Switzerland's Mathias Flückiger capped off a perfect season last weekend by winning the under 23 men's cross country race at the mountain bike world championships in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec, Canada.
"I've had a good season, and I finished it off well here at the world championships," said Flückiger. "I also won the Under 23 World Cup." He had secured that title the previous weekend in Windham, New York.
"Last week, I was at the World Cup final, which isn't the best preparation for worlds, but I was able to win."
Flückiger overcame a flat on the second lap during the race at Worlds. "When that happened, I thought maybe it was wasn't my day, then I found my rhythmn and I made an attack in the technical sections. I think my bike was a big advantage." Flückiger rode a 26-inch wheeled full suspension Trek, custom painted with Canadian flags.
Fortunately, for Flückiger, the leak was a slow one and he could ride it until he reached the tech zone. "The front wheel was sketchy in corners until I got it changed. I lost some seconds on the way to the tech zone and then once I was in the tech zone getting a wheel swap. It was disappointing to me, but I was able to get back in the lead group."
He had also crashed the previous day just before the infamous rock chute. He slammed his knee, but he said it didn't bother him on race day although it had curtailed his day-before-race training to just one lap of the race course.
The Swiss dominated the Under 23 men's world championship race, sweeping all three podium spots.
"We had no team strategy," said Flückiger. "We have a lot of good riders and of course, the whole team was trying to win medals. This time it was perfect, we won three medals." Thomas Litscher and Patrik Gallati brought home the other two.
"I didn't have a big gap today with 30 seconds. It was difficult," said Flückiger. Nonetheless, the petite Swiss rider will get to wear the rainbow stripes for the next year as he starts the slow, steady march toward and Olympic Games goal.
"It's hard to qualify for the Olympic Games. Switzerland has a lot of good riders. It's going to be difficult to get to London."