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Welcome to the elite men's race! We look for another exciting race over this challenging course. And once again, Sue George is on the scene for us.
Did you all catch the women's race earlier today? Maja Wloszczowska (Poland) took the title ahead of Russian Irina Kalentieva and American Willow Koerber.
The men are at the start line, and we regret to say we see some umbrellas.
Willow Koerber of the US finished third in the women's race today. Sue George asked Willow who she thought would win this men's race: "Nino Schurter, Julien Absalon, Jaroslav Kulhavy."
Nino Schurter of Switzerland is wearing nr. 1 here today. Nr. 2 goes to Julien Absalon of France.
The men will have two start laps, followed by six laps.
Off they go! 84 men are in chase of the world title!
They are off to a fast start.
Burry Stander of South Africa leads things, followed by Florian Vogel of Switzerland.
SG: Terrible start for Absalon. He's caught in mass of people, some who bobble.
Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech) is now in front.
Kulhavy leads the way up. There are aboaut 9 or 10 riders with a slight lead.
Absalon about 10th or 11th at the moment.
Kulhavy is ahead of Schuter and Vogel and is going down the shorter, more technical way.
A number of riders coming off on this rocky descent.
SG: The Ladies said the course wasn't really that slippery but was riding well. The leaders were all over the place on the last lap because they were so exhausted.
We see US rider Todd Wells.
They are now working their way up the hairpins.
Schurter and Kulhavy have big lead. Vogel is third.
SG: Tons of people out watching. They're heading up the mountain to find the good spots to watch.
Those hairpins are tough. Lots of riders coming off, having to put a foot down, slipping on the wet grass, etc.
Schurter and Kulhavy are together in the lead. We don't see the third placed rider yet.
Remember, this is just the start lap.
Behind the two leaders we have Stander leading 6 or 7 other riders.
Schurter has moved ahead of Kulhavy.
SG: The course should be riding really well for men. it was so dusty earlier this week and this rain was good for it.
SG: Just saw Spencer Paxson of the US go by. He must have won his petition to come to worlds after a podium at US nationals. Spencer was ahead of Adam Craig.
Schurter looks determined to defend his title. But perhaps he has gotten off too early? There's still a long way to go on this tough course.
Next year the Worlds return to Europe. They will be in Champery, Switzerland.
The two leaders have a nice gap on their way to the first real lap.
Stander has pulled away from the chasers. Absalon is moving up, too.
Kulhavy crosses the finish line one second ahead of Schurter. Stander is third at 14 seconds and Naef fourth at 19 seconds.
SG: Schurter on hardtail. Kulhavy on full suspension. Mix of bikes at worlds this year.
Absalon has already moved up to seventh place. SG: He makes it look so easy!
Schurter and Kulhovy continue to lead.
SG: Todd Wells top American in 14th. Geoff Kabush right behind him.
Schurter tries to pull away, but Kulhavy won't have that!
Sue told us earlier that the sun was peeking through, but we doubt that it is now. In fact, the umbrellas are popping up.
And even we typed that, Sue confirms that it is raining again.
Looks like the gap is nearly closed. Two more riders are coming up behind the Stander group.,
And it is now officially "absolutely pouring down rain".
This is apparently a result of Hurricane Earl, who has now moved into Canada.
Schurter has again moved ahead of Kulhavy.
The riders are now at the rocky downhill section and a number are deciding to run it.
Schurter hs a nice lead on Kulhavy now. Naef, Fontana and Stander are behind them. There are about seven riders in all who are away, and we think the race will probably be decided among them.
Schurter continues to pull away and build up his lead.
Kulhavy first over the finish line. What happened? Schurter only fourth!
Here are our top seven: Kulhavy, Naef, Fontana, Schurter (at 13 seconds), Stander, Hermida, and Absalon (at 21 seconds.)
SG: Schurter was leading and stopped in tech zone for assistance. He dropped to fourth. It was strategic of him to get there first with a bit of gap before seeking assistance. Kulhavy leads with 5 laps to go
It is still raining heavily.
Kulhavy alone in the lead, with Schurter leading the chase.
Naef and Fontana together with Schurter.
SG: Kulhavy is looking good and fresh off his Windham World Cup win last week. He's having great season. He's also the European champ too.
Kulhavy is building up his lead.
Only two chasers now, with the others dropped slighlty back.
Schurter and Fontana are second and third.
SG: Wells and Kabush look good but have some traffic in their way on uphill rock garden section
Schurter now leads Fontana and Absalon.
Schurter now moves ahead of Kulhavy. Absalon and Fontana are not far behind. Where are the others?
SG: Great Britain's Olympian Oli Beckingsale goes by and there is Sam Schultz (US) and Max Plaxton (Can)
Kulhavy has now nearly caught Schurter again.
SG: Jeremy Horgan Kobelski, husband of Heather Irmiger and Mike Broderick, husband of Mary McConneloug just rode by.
SG: Crowd favorite Carl Decker gets lots of cheers. Many ring cowbells as they pass.
Schurter and Kulhavy alone in the lead.
The finish line again. Schurter is one second ahead of Kulhavy, with Hermida third and Stander fourth at 7 seconds.
Naef was fifth and Absalon sixth at 38 seconds.
Hermida promptly moved into the lead after the finish line.
SG: Absalon & Marco Fontana both stop in the tech zone and lose places. Geoff Kabush gets a glasses handoff like many riders. Rain and sun at same time!
Stander has now nearly caught Kulhavy, so we could have a leading group of four.
Naef has dropped back.
It looks like Schurter and Kulhavy are in the lead again. And we have lots of sunshine now!
WE don't have the oversight on this race which we would like....
Schurter and Kulhavy with a gap over Hermida.
Then there is a long gap .......
Wait -- that's not Schurter! It's Burry Stander in front with Kulhavy!
Schurter had fallen back for some unknown (to us) reason. He is now together with Absalon and Naef.
SG: Veteran pro racer Hermida - the only time he's not smiling or joking is when he's concentrating this hard.
Schurter goes down the rocks with full risk. He is trying all to get back up to the front.
Stander has pulled ahead of Kulhavy. They are now plugging their way up the muddly hairpins.
Stander and Kulhavy have a nice lead now.
Schurter just ahead of Absalon.
three laps to go. Stander leads the way with Kulhavy at one second and Hermida at nine seconds.
Absalon is fourth and Schurter is fifth, both at 35 seconds. Naef sixth at 49 seconds.
Stander won the U23 Worlds title last year.
SG: Great Britain's top racer is Liam Killeen and Canada's Geoff Kabush race by together.
The three leaders all fairly close.
SG: It's an exciting race with many leaders so far. It's been very competitive!
We hear that it has gotten pretty warm out there in the sun, with high humidity. Lovely!
The three leaders are still together with two and a half laps to go.
How did things end up last year in the Worlds race in Canberra, Australia?
1 Nino Schurter (Switzerland) 2:04:39
2 Julien Absalon (France) 0:00:03
3 Florian Vogel (Switzerland) 0:00:58
4 José Antonio Hermida Ramos (Spain)
5 Geoff Kabush (Canada) 0:02:04
6 Cédric Ravanel (France) 0:02:35
7 Jean-Christophe Peraud (France) 0:02:59
8 Todd Wells (United States of America) 0:03:06
9 Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech Republic) 0:03:22
10 Christoph Sauser (Switzerland) 0:03:45
Kulhavy drops back slightly.
Schurter is clawing way back up. He's 4th at 31 seconds, with Absalon at 41 seconds.
Last year was a sprint finish and a major upset in that the young (first year elite) Nino Schurter (Switzerland) stayed with and then outsprinted
Julien Absalon (France).
Hermida moves into the lead. Stander is right behind him, with Kulhavy a bit back. Schurter is fighting his way up, as is Absalon.
No, Absalon is actually further back than we thought. Naef is not so far behind him now.
Hermida, Stander, Kulhavy -- the same three are at the front.
Lots of shadows here, so the track isn't drying out.
Schurter is moving closer and closer to the leading trio, as Abaslon falls further back.
Hermida moves ahead of the other two as they go up the hairpins.
Hermida was U23 world champ in 2000, and later won a team World title. Now he would like to add this title to that collection.
SG: Killeen in 8th. Kabush 9th. They keep getting stronger.
Moritz Milatz grabs a tree to help him in Uphill rock garden
Hermida pulls away at the finish line. He is first, Stander second at eight seconds and Kulhavy at nine seconds. Two laps to go.
Schurter fourth at 36 seconds. Can he make that up?
It looks like Hermida is pulling away.
Abasalon is another 30 seconds back. Almost impossible to make up one whole minute on this course.
Hermida has about 10 seconds on Kulhavy, with Stander about another five seconds back.
The first three seem determined to get away from Schurter and give him no chance, and Hermida seems to see his chance of a victory.
Here's how the guys finished the 2010 season:
Final 2010 World Cup standings Elite men
1 Nino Schurter (Swi) Scott-Swisspower MTB Racing 1136 pts
2 Julien Absalon (Fra) Orbea 1040
3 Jaroslav Kulhavy (Cze) Rubena - Birell - Specialized Cycling Team 1040
4 Florian Vogel (Swi) Scott-Swisspower MTB Racing 795
5 José Antonio Hermida Ramos (Spa) Multivan Merida Biking Team 795
6 Mathias Flückiger* (Swi) Trek World Racing 710
7 Christoph Sauser (Swi) Specialized Factory Racing 590
8 Manuel Fumic (Ger) Cannondale Factory Racing 570
9 Burry Stander (RSA) Specialized Factory Racing 567
10 Ruben Ruzafa Cueto (Spa) Orbea 494
Hermida and Kulhavy pretty much together now.
SG: Stander pedalling big gear compared to others
There is now a significant gap back to Stander.
But now Stander is catching up again.
A very significant gap back to Schurter. Absalon not yet in sight.
I asked Sue George which of our two leaders she would pick to take the win. "Tough question. Both won world cups this year. Kulhavy, just cause he's on a roll."
Hermida looks back on the hairpin curve to see Kulhavy not far beind him. Stander is back a bit, and Schurter still further back. He doesn't seem to have moved up much.
They three leaders are flying along now.
Going into the bell lap, it is Hermida again. Kulhavy second at three seconds.
Stander has fallen back to 22 seconds, and Schurter is fourth at 51 seconds.
It looks like we have our podium! Will Hermida be able to stay away and hold on to his lead? He has already pulled even further away.
They charge uphill with no changes.
Schurter is doggedly doing all he can to catch Stander, really going all out.
Hermida powers his way along on a flat section.
We hear that Hermida grew a mustache especially for today!
SG: Hermida opened gap to 15 sec and looks awesome. Kulhavy looks tired. half a lap to go.
SG: Stander a steady 3rd. Schurter not gaining time on bronze
Hermida continues to pull away from Kulhavy.
Stander still has hopes of second, but it looks doubtful.
SG: Absalon gets tons of cheers as he rides by in fifth. It might be the French speaking connections and he's won here in the past.
Hermida goes down the rocks for the last time. Only one more climb for him.
Also Kulhavy successfully negotiates the descent.
Now it is Stander's turn.
SG: Barring disaster hermida should have it.
Kulhavy is two hairpins behind Hermida.
Absalon only now descending, as fifth.
Hermida works the transition from the climb. Now he just has to concentrate on the descent and not think of the title.
Kulhavy files down the descent.
Hermida crosses the finish line on foot, carrying his bike over the line. He's doing some major rejoicing, and it looks like there are some tears.
Kulhavy taks second 29 seconds later, and gives the winner a hug.
Stander proudly points to the South Africa on his chest as he finishes third, at 1:10. That is the first medal ever for an African in the men's elite race.
Schurter now makes his way over the line and pounds his handlebars in frustration, at 2:03. Absalon is fifth at 2:23.
Congratulations to an emotional Hermida and his two companions on the podium. And, of course, to all the riders today.
Thanks for reading along with us!