Frenchman Julien Absalon, winner of the past four consecutive men's elite cross country world titles, could not withstand the heat nor the power of the Swiss riders in Val di Sole on Sunday. The 27-year-old withdrew from the race with heat exhaustion after suffering from an early mechanical and then trying to chase back on under the searing sun and the blistering pace of winner Christoph Sauser and his Swiss team-mates Florian Vogel and Ralph Naef.
Absalon told AFP that he was so focused on recovering from his early mishap that he did not stay sufficiently hydrated. He made it as close as fourth place on the circuit at the end of the first lap before fading to sixth and eventually abandoning the race.
He will have a chance to redeem himself at the Olympic Games in August, but said, "I will not be the only favourite there."