UCI Mountain Bike World Championships 2011

August 31 - September 4, 2011, Champéry, Switzerland, Mountain Bike - CM

Complete Live Report

Live commentary by:
Sue George

Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the elite men's cross country race at the UCI mountain bike championships in Champery, Switzerland. The race starts at 4:30 pm local time. We'll be bringing you updates from alongside the course.

  1. 16:24:45 CEST

    We just saw an amazing battle in the elite women's cross country battle and are here to bring you coverage of the elite men's race starting in less than 10 minutes.  Catharine Pendrel (Canada) is the new elite women's cross country World Champion. Defending champ Maja Wloszczowska (Poland) put up a great fight but with a flat tire, luck was not on her side today.

  2. 16:25:17 CEST

    It's cloudier for the men's race than it was for the women's race.  That means it will be quite dark in some of the deep, wooded sections.

  3. 16:26:24 CEST

    There are 111 elite men taking the start this afternoon.  Jose Antonio Hermida (Spain) goes into the race as defending World Champion.  He won last year in Mont-Sainte-Anne

  4. 16:27:20 CEST

    Some favorites to watch are Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech), who is the World Cup overall winner, and multi-time past world champion Julien Absalon (France).  The crowd is going wild as these guys are introduced.

  5. 16:27:55 CEST

    Don't count out Nino Schurter (Switzerland), another former world champion who will undoubtedly get the biggest cheers out there today while racing on home soil.

  6. 16:29:30 CEST

    Other medal contenders include Burry Stander (South Africa), Florian Vogel (Switzerland), Maxime Marotte (France), Marco Aurelio Fontana (Italy) and Christoph Sauser (Switzerland).

  7. 16:30:07 CEST

    They are off for a start lap and seven full laps.

  8. 16:31:47 CEST

    Kulhavy leads them out

  9. 16:33:27 CEST

    Some have said this race is Kulhavy's race to lose.  He has dominated the World Cup circuit all season winning a record five of seven events.

  10. 16:36:04 CEST

    They are nearing the end of the start lap.

  11. 16:37:19 CEST

    Going across the line with seven to go it's Schurter, Kulhavy, Vogel, Absalon, Hermida and Marotte in that order.

  12. 16:38:18 CEST

    The favorites are looking around at each other a bit on this short, flat paved section - seeing who is where and who might be missing.

  13. 16:39:53 CEST

    At the front, Kulhavy, leads Schurter adn Vogel.  Looks like all the guys just mentioned are forming a sort of peloton together at the front.  Making this selection is key.

  14. 16:40:14 CEST

    Kulhavy is first through the Hell's Gate A-line.  Of course all the top men take that line.

  15. 16:40:39 CEST

    At the front, Kulhavy, leads Schurter adn Vogel.  Looks like all the guys just mentioned are forming a sort of peloton together at the front.  Making this selection is key.

  16. 16:41:15 CEST

    It's strange to see Hermida in Spanish colors and not in the rainbow stripes he has been wearing for the past year.

  17. 16:42:11 CEST

    The pace on this first lap is absolutely blistering.  The leaders are flying.  Kulhavy is driving the pace at the front.

  18. 16:43:28 CEST

    Everyone wants the wheel of the Czech rider and we've all seen what happens when you let him get away so no one wants to do that.

  19. 16:43:56 CEST

    National champion Todd Wells (United States) rides by.

  20. 16:44:29 CEST

    Former world champion (2008) Christoph Sauser is in 26.  Wells is in 33rd..  Jeremy Horgan Kobelski (United States)  is in 39th.

  21. 16:44:59 CEST

    At the first time split, Kulhavy led Schurter, Absalon, Vogel, Marotte and Hermida.  All were within about four seconds of each other.

  22. 16:45:46 CEST

    Absalon just took a high speed digger on a rooty descent.  He landed several meters in front of his bike but got back on as fast as he could.

  23. 16:46:17 CEST

    Kulhavy and Schurter have a gap and are together at the front through the feed zone.

  24. 16:46:46 CEST

    Absalon's crash certainly helped them open that.  Let's see if they can capitalize on it.

  25. 16:47:27 CEST

    Crowds are lining both sides of the main climb as they go up it.  Everyone is still close enough to see everyone else among the top 20-30 riders.

  26. 16:48:21 CEST

    Schurter rounds the U-turn at the top of the climb and heads into the Snake Pit first, just ahead of Kulhavy.

  27. 16:50:55 CEST

    Schurter leads Kulhavy through the start finish.  Seven laps to go.  They have an 11-second lead on a chase group.

  28. 16:52:25 CEST

    The chase group includes Vogel, Absalon, Marotte and Hermida.  They are taking drinks on the road section and getting ready for more roots and rocks.

  29. 16:53:47 CEST

    Correction on what we said earlier.  When they went through the start/finish, they were completing lap 1.  Which means 6 laps to go, not 7.

  30. 16:54:48 CEST

    Schurter is setting the pace through the roots.  That strategy could help keep Kulhavy in check.

  31. 16:55:41 CEST

    Sam Schultz and Todd Wells are the top Americans after the end of the first lap in 29th and 30th.  JHK is just a few more places back.

  32. 16:56:24 CEST

    Max Plaxton is the top Canadian in 23rd.

  33. 16:58:22 CEST

    At the split, Schurter is just in front of Kulhavy.  Vogel, Marotte, Absalon and Hermida chase.  A bit further back at 54 seconds, Stander charges onward.  The South African seems to be working his way up.

  34. 17:00:03 CEST

    They are nearly 30 minutes into the race and it's still wide open as to who will emerge the strongest.

  35. 17:01:01 CEST

    The lead group hits the climb on the second full lap.  It includes Schurter, Vogel, Absalon, Kulhavy, Marotte and Hermida.

  36. 17:01:37 CEST

    Schurter and Vogel lead Kulhavy on the climb.  The Czech rider had better be careful in case the two Swiss riders apply some tactics going into the Snake singletrack section after the climb.

  37. 17:02:44 CEST

    Defending champion Hermida has been spending the most time hanging on near the back of the lead group.  He is tenaciously keeping contact with the other favorites.

  38. 17:04:30 CEST

    Schurter is charging through the start/finish in the lead, but his fellow top contenders are all within six seconds.  2 full laps down, 5 to go.

  39. 17:05:38 CEST

    Stander is in no man's land chasing after them.  He's at 50 seconds.  That will be a tough gap to close, but he has been known to recover well from tough starts.

  40. 17:08:12 CEST

    Vogel and Schurter are at the front together now with a one-second gap on Kulhavy.  They are in a wooded, technical section.  Hermida chases Kulhavy, then it's Absalon and Marotte.

  41. 17:09:13 CEST

    Stander goes down on some roots.  It's so easy to make mistakes out there - it's super technical and a bit slick.

  42. 17:09:58 CEST

    Kulhavy has inserted himself back in the Swiss sandwich.  That's smart as it makes it a little tougher for them to work him over.

  43. 17:12:54 CEST

    Our six leaders are still together.  Stander chases at 44 seconds.  Then Lukas Flueckiger (Switzerland) and Manuel Fumic (Germany) are at 1:13.  Sauser is up to 10th place.

  44. 17:13:30 CEST

    And it starts to rain!  That is going to make thing extremely interesting.

  45. 17:14:12 CEST

    We saw in the junior men's race earlier this week how crazy it is out there when the course is wet.  They were falling all over the place.

  46. 17:14:55 CEST

    Marotte has come off the lead group, leaving five men to tackle the main climb.

  47. 17:15:56 CEST

    This climb is stretching them out a bit.  Into the Snake section they go.

  48. 17:16:19 CEST

    It's absolutely dumping now

  49. 17:17:30 CEST

    The leaders are approaching the start finish. 

  50. 17:19:16 CEST

    It's all coming apart now.   Schurter leads Kulhavy through the start finish.  Hermida is 1 second back and Absalon is at 4 seconds.  Vogel has come off and is at 19 seconds while Marotte is at 20 seconds.  Stander chases at 1:06.

  51. 17:19:58 CEST

    Looks like Absalon is falling off the pace too.  Schurter, Kulhavy and Hermida are together at the front.

  52. 17:21:08 CEST

    Lukas Flueckiger is in the pits.

  53. 17:21:38 CEST

    Looks like the Swiss rider needs a new rear wheel and the change is not happening super fast. It may cost him a few places.

  54. 17:22:55 CEST

    Manuel Fumic pedals past. He is on his own through the woods.

  55. 17:23:51 CEST

    It's Schurter, Kulhavy and Hermida still at the front together.  Hermida is the defending world champion.  Schurter was world champion two years ago and Kulhavy has never been a world champion.

  56. 17:24:44 CEST

    We see Kulhavy slip on a root and have to dab his foot.

  57. 17:25:26 CEST

    After the 3 leaders Absalon chases at 11 seconds.  Vogel is at 51 seconds and Marotte is at 55 seconds.

  58. 17:26:26 CEST

    Fumic is riding in seventh and Sauser is eighth.

  59. 17:28:39 CEST

    The three leaders, Kulhavy, Schurter and Hermida ride through the tech zone while on lap 5.  They recently saw 3 to go.

  60. 17:29:13 CEST

    Absalon has the leaders in his sights on the climb.  All three leaders are out of the saddle.

  61. 17:29:32 CEST

    Schurter goes into the Snake first ahead of Kulhavy, then Hermida.

  62. 17:30:09 CEST

    Hermida has to dab after Kulhavy and he try to occupy the same line at the same time.  It's Schurter at the front opening up a gap on those two through this downhill technical section.

  63. 17:30:37 CEST

    This could be a decisive moment.  We'll see if Kulhavy can power through the pain to close the gap back down.

  64. 17:32:19 CEST

    Schurter is pedalling strongly through the start finish.  He has five seconds on Kulhavy and 8 seconds on Hermida.  Absalon is at 18 seconds.

  65. 17:32:54 CEST

    There are still a ton of fans out there watching despite the rain.

  66. 17:33:50 CEST

    Vogel is in fifth at 1:28.  He is likely out of the race as far as medals go, but anything can happen, especially now that it is raining and everything is so slick.

  67. 17:35:12 CEST

    6th - 9th are Marotte, Fumic, Lukas Flueckiger and Sauser.  The latter is the world marathon champion for 2011.

  68. 17:35:50 CEST

    It looks like Schurter and Kulhavy have gotten ride of Hermida.  Well may be not... he's still hanging in there, just a few seconds behind them.

  69. 17:37:05 CEST

    Given how much time Schurter is spending at the front compared to Kulhavy, he may be feeling better.  It can be an advantage to set the pace from the front plus he will be clear of any mistakes Kulhavy might make

  70. 17:37:31 CEST

    Fumic is looking pretty dirty.  He has taken a few tumbles.

  71. 17:38:43 CEST

    The rubber band is stretching between Schurter and Kulhavy and Hermida.  The Spaniard is now 8 seconds off them.

  72. 17:39:11 CEST

    It doesn't sound like a lot, but it's a big gap psychologically on a course like this in the rain.

  73. 17:40:25 CEST

    Absalon is at 20 seconds, riding in fourth place ahead of Vogel in fifth place.  Both of those riders are on their own.

  74. 17:41:40 CEST

    It's still Schurter setting the pace at the front, with Kulhavy glued to his wheel.  Absalon will be getting splits and know that Hermida has come off them, so he will see the chance to get that last medal.

  75. 17:42:09 CEST

    Hermida points to his wheel as he gets to the tech zone.  New rear wheel for the Spaniard.

  76. 17:42:34 CEST

    Hermida is back under way with a new wheel but not until after Absalon passes him.

  77. 17:43:56 CEST

    So it may be that Hermida's coming off the two leaders was due to his flat, not to him being more tired than them. That has to be a disappointment for the defending world champion.  We saw the same thing happen in the women's race when defending World Champ Maja W. got a flat and lost her place with leader Catharine Pendrel.

  78. 17:44:23 CEST

    Vogel tosses his glasses in the tech zone.  It's turning into that kind of a race.

  79. 17:45:01 CEST

    Schurter is looking stronger in the woods.  He keeps getting little gaps on Kulhavy, but the powerful Czech keeps closing them.

  80. 17:47:12 CEST

    Both Schurter and Kulhavy come through the start finish together.  Should be two laps to go.  They call a momentary truce and both take a drink and eat something.

  81. 17:47:39 CEST

    Absalon comes through in third at 25 seconds.  He has lost a little ground.  Following his flat, Hermida dropped to fourth at 45 seconds.

  82. 17:49:11 CEST

    Vogel is fifth at 2:25.  That gives Switzerland two men in the top five.  Well, let's make that three in the top six as Flueckiger is in 6th place.  Fumic is seventh.

  83. 17:49:40 CEST

    Kulhavy puts in a dig and gets to the top of the Hell's Gate climb first and then is first through the drop.

  84. 17:50:05 CEST

    Maybe Kulhavy has been bluffing and letting Schurter be up front and think he's the one who is feeling better?

  85. 17:50:28 CEST

    Schurter was able to answer Kulhavy and is sitting right on him.

  86. 17:51:20 CEST

    It is raining torrentially at the moment.  It has to be so slick out there, but it's amazing to watch these guys ride like it's not that slippery.

  87. 17:52:17 CEST

    Vogel flies over the jump.  Appropriate as his name often gets auto-translated by mistake as "the Bird"

  88. 17:52:45 CEST

    Kulhavy has an 8-second gap on Schurter!

  89. 17:53:06 CEST

    Absalon is third at 34 seconds.

  90. 17:53:37 CEST

    The Czech World Cup champion seems to be riding away from Schurter.

  91. 17:54:09 CEST

    Kulhavy is looking good, out of the saddle when it is appropriate and pushing the pace.

  92. 17:54:29 CEST

    Flueckiger and Marotte run a rooty downhill section.

  93. 17:55:29 CEST

    Schurter's body language looks more tired. 

  94. 17:56:43 CEST

    Kulhavy races through the tech zone and into the bottom of the main climb.  Schurter comes through a bit after and it looks like Kulhavy is blowing open the gap between them on this climb.

  95. 17:59:30 CEST

    The riders are taking the technical sections in the later part of the lap.  Kulhavy is closing in on the start finish.

  96. 18:00:09 CEST

    One lap to go for Kulhavy.  He rolls through the finish at 1:30:01.  Let's see how far back Schurter is.

  97. 18:01:25 CEST

    Schurter came through in second place and Absalon is in third.

  98. 18:02:01 CEST

    Kulhavy turns on a long road straightaway and Schurter is nowhere in sight behind him.  Further back Hermida rolls through in fourth place and Vogel is in fifth.

  99. 18:02:56 CEST

    It's looking good for Kulhavy to add the 2011 world title to his 2011 World Cup title.  Now he's got to stay out of trouble for the duration of this last lap.  That will require some concentration as it's starting to look soupy out there on the dirt sections.

  100. 18:03:31 CEST

    Kulhavy nails the A line on Hell's Gate. He'll want to ride strong enough to keep his lead, but a bit conservatively so as not to make any race-ending mistakes.

  101. 18:04:25 CEST

    Schurter takes the A line.  All of these guys look like they are rolling it more than jumping it.  Now is not the time for showing off and you can tell they are tired by watching them at this point in the race.

  102. 18:05:17 CEST

    The top five men, Kulhavy, Schurter, Absalon, Hermida and Vogel are each on their own now at various points on the last lap.

  103. 18:07:23 CEST

    Kulhavy is on a full suspension 29er.  He has been the first of the top men on the World Cup circuit to fully embrace the larger wheel size.  People seem to be paying more attention to the 29ers now in the European cycling community - maybe it's in part due to Kulhavy bring more attention to them, especially the full suspension versions.

  104. 18:08:16 CEST

    At the final split point on the last lap, Kulhavy leads Schurter by 40 seconds.  Absalon is at 1:10.  Barring the unexpected, it looks like these will be our three medal winners today.

  105. 18:08:40 CEST

    The gaps are really opening up.  Hermida rolls through in fourth.

  106. 18:11:15 CEST

    Kulhavy is on the final climb.  Behind him the other riders are pacing themselves and taking onboard more fluid for the last lap.  Kulhavy is out of the saddle and grinding up this climb.  He takes a look behind... coast is clear.

  107. 18:11:53 CEST

    Kulhavy enters the Snake section for the last time.  He is filthy and so is his bike.

  108. 18:12:27 CEST

    Schurter is on the last climb now.  The two top riders will effectively pass each other as one goes down and one goes up so they will know well what the gap is.

  109. 18:12:57 CEST

    Schurter heads into the Snake section while Absalon is on the final climb.

  110. 18:13:31 CEST

    After the women's race, new world champion Catharine Pendrel described that final climb as "the hardest climb of her life".

  111. 18:14:36 CEST

    Kulhavy comes to the finish as the new world champion!  He raises the Czech flag and celebrates.

  112. 18:15:18 CEST

    Kulhavy's time was 1:44:30.  Schurter comes in with a Swiss flag for second place at 0:47.

  113. 18:15:56 CEST

    Absalon gets third at 1:26.


  114. 18:40:12 CEST

    Hermida rode into fourth place and Lukas Flueckiger rode into fifth place.

  115. 18:40:55 CEST

    So we are left with two brand new world champions for 2011: Catharine Pendrel and Jaroslav Kulhavy.  Thanks for joining us - that wraps up our live coverage from Worlds.

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