on the final day. In the UCI men’s competition, Scott Cala-Bandida turned the race on its head, slashing BUFF Megamo’s once healthy advantage to just 1 minute and 16 seconds.


The UCI women’s race leaders, Monica Calderon and Tessa Kortekaas, have been quietly superior throughout the Andorra Epic Pyrenees thus far. It was therefore no surprise to see the Cannondale ISB Sport combination strengthen their general classification advantage over their teammates, Meritxell Figueras and Claudia Peretti, on the Queen Stage. Friday, 5 July’s, Stage 3 was the longest and toughest of the 2024 race and thus provided the best opportunities to gain time. The top women’s team did just that, while in the UCI men’s race Scott Cala-Bandida surged to stage victory. Sergio Mantecon and Jose Maria Sanchez’s exploits put them within striking distance of BUFF Megamo ahead of the final day.

Andorra Epic Pyrenees

Cannondale ISB Sport won their third stage on Stage 3 of the 2024 Andorra Epic Pyrenees. Photo by Toni Grases/Andorra Epic

The Queen Stage’s challenge was provided not only by the 2 290 metres of accumulated ascending and the lengthy, 61 kilometre, distance. The race also spent nearly 20 kilometres at over 2 000 metres above sea level, which further sapped the reserves of the competitors. A long climb past Els Espiolets and Llac de Cubil to Funicamp led into the 7 kilometre Mont Màgic DH trail. The downhill provided thrills and a much-needed loss in elevation, dropping from 2 500 metres to 1 500 meters above sea level. A final ascent over Coll d’Ordino and on to Coll de l’Estall then took the teams into the Belaxlís DH singletrack and back to La Massana.

Cannondale ISB Sport’s intra-team battle continued on Stage 3 and followed the pattern established on the first two stages. Calderon and Kortekaas proved the stronger climbers, distancing Meritxell Figueras and Claudia Peretti, along with the Fundación Biela and CLLCTV teams on the ascent to the highest point of the race. Initially the Cannondale ISB Sport 2 team could match the women in orange, but gradually the leaders pulled away establishing a 2 minute and 17 second advantage by the time they reached the Funicamp summit. On the long descent which follows Figueras and Peretti used their singletrack prowess to reduce that deficit to just over a minute, but Calderon and Kortekaas had enough firepower to redouble their efforts on the climb to Coll d’Ordino. By the finish line the race leaders had added nearly 7 more minutes to their general classification buffer.

Meritxell Figueras

Meritxell Figueras has been able to use he technical skills to reduce the deficit to the Cannondale ISB Sport leaders during each stage, but was unable to do so in the latter half of Stage 3, due to her teammate’s mechanical problems. Photo by Toni Grases/Andorra Epic

“It was hard,” Peretti grimaced, after spending much of the day chasing Calderon and Kortekaas. “The first 30 kilometres were all uphill, with lots of singletracks too, which made it hard to find a rhythm. Towards the end of the stage, I had a mechanical problem so I couldn’t go full gas in the last descent; which cost us some time. But tomorrow will be a shorter day and we will try do our best to win one stage.”

Going into the final stage, Cannondale ISB Sport lead Cannondale ISB Sport 2 by 10 minutes and 35 seconds. Fundación Biela’s Almudena Rodríguez López De Armentia and Sara Caballero Pomares are third, well off the pace of the top two teams but also comfortably ahead of Juanita Rose Mackenzie and Michelle Reed, of CLLCTV, in fourth.

Hans Becking

Hans Becking struggled with the altitude on Stage 3. Photo by Gabri Amoros/Andorra Epic.

The dominance of Calderon and Kortekaas was not echoed by Hans Becking and Wout Alleman in the UCI men’s race. Though their yellow jersey defence started well enough, the men from the low countries, of the Netherlands and Belgium, struggled in the thin air of Andorra near the Funicamp summit. Having followed the early accelerations of Mantecon and Maria Sanchez the BUFF Megamo men faltered, slightly, nearing the 2 500 metres above sea level mark.

Scott Cala-Bandida took a 23 second advantage thought the aid station, at the highest point of the race, and extended it to 72 seconds on the Mont Màgic DH which followed. The Spanish riders then kept up that pace over the second half of the course, gradually extending their advantage on the day and eating into BUFF Megamo’s general classification lead. Their hard-fought stage victory sets the race up for a thrilling final day.

Scott Cala-Bandida

Scott Cala-Bandida’s Sergio Mantecon and Jose Maria Sanchez had a stellar day on the bike on Stage 3, winning the stage and putting themselves in contention for overall victory on Stage 4. Photo by Oriol Batista/Andorra Epic

“The start was super-fast, [ORBEA Leatt] Speed Company tried to break the race, and then we saw in the middle of the first climb that the BUFF [Megamo] team were starting to struggle,” Mantecon retold. “When we saw that we knew we had to go full gas until the end of the stage, to make the biggest difference. Tomorrow will be a perfect day to push from the beginning, to try to take the overall lead and also to enjoy the trails.”

“Today was the Queen Stage with a lot of climbing and the first climb was just super long,” Alleman puffed. “The guys attacked immediately, but we could hold Scott Cala-Bandida’s wheel until the final 10 minutes of the climb. Then it was just too much for Hans, and also for me it felt really fast. So, we decided to go our own pace and finally we lost 2 and a half minutes. That is quite a lot, but we still have 1:16 in the overall, so tomorrow will be the decisive day. They will fight hard for it. But so will we!”

Wout Alleman

Wout Alleman’s calm composure helped BUFF Megamo limit their losses to the runaway leaders. Photo by Oriol Batista/Andorra Epic

Saturday’s final stage is, on paper, the easiest day of the race. The route is 51 kilometres long, starting in the Naturland Adventure Park. It begins with a climb in the park, before turning north down the Bosc de la Rabassa trail, passing La Comabella and through the outskirts of Sant Julià de Lòria and Andorra la Vella en route to La Massana. In total Stage 4 includes 1 280 metres of climbing, but rewards with 1 650 metres of memorable descending. A team who establishes an early advantage on the first climb, in the opening 15 kilometres of the stage, could well use the next 36 kilometres to defend that time gap. This as well as the UCI men’s race situation sets Stage 4 up to be a thriller.

To share in action of the final stage mountain biking fans can like the Andorra Epic Facebook page or follow @andorra_epic on Instagram. Highlights from the race can also be viewed on the Epic Series YouTube Channel. To find out more visit www.epic-series.com/andorra.

Mont Màgic DH

The Mont Màgic DH was among the undisputed highlights of the Andorra Epic Pyrenees, thus far. Photo by Oriol Batista/Andorra Epic

2024 Andorra Epic Pyrenees Results

UCI Men | Stage 3:

  1. Scott Cala-Bandida: Sergio Mantecon & Jose Maria Sanchez (2:59:36)
  2. Klimatiza Toteemi Cabberty 2: Luis Martínez & Sebastián Andrés Gesche Antona (3:01:41 | +2:05)
  3. BUFF Megamo: Hans Becking & Wout Alleman (3:02:15 | +2:39)
  4. Torpado Kenda Factory: Diego Rosa & Peeter Pruus (3:02:51 | +3:15)
  5. ORBEA x Leatt x Speed Company: Georg Egger & Lukas Baum (3:03:05 | +3:29)

UCI Women | Stage 3:

  1. Cannondale ISB Sport: Monica Calderon & Tessa Kortekaas (3:52:55)
  2. Cannondale ISB Sport 2: Meritxell Figueras & Claudia Peretti (3:59:41 | +6:46)
  3. Fundación Biela: Almudena Rodríguez López De Armentia & Sara Caballero Pomares (5:02:20 | +1:09:25)
Scott Cala-Bandida

Sergio Mantecon (left) and Jose Maria Sanchez (right) smiling after their stage victory. Photo by Toni Grases/Andorra Epic

UCI Men | General Classification after Stage 3:

  1. BUFF Megamo: Hans Becking & Wout Alleman (7:05:25)
  2. Scott Cala-Bandida: Sergio Mantecon & Jose Maria Sanchez (7:06:41 | +1:16)
  3. Torpado Kenda Factory: Diego Rosa & Peeter Pruus (7:11:45 | +6:20)
  4. Klimatiza Toteemi Cabberty 2: Luis Martínez & Sebastián Andrés Gesche Antona (7:12:27 | +7:02)
  5. ORBEA x Leatt x Speed Company: Georg Egger & Lukas Baum (7:13:04 | +7:39)

UCI Women | General Classification after Stage 3:

  1. Cannondale ISB Sport: Monica Calderon & Tessa Kortekaas (9:01:47)
  2. Cannondale ISB Sport 2: Meritxell Figueras & Claudia Peretti (9:12:22 | +10:35)
  3. Fundación Biela: Almudena Rodríguez López De Armentia & Sara Caballero Pomares (11:32:53 | +2:31:06)

To view the full results from the 2024 Andorra Epic Pyrenees, click here.

Jose Maria Sanchez

Jose Maria Sanchez won the Spanish Marathon Championship just ahead of the Andorra Epic Pyrenees. Photo by Toni Grases/Andorra Epic