Germany's Sabine Spitz opened up a commanding, one-minute lead from the rest of the field and then stayed out in front to a spectacular finish with a gold-medal time in 1:45:11. Trailing behind the leader by more than forty seconds, Poland's Maja Włoszczowska took home the silver in 1:45:52, while Russian rider Irina Kalentieva held off a tight battle with Canada's Catharine Pendrel down the final lap to grab the bronze in 1:46:28. Among the 30 mountain bikers who competed in the cross-country race, only eighteen of them managed to complete the full distance.
The competition began at 10:00 am with a mass-start in which riders are positioned according to their current world ranking so that the higher-ranked riders are near the front. The cross-country race also involved six laps, with 172 m of elevation change for each, around the 4.8 km course at Laoshan Mountain Bike Course.