Trek World Racing's Lukas Flueckiger won his first elite Swiss national championship title by taking the victory at the Swiss Cyclo-cross National Championships on Sunday. Flueckiger was the most successful of several mountain bikers who contested the 'cross championships.
Not considered a true favorite before the event and unsure about his level of preparation, the 25-year-old Flueckiger took a good look at the flat course before the race and gave himself a shot at possibly winning a medal. The course, run on frozen ground, was super icy in sections.
Ralph Näf (Multivan Merida Biking Team), Florian Vogel (Scott-Swisspower MTB Racing), Marcel Wildhaber (Scott-Swisspower MTB Racing), and Martin Gujan (Cannondale Factory Racing) were some of the other international calibre mountain bikers on the start line in Rennaz-Noville. Many considered the short course, with a multitude of short climbs and tight corners, well suited for those crossing over from the fat-tire world, but the mountain bikers would face tough competition from Christian Heule, who is ranked number nine in the UCI Cyclo-cross World Rankings.
"I had a good start and rode the first two laps in the lead. Later Heule and Vogel caught back up to me. We then rode the first six laps together," said Flueckiger. "From the beginning, this race was very, very fast and we had no chance for recovery!"
"Three laps from the finish, Vogel and I attacked and Heule had a small crash. We got a 15-second lead. Then with two laps to go, Heule was still 15 seconds behind us and he punctured. This was the chance for Vogel and me."
"I felt really good and tried to make one attack after the other against Florian. In the last lap, I attacked on a technical section and got a 15-second advantage on him."
In the end, Flueckiger won by 10 seconds. Vogel was second, and Huele followed another 39 seconds later. Näf and Wildhaber brought home fourth and fifth for the mountain bikers while Gujan was sixth.
Flueckiger will have to decide between racing cyclo-cross worlds and attending a team training camp.