Nino Schurter (Scott Swisspower) took his second UCI Mountain Bike World Cup cross country victory of the 2012 season on Sunday when he defeated his rivals in Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic. The win was the perfect birthday present for Schurter, who turned 26 on race day.
Schurter fought in one of the tightest World Cup battles yet and came out just six seconds ahead of his rival Jaroslav Kulhavy (Specialized), who was racing on home soil, and 17 seconds ahead of Burry Stander (Specialized). It wasn't until just before the final lap, that the five-man lead group, which also included Marco Fontana (Cannondale) and Ralph Naef (Multivan Merida) began to splinter.
After Fontana and Naef dropped off, Schurter attacked the two Specialized riders with about two minutes to go on the final lap. He charged up the last climb in the lead and held off his challengers until the finish in front of a huge crowd packing the stands.
"I still had a little open bill with Jaroslav as he won against me at the Worlds in my country (Switzerland) last year in Champéry," said Schurter. "It was really hard to race today but in the end I felt super strong to win this race."
Schurter celebrated his 26th birthday with a well-deserved bottle of champagne.
It wasn't all smooth sailing though for Schurter, who finished second in the second World Cup in Houffalize, Belgium after winning round 2. "I made a mistake in the first lap. I dropped my chain and had to catch up to the leading group," said Schurter on his tough start to the race.
Throughout the race, the Swiss rider was impressed by the crowds lining the course. They cheered all the racers, no matter their nationality. "It was an awesome race in front of the Czech crowd," said Schurter.
Schurter now leads the World Cup ranking with 700 points, a comfortable 190-point leader over Stander.