Absalon and Zakelj win European cross country championships

Sarrou fastest among U23 men

Elite men

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."

Elite women

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."

U23 men

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."

Full Results

Elite men cross country
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Julien Absalon (France)1:32:21 
2Nino Schurter (Switzerland)0:01:53 
3Marco Aurelio Fontana (Italy)0:02:06 
4Lukas Flückiger (Switzerland)0:02:18 
5Jose Antonio Hermida Ramos (Spain)0:02:20 
6Sven Nys (Belgium)0:02:27 
7Ondrej Cink (Czech Republic)  
8Alexander Gehbauer (Austria)0:02:50 
9Jan Skarnitzl (Czech Republic)0:02:59 
10Michal Lami (Slovakia)0:03:05 
11Moritz Milatz (Germany)0:03:14 
12Rudi Van Houts (Netherlands)0:03:15 
13Maxime Marotte (France)0:03:33 
14Florian Vogel (Switzerland)0:03:44 
15Martin Loo (Estonia)0:04:04 
16Kevin Van Hoovels (Belgium)0:04:13 
17Sergio Mantecon Gutierrez (Spain)0:04:18 
18Nicola Rohrbach (Switzerland)0:04:27 
19Miguel Martinez (France)0:04:40 
20Andrea Tiberi (Italy)0:04:48 
21Fabian Giger (Switzerland)0:04:55 
22Emil Lindgren (Sweden)0:05:05 
23Thomas Litscher (Switzerland)0:05:15 
24David Rosa (Portugal)0:05:21 
25Anton Sintsov (Russian Federation)0:05:24 
26Matthias Wengelin (Sweden)0:05:47 
27Mirko Tabacchi (Italy)0:05:49 
28Karl Markt (Austria)0:05:58 
29Sergii Rysenko (Ukraine)0:06:27 
30Martin Fanger (Switzerland)0:07:14 
31Uwe Hochenwarter (Austria)0:07:27 
32Dmytro Titarenko (Ukraine)0:07:41 
33Simon Stiebjahn (Germany)0:08:10 
34Martin Haring (Slovakia)0:08:35 
35Shlomi Haimy (Israel)0:08:49 
36Pavel Priadein (Russian Federation)0:09:08 
37Oleksandr Gerashchenko (Ukraine)0:10:23 
38Fabien Canal (France)0:11:20 
-1lapHenk Jaap Moorlag (Netherlands)  
-1lapMichele Casagrande (Italy)  
-1lapVolodymyr Zinovkyn (Ukraine)  
-3lapsMykhaylo Batsutsa (Ukraine)  
DNFJiri Novak (Czech Republic)  
DNFMarek Konwa (Poland)  
DNFMathias Flückiger (Switzerland)  
DNFAndy Eyring (Germany)  
DNFDaniel Federspiel (Austria)  
DNSJukka Vastaranta (Finland)  
DNSSimon Gegenheimer (Germany)  
DNSFranz Hofer (Italy)  
DNSCristian Cominelli (Italy)  
DNSFabian Rabensteiner (Italy)  
DNSRoman Kyva (Ukraine)  
Elite women cross country
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Tanja Zakelj (Slovenia)1:34:33 
2Eva Lechner (Italy)0:00:38 
3Maja Wloszczowska (Poland)0:01:35 
4Katerina Nash (Czech Republic)0:01:56 
5Katrin Leumann (Switzerland)0:02:10 
6Esther Süss (Switzerland)0:03:16 
7Julie Bresset (France)0:03:22 
8Elisabeth Osl (Austria)0:04:19 
9Katarzyna Solus-Miskowicz (Poland)0:04:43 
10Irina Kalentieva (Russian Federation)0:05:19 
11Nathalie Schneitter (Switzerland)0:05:48 
12Sabrina Enaux (France)0:06:20 
13Hanna Klein (Germany)0:06:29 
14Vera Andreeva (Russian Federation)0:06:54 
15Githa Michiels (Belgium)0:07:08 
16Lene Byberg (Norway)0:07:53 
17Anna Szafraniec (Poland)0:08:09 
18Corina Gantenbein (Switzerland)0:09:33 
19Kateryna Naberezhna (Ukraine)0:10:05 
20Nadine Rieder (Germany)0:11:11 
21Anna Villar Argente (Spain)0:12:23 
22Kathrin Stirnemann (Switzerland)0:12:47 
23Iryna Slobodyan (Ukraine)0:13:56 
24Elvira Khairullina (Russian Federation)0:16:43 
-3lapsMaaris Meier (Estonia)  
DNFSerena Calvetti (Italy)  
DNFAleksandra Dawidowicz (Poland)  
DNSAlexandra Engen (Sweden)  
DNSAnnie Last (United Kingdom)  
DNSAnja Gradl (Germany)  
DNSNataliia Krompets (Ukraine)  
DNSSonja Kallio (Finland)  
DNSAnnika Langvad (Denmark)  
U23 men cross country
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Jordan Sarrou (France)1:25:13 
2Jens Schuermans (Belgium)0:00:12 
3Hugo Drechou (France)0:00:14 
4Michiel Van Der Heijden (Netherlands)0:00:16 
5Nicholas Pettina (Italy)0:00:27 
6Grant Ferguson (United Kingdom)0:00:28 
7Reto Indergand (Switzerland)  
8Gerhard Kerschbaumer (Italy)0:01:20 
9Jeff Luyten (Belgium)0:01:58 
10Pablo Rodriguez Guede (Spain)0:02:21 
11Ruben Scheire (Belgium)0:02:44 
12Luca Braidot (Italy)0:02:49 
13Bartlomiej Wawak (Poland)0:02:52 
14Didier Bats (Belgium)0:03:04 
15Jan Nesvadba (Czech Republic)0:03:09 
16Daniele Braidot (Italy)0:03:29 
17Markus Schulte-Lünzum (Germany)0:03:35 
18Julien Trarieux (France)0:03:38 
19Julian Schelb (Germany)  
20Andri Frischknecht (Switzerland)0:03:50 
21Matthias Stirnemann (Switzerland)0:03:52 
22Frantisek Lami (Slovakia)0:03:59 
23Kenta Gallagher (United Kingdom)0:04:07 
24Christian Pfäffle (Germany)0:04:37 
25Edvard Vea Iversen (Norway)0:05:12 
26Emilien Barben (Switzerland)0:05:14 
27Gregor Raggl (Austria)0:05:41 
28Enea Vetsch (Switzerland)0:05:48 
29Marc Stutzmann (Switzerland)0:06:00 
30David Simon (Germany)  
31Andrea Righettini (Italy)0:06:18 
32Tomas Paprstka (Czech Republic)0:06:31 
33Mário Costa (Portugal)0:06:40 
34Lorenzo Samparisi (Italy)0:07:06 
35Markus Preiss (Austria)0:07:15 
36Aaron Beck (Germany)0:07:16 
37Martin Gluth (Germany)0:07:56 
38Artem Shevtsov (Ukraine)0:09:13 
39Louis Wolf (Germany)0:09:35 
40Rok Korosec (Slovenia)0:10:10 
41Gonçalo Amado (Portugal)0:10:37 
42Martin Stosek (Czech Republic)0:11:04 
43Jozef Bebcak (Slovakia)0:11:29 
44Urban Ferencak (Slovenia)0:11:47 
45Krystof Bogar (Czech Republic)0:11:51 
46Beltain Schmid (Italy)0:12:49 
47Ruslan Boredskii (Russian Federation)0:13:30 
-1lapMykola Shepel (Ukraine)  
-1lapPerttu Pärssinen (Finland)  
-1lapAndrey Myshakov (Russian Federation)  
-2lapsTymur Rusiia (Ukraine)  
-2lapsPaolo Rigo (Croatia)  
DNFErik Jonsson (Sweden)  
DNFMarko Popovic (Serbia)  
DNSStefano Valdrighi (Italy)  
DNSNicolo Ferrazzo (Italy)  


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