Julien Absalon (France) has won all the major mountain bike races multiple times. He has four world championship titles, two Olympic Gold Medals and 26 World Cup victories. On Sunday, he added his second European title to his palmares.
Absalon seems to feel very much at home on the Gurten where he has won four times in his career. He made it five in the Bernese mountains with a solo win. The French rider dominated the race, beating the Swiss favorite Nino Schurter by two minutes.
Driven by 15,000 spectators, Absalon and Schurter opened up a gap early in the race, and it became clear at the end of the second lap that the title would be decided between the two.
Absalon was looking strong throughout the race but Schurter seemed capable of keeping up with the Frenchman's recurring attacks. The deciding moment came towards the end of the fifth lap. Absalon attacked on a steep climb, and Schurter could not react.
The Frenchman said that he "had wanted to lead the race, dictate the tempo and try to ride a really fast pace to secure the win."
"Absalon was the best rider today," said Schurter. "He was in his own league today, but I am thankful for the silver medal. The atmosphere around the course was fantastic."
Marco Fontana (Italy) secured third place and was happy with the result. "After my injury, I started to feel stronger in the last weeks, so I really hoped I would be fit enough to win a medal. The difficult course with many technical sections definitely played to my strengths."
The top three women in the current World Cup standings shared the podium at the European Championship: World Cup leader Tanja Zakelj (Slovenia) won the gold medal. Eva Lechner from Italy, third in the World Cup, took silver, narrowly beating Polish bronze medal winner Maja Wloszczowska, who herself is currently second in the World Cup. Katrin Leumann put in a strong word for the Swiss team, finishing fifth.
The beginning of the race, in light rain, was very hectic. Zakelj , leading the pack, fell in the last curve leading up to the combination jump. Following cyclists had to brake hard and turn around to use the "chicken line", as riders could only master the jump combination if a certain speed was attained.
Zakelj recovered fast, and quickly rejoined the leaders. She retook the lead shortly after and continuously increased it throughout the race. The strategy of the new European Champion proved right:
"I wanted to be part of the leading pack, and then see how I feel during the race. I think it was in the third round when a cyclist behind me made a mistake and I was able to open a bit of a gap. From there on I just sought to keep up the pace, which did indeed secure me the victory."
For much of the race it looked as if Katrin Leumann (Switzerland) would also be involved in the fight for the medals. But in the final part of the race, Lechner and Wloszczowska as well as the Czech racer Katerina Nash managed to get passed the Swiss hopeful. Leumann, last year's European Champion, explained after the race, "I got cramps in my legs and knew that if I kept on pushing, there would be a risk of falling back further or even having to quit the race. At the end, I hoped to catch up with the frontrunners or that they would make a mistake. But they were all too strong today."
Esther Süss, silver medal winner at the 2012 European Championship in Moscow, was delayed by a fall in the early stages of the race. She finished the race in sixth position, one place behind her fellow countrywoman Leumann.
Podium-favorite Alexandra Engen (Sweden) had to sit out the cross country race, as she did the eliminator due to illness.
"Unfortunately the cold has decided to stay, so I have to pass on the race,” said a disappointed Engen at her team's headquarters in Bern. “All I can do now is look forward to the marathon world champs in Kirchberg/Austria next weekend."
Neither the pre-race favorite, U23 World Cup winner Markus Schulte-Lützum from Germany nor Michiel van der Heijden of the Netherlands stood at the medal ceremony after demanding U23 race. The surprise winner was Jordan Sarrou (France), who had a solo victory margin of 12 seconds. The Frenchman only got to the front near the end of the race. The sprint for second place was won by Belgian Jens Schuermans, just ahead of Frenchman Hugo Drechou.
For a long time, it looked as if Reto Indergand (Swiss) could win a medal in front of a home crowd. The Silener controlled the race from the start and was in the top group. However, things went haywire in the final. Others got in front of Indergand after he crashed.
"At the beginning, I was not going all out, even though I felt great. Therefore it is all the more annoying that it ended at the end as it did. At the moment I'm not really proud of the result," said a self-critical Indergand.
"There was a crash under the bridge at the end of the second last lap. I was blocked and could not go forward as desired. During the race, I was able to fight my way through to the front. However, I slipped with my front wheel and crashed. In the end, then I missed the power to do something on the final climb."
Hardly believing his luck was Sarrou. "This is an incredible moment for me. I soon caught a good group and after the mishap by Reto Indergand and Nicholas Pettina, I benefited." In the beginning of the race, Sarrou paced himself in order not to show his cards too early. His goal going into the race was a top five. "This is really a big day for me. My first victory, and the same for the European Championships. This is incredible! "
Markus Schulte-Lützum spoke of his race. "On the first lap, I felt like it was hard to get into the race. For this, I was still in second place. I had tried everything to come forward. In the steep parts, I simply lacked the strength. Halfway through the race, the gap was simply too big and it became mental. I wanted to get a medal, and it is a pity that it did not work."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Julien Absalon (France)||1:32:21|
|2||Nino Schurter (Switzerland)||0:01:53|
|3||Marco Aurelio Fontana (Italy)||0:02:06|
|4||Lukas Flückiger (Switzerland)||0:02:18|
|5||Jose Antonio Hermida Ramos (Spain)||0:02:20|
|6||Sven Nys (Belgium)||0:02:27|
|7||Ondrej Cink (Czech Republic)|
|8||Alexander Gehbauer (Austria)||0:02:50|
|9||Jan Skarnitzl (Czech Republic)||0:02:59|
|10||Michal Lami (Slovakia)||0:03:05|
|11||Moritz Milatz (Germany)||0:03:14|
|12||Rudi Van Houts (Netherlands)||0:03:15|
|13||Maxime Marotte (France)||0:03:33|
|14||Florian Vogel (Switzerland)||0:03:44|
|15||Martin Loo (Estonia)||0:04:04|
|16||Kevin Van Hoovels (Belgium)||0:04:13|
|17||Sergio Mantecon Gutierrez (Spain)||0:04:18|
|18||Nicola Rohrbach (Switzerland)||0:04:27|
|19||Miguel Martinez (France)||0:04:40|
|20||Andrea Tiberi (Italy)||0:04:48|
|21||Fabian Giger (Switzerland)||0:04:55|
|22||Emil Lindgren (Sweden)||0:05:05|
|23||Thomas Litscher (Switzerland)||0:05:15|
|24||David Rosa (Portugal)||0:05:21|
|25||Anton Sintsov (Russian Federation)||0:05:24|
|26||Matthias Wengelin (Sweden)||0:05:47|
|27||Mirko Tabacchi (Italy)||0:05:49|
|28||Karl Markt (Austria)||0:05:58|
|29||Sergii Rysenko (Ukraine)||0:06:27|
|30||Martin Fanger (Switzerland)||0:07:14|
|31||Uwe Hochenwarter (Austria)||0:07:27|
|32||Dmytro Titarenko (Ukraine)||0:07:41|
|33||Simon Stiebjahn (Germany)||0:08:10|
|34||Martin Haring (Slovakia)||0:08:35|
|35||Shlomi Haimy (Israel)||0:08:49|
|36||Pavel Priadein (Russian Federation)||0:09:08|
|37||Oleksandr Gerashchenko (Ukraine)||0:10:23|
|38||Fabien Canal (France)||0:11:20|
|-1lap||Henk Jaap Moorlag (Netherlands)|
|-1lap||Michele Casagrande (Italy)|
|-1lap||Volodymyr Zinovkyn (Ukraine)|
|-3laps||Mykhaylo Batsutsa (Ukraine)|
|DNF||Jiri Novak (Czech Republic)|
|DNF||Marek Konwa (Poland)|
|DNF||Mathias Flückiger (Switzerland)|
|DNF||Andy Eyring (Germany)|
|DNF||Daniel Federspiel (Austria)|
|DNS||Jukka Vastaranta (Finland)|
|DNS||Simon Gegenheimer (Germany)|
|DNS||Franz Hofer (Italy)|
|DNS||Cristian Cominelli (Italy)|
|DNS||Fabian Rabensteiner (Italy)|
|DNS||Roman Kyva (Ukraine)|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Tanja Zakelj (Slovenia)||1:34:33|
|2||Eva Lechner (Italy)||0:00:38|
|3||Maja Wloszczowska (Poland)||0:01:35|
|4||Katerina Nash (Czech Republic)||0:01:56|
|5||Katrin Leumann (Switzerland)||0:02:10|
|6||Esther Süss (Switzerland)||0:03:16|
|7||Julie Bresset (France)||0:03:22|
|8||Elisabeth Osl (Austria)||0:04:19|
|9||Katarzyna Solus-Miskowicz (Poland)||0:04:43|
|10||Irina Kalentieva (Russian Federation)||0:05:19|
|11||Nathalie Schneitter (Switzerland)||0:05:48|
|12||Sabrina Enaux (France)||0:06:20|
|13||Hanna Klein (Germany)||0:06:29|
|14||Vera Andreeva (Russian Federation)||0:06:54|
|15||Githa Michiels (Belgium)||0:07:08|
|16||Lene Byberg (Norway)||0:07:53|
|17||Anna Szafraniec (Poland)||0:08:09|
|18||Corina Gantenbein (Switzerland)||0:09:33|
|19||Kateryna Naberezhna (Ukraine)||0:10:05|
|20||Nadine Rieder (Germany)||0:11:11|
|21||Anna Villar Argente (Spain)||0:12:23|
|22||Kathrin Stirnemann (Switzerland)||0:12:47|
|23||Iryna Slobodyan (Ukraine)||0:13:56|
|24||Elvira Khairullina (Russian Federation)||0:16:43|
|-3laps||Maaris Meier (Estonia)|
|DNF||Serena Calvetti (Italy)|
|DNF||Aleksandra Dawidowicz (Poland)|
|DNS||Alexandra Engen (Sweden)|
|DNS||Annie Last (United Kingdom)|
|DNS||Anja Gradl (Germany)|
|DNS||Nataliia Krompets (Ukraine)|
|DNS||Sonja Kallio (Finland)|
|DNS||Annika Langvad (Denmark)|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Jordan Sarrou (France)||1:25:13|
|2||Jens Schuermans (Belgium)||0:00:12|
|3||Hugo Drechou (France)||0:00:14|
|4||Michiel Van Der Heijden (Netherlands)||0:00:16|
|5||Nicholas Pettina (Italy)||0:00:27|
|6||Grant Ferguson (United Kingdom)||0:00:28|
|7||Reto Indergand (Switzerland)|
|8||Gerhard Kerschbaumer (Italy)||0:01:20|
|9||Jeff Luyten (Belgium)||0:01:58|
|10||Pablo Rodriguez Guede (Spain)||0:02:21|
|11||Ruben Scheire (Belgium)||0:02:44|
|12||Luca Braidot (Italy)||0:02:49|
|13||Bartlomiej Wawak (Poland)||0:02:52|
|14||Didier Bats (Belgium)||0:03:04|
|15||Jan Nesvadba (Czech Republic)||0:03:09|
|16||Daniele Braidot (Italy)||0:03:29|
|17||Markus Schulte-Lünzum (Germany)||0:03:35|
|18||Julien Trarieux (France)||0:03:38|
|19||Julian Schelb (Germany)|
|20||Andri Frischknecht (Switzerland)||0:03:50|
|21||Matthias Stirnemann (Switzerland)||0:03:52|
|22||Frantisek Lami (Slovakia)||0:03:59|
|23||Kenta Gallagher (United Kingdom)||0:04:07|
|24||Christian Pfäffle (Germany)||0:04:37|
|25||Edvard Vea Iversen (Norway)||0:05:12|
|26||Emilien Barben (Switzerland)||0:05:14|
|27||Gregor Raggl (Austria)||0:05:41|
|28||Enea Vetsch (Switzerland)||0:05:48|
|29||Marc Stutzmann (Switzerland)||0:06:00|
|30||David Simon (Germany)|
|31||Andrea Righettini (Italy)||0:06:18|
|32||Tomas Paprstka (Czech Republic)||0:06:31|
|33||Mário Costa (Portugal)||0:06:40|
|34||Lorenzo Samparisi (Italy)||0:07:06|
|35||Markus Preiss (Austria)||0:07:15|
|36||Aaron Beck (Germany)||0:07:16|
|37||Martin Gluth (Germany)||0:07:56|
|38||Artem Shevtsov (Ukraine)||0:09:13|
|39||Louis Wolf (Germany)||0:09:35|
|40||Rok Korosec (Slovenia)||0:10:10|
|41||Gonçalo Amado (Portugal)||0:10:37|
|42||Martin Stosek (Czech Republic)||0:11:04|
|43||Jozef Bebcak (Slovakia)||0:11:29|
|44||Urban Ferencak (Slovenia)||0:11:47|
|45||Krystof Bogar (Czech Republic)||0:11:51|
|46||Beltain Schmid (Italy)||0:12:49|
|47||Ruslan Boredskii (Russian Federation)||0:13:30|
|-1lap||Mykola Shepel (Ukraine)|
|-1lap||Perttu Pärssinen (Finland)|
|-1lap||Andrey Myshakov (Russian Federation)|
|-2laps||Tymur Rusiia (Ukraine)|
|-2laps||Paolo Rigo (Croatia)|
|DNF||Erik Jonsson (Sweden)|
|DNF||Marko Popovic (Serbia)|
|DNS||Stefano Valdrighi (Italy)|
|DNS||Nicolo Ferrazzo (Italy)|