TechPowered By

More tech

2012 Olympic Games 2012

Date range:
July 28 - August 12, 2012

August 12, Olympic Men's Mountain Bike Race: Essex

Complete Live Report

Live commentary by:
Sue George

Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the men's mountain bike race on this final day of the Olympic Games.  The men will start at 1:30 pm local time and race for about 1.5 hours.

  1. 13:16:15 BST

    Today's men's mountain bike race is the final cycling event of the 2012 Olympic Games.  The women raced yesterday, and Julie Bresset (France), Sabine Spitz (Germany) and Georgia Gould (USA) are going home with medals.  Check out our full race coverage. www.cyclingnews.com/2012-olympic-games/olympic-womens-mountain-bike-race/results

  2. 13:26:14 BST

    It looks like another beautiful day for mountain bike racing at Hadleigh Park.  The sun is shining and the crowds are out in force again as the men are called up one by one to the start line.

  3. 13:29:03 BST

    Julien Absalon (France) won the gold medal in both 2004 in Athens and 2008 in Beijing.  He is back on the start line today and will be trying to go for #3 in a row.  Whether or not he is the favorite is tough to say.  You could probably flip a coin between him and Nino Schurter (Switzerland), who just won the World Cup and has been consistently fast all season.  Of course, there are a handful of other contenders that could surprise today.  This season, the men's cross country racing has been very exciting, with lots of different faces on the World Cup podium.

  4. 13:31:57 BST

    You can't count out riders like world champion Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech).  He hasn't been dominant this year, but is known to put in some huge rides to crush his competition.

  5. 13:32:05 BST

    And they're off!

  6. 13:33:31 BST

    Nino Schurter gets the hole shot.  We've seen him go straight to the front in many races. 

  7. 13:34:13 BST

    Despite the chaos of the start, it seems to be a clean one.  There are only 50 men on the line instead of the up to 200 men we often have a World Cup start.

  8. 13:34:52 BST

    It is a little strange seeing all the guys in their national kits instead of their trade team kits.

  9. 13:35:40 BST

    Nino Schurter is still leading the train.  He is followed immediately by Manuel Fumic (Germany), a proven fast starter.  Swiss rider Florian Vogel, another good starter, is right behind him.

  10. 13:36:16 BST

    We've just spotted Americans Todd Wells and Sam Schultz passing by, near each other.

  11. 13:36:44 BST

    Jaroslav Kulhavy has moved up into third place, just behind Nino Schurter and Manuel Fumic.

  12. 13:37:14 BST

    We spotted Julien Absalon just outside the top 5.  We're looking to see if he's still there.

  13. 13:38:14 BST

    Marek Konwa (Poland) is putting in a good ride, up with the top riders.

  14. 13:38:39 BST

    We've spotted Julien Absalon in eighth place.

  15. 13:39:21 BST

    Another rider up there toward the front of the long train of riders strung out on the singletrack is Marco Fontana (Italy), He is another man we might see on the podium today.

  16. 13:40:13 BST

    Jaroslav Kulhavy has fired up the diesel engine and is at the front through a downhill rock garden.  The men are absolutely flying over this, so fast they go by almost in a blur.

  17. 13:41:27 BST

    Nino Schurter takes back over at the front.  Everyone wants to be up there setting the pace and staying out of possible trouble.  If you are at the front, no one can mess up in front of you.

  18. 13:42:10 BST

    It's Nino Schurter, Jaroslav Kulhavy, Marco Fontana and Manuel Fumic, then Florian Vogel and Marek Konwa in that order at 10 minutes into the race.

  19. 13:43:11 BST

    Julien Absalon is pretty far back.  He is getting passed by several riders on a climb and by his body language, he does not look so good.

  20. 13:44:02 BST

    Nino Schurter leads Jaroslav Kulhavy and Marco Fontana.  They have a slight gap of a few seconds on the rest.

  21. 13:45:15 BST

    Not far behind is Jose Antonio Hermida (Spain).  The 2012 world champion is working his way up.  Hermida is one of the most entertaining riders in the peloton, and you can't count him out for a medal today.  He's also one of the most experienced riders.  He won silver in 2004 in Athens.

  22. 13:45:44 BST

    Burry Stander is riding in 11th place.  Geoff Kabush looks like top North American in 15th.

  23. 13:45:57 BST

    Sam Schultz and Todd Wells are riding in 18th and 19th.

  24. 13:46:16 BST

    Julien Absalon (France) is back in 27th place.  Looks like no medal for him today.

  25. 13:47:04 BST

    The three leaders just saw six laps to go and are out on lap two.  Jaroslav Kulhavy leads Nino Schurter and Manuel Fumic through the rocks.  Of course, all three riders take the small gap jump over some rocks.

  26. 13:47:55 BST

    Jose Hermida is chasing alone in fourth place.  That's a tough place to be on this very open course.  It's nice if you have company when you are chasing guys like the three in front.

  27. 13:48:17 BST

    The three leaders just saw six laps to go and are out on lap two.  Jaroslav Kulhavy leads Nino Schurter and Marco Fontana through the rocks.  Of course, all three riders take the small gap jump over some rocks.

  28. 13:48:40 BST

    The three leaders just saw six laps to go and are out on lap two.  Jaroslav Kulhavy leads Nino Schurter and Marco Fontana through the rocks.  Of course, all three riders take the small gap jump over some rocks.

  29. 13:49:15 BST

    Correction on what we said earlier.  It's Marco Fontana (Italy), not Manuel Fumic (Germany) in the lead trio. Fumic is in the top 10, but a bit further back.

  30. 13:50:28 BST

    Nino Schurter (Switzerland) and Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech) are the strongest two in the break.  They are trading the leads.  Marco Fontana (Italy) is trying to hang on to them for dear life.

  31. 13:51:34 BST

    Jose Hermida is in fourth place at 11 seconds.  Burry Stander has moved up and is in fifth place.  We've seen Stander do this before - start a little slower and get faster and faster as the race goes on.

  32. 13:52:16 BST

    We've just got word that Julien Absalon (France) crashed, which accounts for why he didn't look so well back in 27th place at about 1:19 on the first lap.

  33. 13:53:03 BST

    Home crowd favorite Liam Killeen (Great Britain) is spotted down and receiving medical attention along side the course.  He finished 7th and 5th at the last two Olympic Games respectively and was hoping for a medal today.

  34. 13:54:19 BST

    With Nino Schurter on his 650b wheeled hardtail, Jaroslav Kulhavy on his 29er full suspension and Marco Fontana on his 29er hardtail, it just goes to show it's not about about the bike. The fast men are fast on whatever they race.


  35. 13:55:42 BST

    Marco Fontana (Italy) is having the ride of his life so far.  Fontana has been super motivated for these Olympics.  His weakness has traditionally been not being able to keep up a fast pace after starting too fast, but back in February, he told us he was working on this.  We'll see today how well he has done his homework.

  36. 13:56:27 BST

    Cyclo-cross star Sven Nys (Belgium) stops briefly to tweak something on his bike, perhaps with his drivetrain. Then he is back underway.

  37. 13:57:33 BST

    Burry Stander (South Africa) caught up to Jose Hermida (Spain) and the two are working together now to chase the three leaders.  Stander is a former U23 world champion and also happens to be Jaroslav Kulhavy's trade teammate on the Specialized squad.

  38. 13:58:49 BST

    Five laps to go and they've been averaging 23.1kph.  Whew!  They are about 25 minutes into the race.

  39. 13:59:13 BST

    Defending Olympic champion Julien Absalon (France) has abandoned the race.

  40. 14:00:39 BST

    Following our top 5, we have Stephane Tempier (France) in 6th, Alexander Gehbauer (Austria) in 7th, Geoff Kabush (Canada) in 8th, Florian Vogel (Switzerland) in 9th and Rudi van Houts (Netherlands) in 10th.

  41. 14:01:12 BST

    Todd Wells (USA) is riding well in 14th place, at 46 seconds and as the top American.

  42. 14:01:54 BST

    Liam Killeen (Great Britain), who we had mentioned earlier as a crash victim, has a suspected broken ankle.  He is out of the race.

  43. 14:02:41 BST

    On the long switchbacky, open climb, we still have our three leaders in the front and our two chasers at about 10 seconds.

  44. 14:03:14 BST

    Nino Schurter and Jaroslav Kulhavy continue to exchange leads at the front with Marco Fontana sticking to them like glue.

  45. 14:03:34 BST

    Burry Stander and Jose Hermida have closed slightly.  Their gap is six seconds.

  46. 14:05:07 BST

    Poor Julien Absalon is spotted with his backpack riding over to talk to TV cameras.  That's got to be a tough interview for him.  This is probably his last Olympic Games, but he is not retiring yet; he just inked a deal with BMC to race for two more years.  He is leaving the Orbea team.

  47. 14:06:27 BST

    Nino Schurter is a bit smaller and seems to have more juice in his legs for quick bursts of acceleration.  Jaroslav Kulhavy is more like a diesel, who keeps riding steadily and closing down the slight gaps. 

  48. 14:07:31 BST

    Last year's (2011's) world championship came down to Nino Schurter vs. Jaroslav Kulhavy.  In Champery, Switzerland, Kulhavy eventually dropped Schurter and rode away to take the win.  But this year, Schurter has been generally stronger than Kulhavy, so it will be interesting to see how today shakes out.

  49. 14:08:27 BST

    Personally, we wouldn't want to have to sprint Nino Schurter, should it come down to that.  As riders like Julien Absalon and Jose Hermida have found out through personal experience, Schurter is a tough man to outsprint at the end of races.

  50. 14:09:20 BST

    Jose Hermida and Burry Stander are so close to making contact with the three leaders.

  51. 14:10:11 BST

    The three in front seem to be easing up a bit and Burry Stander leaps around Jose Hermida to get even closer.

  52. 14:10:54 BST

    With four laps to go, we have a lead group o f five men: Nino Schurter, Jaroslav Kulhavy, Marco Fontana, Burry Stander and Jose Hermida.

  53. 14:12:20 BST

    A five-man lead group should make things even more interesting.  Burry Stander has realized he doesn't want to be too far back in that group and has moved up between Nino Schurter and Jaroslav Kulhavy.  Jose Hermida is tucked in behind Marco Fontana.

  54. 14:13:53 BST

    Going through the start/finish, Stephane Tempier (France) and Alex Gehbauer (Austria) were riding together in 6th and 7th, at 20 seconds off the leaders.  It's a good ride so far for both men.

  55. 14:14:46 BST

    The third group was made up of Manuel Fumic (Germany), Todd Wells (USA), Florian Vogel (Switzerland), Carlos Coloma (Spain) and Geoff Kabush (Canada).  All were at about 47 seconds.

  56. 14:15:51 BST

    Excepting Julien Absalon, this lead group contains all of the top favorites we had expected to be in contention for the win.

  57. 14:16:52 BST

    As the men ride through the feed and tech zone, they grab a quick drink at high speed.  They are nearing the 45-minutes mark, which puts them about halfway through the race.

  58. 14:18:02 BST

    Other DNFs so far besides Julien Absalon and Liam Killeen include Derek Horton (Guam), Robert Forstemann (Germany), Michael Vingerling (Netherlands) and Sam Bewley (New Zealand).

  59. 14:19:52 BST

    Burry Stander (South Africa) is at the front with Nino Schurter (Switzerland) just behind him, marking his surge.  Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech) is a little slower to respond, but he does while Marco Fontana (Italy) and Jose Hermida (Spain) try hard to hang on.

  60. 14:20:46 BST

    They are racing to the top of the hill to be first through the next tech section.  Nino Schurter wins that battle, followed by Jaroslav Kulhavy and Jose Hermida.  Then Marco Fontana and Burry Stander follow.

  61. 14:22:19 BST

    Burry Stander is slightly off the pace of the leaders after a slight bobble on that climb that gapped him.  They are going so hard, it's easy to make mistakes, even on a relatively simple looking open uphill.

  62. 14:22:42 BST

    Burry Stander regains contact and is back with the lead group.

  63. 14:23:14 BST

    They all coast for a minute to regroup physically and mentally as they come through at the end of lap 4.  Three laps to go.

  64. 14:24:36 BST

    Burry Stander doesn't want to have to repeat his chase effort and goes straight to the front to lead through the next downhill rock garden.

  65. 14:25:31 BST

    Alex Gehbauer and Stephane Tempier are maintaining their pace perfectly.  They are still right on at 20 seconds off the leaders.

  66. 14:26:17 BST

    Other top riders include Manuel Fumic in 8th at 40 seconds, Todd Wells in 9th at 45 seconds, Geoff Kabush at 47 seconds.  Sam Schultz is riding in 17th.

  67. 14:26:40 BST

    Jose Hermida has come off the leaders pace and is getting gapped.

  68. 14:27:13 BST

    The elastic is also looking a little worn for Marco Fontana.

  69. 14:27:33 BST

    But they all back off a bit through the feed zone and all five are back together again.

  70. 14:28:10 BST

    We expect to see continued surges from the strongest in the group as they go over and over again in an attempt to break the spirit and the legs of some of the others in the lead group.

  71. 14:29:23 BST

    Jaroslav Kulhavy, Nino Schurter and Jose Hermida are all former or current elite world champions.  The only former elite world champion missing from this group today is Julien Absalon.

  72. 14:30:43 BST

    Top chasers Alex Gehbauer and Stephane Tempier have dropped off the pace a bit.  They are at 37 seconds now and are about to be caught by Manuel Fumic at 40 seconds.  Todd Wells is in 9th at 51 seconds with Carlos Coloma just behind him, then Geoff Kabush at 57 seconds.

  73. 14:31:29 BST

    Jaroslav Kulhavy sets the pace for a bit before Nino Schurter surges past him to take a turn.  Burry Stander tries to follow, then Marco Fontana, then Jose Hermida.

  74. 14:32:04 BST

    Marco Fontana overtakes Burry Stander to get right back on Nino Schurter and Jaroslav Kulhavy.

  75. 14:32:42 BST

    Then all five come back together again going into this next climb.  Burry Stander and Jose Hermida seem to be suffering the most of the lead five at present.

  76. 14:33:37 BST

    Marco Fontana bumps his front wheel against the rear wheel of Nino Schurter.  The Italian bobbles and has to dab a foot, but doesn't go down.

  77. 14:34:17 BST

    The mistake has cost Marco Fontana a bit as he has to burn some more matches to close the gap that opened up.  He is almost back up.

  78. 14:34:49 BST

    That climb had a deleterious effect on Burry Stander and Jose Hermida, who were dropped after Fontana's mistake.

  79. 14:35:37 BST

    Jarolsav Kulhavy now leads Nino Schurter and Marco Fontana as he heads toward the finish of this lap.   The gap to the other two is significant and they are probably gone for good.

  80. 14:36:11 BST

    Jaroslav Kulhavy finishes lap 5 and sees two laps to go.  Nino Schurter and Marco Fontana are right behind him.

  81. 14:37:01 BST

    Burry Stander rolls through alone at 16 seconds.  Then Jose Hermida follows at 25 seconds.  Unless they make an amazing recovery or something happens to the three leaders, their medal chances are over.

  82. 14:38:16 BST

    Marco Fontana throws in a mini-whip as he goes over the gap jump right behind Jaroslav Kulhavy and Nino  Schurter, who take it straight on.

  83. 14:39:25 BST

    At the last split, Manuel Fumic was riding in sixth place at 51 seconds.  Then Carlos Coloma (1:02), Alex Gehbauer (1:02) and Stephane Tempier.  So the two chasers Gehbauer and Tempier have run out of gas and are moving backward.

  84. 14:39:47 BST

    Rudi Van Houts (Netherlands) stops along side the track to deal with a mechanical.

  85. 14:40:49 BST

    Max Plaxton (Canada) and Sven Nys (Belgium) have abandoned.  So has Andras Parti (Hungary).

  86. 14:41:29 BST

    At the front, Nino Schurter leads Jaroslav Kulhavy and Marco Fontana.  All three are together take hand-ups as they roll through the feed zone.

  87. 14:41:57 BST

    Burry Stander and Jose Hermida are back together again.  Both chase at 18 seconds behind the three leaders.

  88. 14:42:16 BST

    One and a half laps to go...

  89. 14:43:36 BST

    At the last Olympics in 2008, Julien Absalon won gold, followed by Jean-Christophe Peraud (France) and Nino Schurter (Switzerland).  Schurter is the only man back this time around in medal contention.  Although Peraud can claim to be the only man in today's race who also raced this year's Tour de France. 

  90. 14:44:20 BST

    As the leaders head toward 1 to go, they will feel the pressure increasing to make a move and get a gap. 

  91. 14:45:29 BST

    Supposedly, there were something like 20,000 tickets sold to the mountain bike event.  It's pretty cool to think that 20,000 people are watching this mountain bike race in person.

  92. 14:46:57 BST

    Body language-wise, both Nino Schurter and Jaroslav Kulhavy both still look pretty good.  Schurter is getting his usual small gaps in places while Kulhavy is continuing to power his diesel to close them. Marco Fontana is sitting on them, as he has done all race so far.  There's no pressure on him to take over as the other two are considered bigger favorites and are making each other.

  93. 14:48:07 BST

    Burry Stander and Jose Hermida continue to chase together but they are not making up ground.  Both are smart enough to know that anything can happen up at the front on the final lap and they could be back in medal contention in no time.

  94. 14:48:36 BST

    Huge cheers for the three leaders as they roll toward the line, where they'll see 1 lap to go.

  95. 14:49:02 BST

    The bell is rung.  Schurter leads through the finish at 1:16:47.

  96. 14:49:34 BST

    With the leaders sitting up slightly, Burry Stander and Jose Hermida have closed back to within 13 seconds.

  97. 14:50:45 BST

    The three leaders are together with Nino Schurter surging slightly.  Jaroslav Kulhavy chases as usual, then Marco Fontana.

  98. 14:51:27 BST

    With one to go, the other top 10 were Manuel Fumic (38 sec), Carlos Coloma (41 sec), Geoff Kabush (1:05), Alex Gehbaur (1:10) and Todd Wells (1:30).

  99. 14:52:25 BST

    At the end of the World Cup in Mont-Sainte-Anne in June, we saw an exciting sprint finish between Nino Schurter and Jose Hermida.  Schurter won.

  100. 14:52:52 BST

    Marco Fontana moves to the front.  He is leading Nino Schurter and Jaroslav Kulhavy.

  101. 14:53:22 BST

    Marco Fontana has never won a World Cup, though he has podiumed often, so if he pulls this one off, that would be a huge upset for Nino Schurter and Jaroslav Kulhavy.

  102. 14:53:48 BST

    Jaroslav Kulhavy is getting a bit gapped off on the climb.

  103. 14:54:23 BST

    Marco Fontana leads Nino Schurter.  Kulhavy is just three seconds back, but he doesn't look as strong.

  104. 14:54:40 BST

    In the chase, Burry Stander leads Jose Hermida.

  105. 14:55:10 BST

    Nino Schurter moves back into the front.  Then Marco Fontana.  Jarolsav Kulhavy has caught back up. and all three are together again.

  106. 14:55:39 BST

    Marco Fontana tries to get around Nino Schurter and he does.

  107. 14:56:23 BST

    All three clear the downhill rock garden.  Marco Fontana leads Nino Schurter and Jaroslav Kulhavy is still with them.

  108. 14:56:47 BST

    Nino Schurter says, no thanks, I want the lead back and moves around.  Jaroslav Kulhavy goes with him.

  109. 14:57:02 BST

    Marco Fontana drops off their pace slightly and is in third.

  110. 14:57:39 BST

    Marco Fontana put in a good effort.  Wonder if he can recover?

  111. 14:58:02 BST

    Jaroslav Kulhavy surges around Nino Schurter on the climb!

  112. 14:58:22 BST

    Marco Fontana is off the pace and probably will not catch them.

  113. 14:58:49 BST

    Kulhavy leads.  Schurter is right on him and then moves around.

  114. 14:59:05 BST

    Schurter now leads Kulhavy through some rocks.

  115. 14:59:34 BST

    Through the feed zone, Schurter leads and Kulhavy is right on him.

  116. 14:59:59 BST

    Fontana is blown and gone from the top 2 for good. He'll have to fight to keep the medal ahead of chasers Burry Stander and Jose Hermida.

  117. 15:00:14 BST

    Schurter still leads Kulhavy on another of these seated power climbs.

  118. 15:00:40 BST

    Coming into the finish, Schurter leads the final climb.

  119. 15:00:51 BST

    Kulhavy powers around to take over the lead.

  120. 15:01:02 BST

    Kulhavy leads into the final sprint.

  121. 15:01:30 BST

    Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech) wins the gold by one second over Nino Schurter (Switzerland).

  122. 15:01:53 BST

    Marco Fontana (Italy) holds on for third in a career best ride at 25 seconds.

  123. 15:02:23 BST

    Jose Hermida (Spain) finishes fourth ahead of Burry Stander (South Africa).

  124. 15:02:45 BST

    Carlos Coloma (Spain) is sixth at 1:00.  Manual Fumic (Germany) is seventh at 1:24.

  125. 15:03:38 BST

    Geoff Kabush (Canada) is 8th at 1:36.  Alex Gehbauer (Austria) takes 9th at 2:09 while Todd Wells finishes 10th at 2:21.  Stephane Tempier takes 11th at 2:23.

  126. 15:04:39 BST

    Sam Schultz (USA) rides in for 15th place at 3:22.

  127. 15:05:23 BST

    That wraps up our live Olympic coverage for 2012!  Thanks for joining us for an incredibly exciting men's mountain bike race.

  128. 15:06:39 BST

    Stay tuned for

    full coverage

    including the report and full results and plenty of photos to come from today's race.