Schurter upsets Absalon for first elite world title

Tactical battle comes down to final meters

It took a team effort, but the Swiss duo of Nino Schurter and Florian Vogel were able to crack the puzzle of how to beat France's Julien Absalon.

Schurter, the Olympic bronze medalist and last year's Under 23 World Champion won the elite men's world title in Canberra, Australia. He finished three seconds ahead of Olympic champion Absalon.

"It's an amazing feeling," said Schurter. "It was the perfect race for me, the perfect course – really technical which is what I like – and I had a great day today. It's an amazing feeling after being the Under 23 World Champion and then straight to the elite World Champion. It's a dream has come true for me."

Vogel out-sprinted Jose Antonio Hermida Ramos of Spain for the bronze medal, 58 seconds behind Schurter., Canada's Geoff Kabush came back from a flat tire to take fifth.

The headwind in the opening section of the lap meant that it was much better to be in a group than on your own, as Kabush discovered.

"I had a slow leak in my tyre," said Kabush, "so I had to stop in the pits for a quick wheel change [on lap three], which lost me a few seconds. On this course, with the long climb into the head wind, it meant that I just couldn't catch back onto the front group."

At the start of lap two a sizable group had formed at the lead – Absalon, Schurter, Vogel, Hermida, Kabush, Jean-Christophe Peraud (France), Cedric Ravanel (France), Marco Fontana (Italy), Stephane Tempier (France), Sven Nys (Belgium), Emil Lindgren (Sweden), Daniel McConnell (Australia), Lukas Fluckiger (Switzerland) and Roel Paulissen (Belgium).

By the start of lap three, the group had thinned considerably, down to Absalon, Schurter, Vogel, Kabush, Hermida, Fontana and Lindgren. It came apart completely on lap three, when Kabush had his mechanical troubles. The lead group dropped to four: Schurter, Absalon, Vogel and Hermida. Hermida had his own issues on the same lap, when his chain jammed, but was able to chase back up.

The front five were set for the rest of the race, but there was still almost half the race to go. The Swiss began to use their numerical superiority to break things up.

Schurter and Absalon began attacking, and dropped Hermida and Vogel on lap five. With the wind, both pairs of riders stayed together for the rest of the race. At the front, Schurter and Absalon both launched attacks in the final lap, but neither could shake the other until a tremendous effort by Schurter in the final feed zone gained him a couple of seconds. The move came just before the last single track run in to the finish, with nowhere to pass, and Schurter was able to hold his gap to the line.

"I was never thinking that I could take the win until the last feed zone when I attacked there and saw that I had a small gap of ten metres. From there I was flying down into the finish," said Schurter.

Vogel and Hermida were even tighter, coming down to a sprint that Vogel led out from the final turn.

"Florian Vogel was in third position which was a good tactic for the Swiss guys," said Absalon. "I was in front and I did most of the race in front, but it is not often like this in a mountain bike race. This track was really fast and it was not possible to go alone because of the wind, and it was technical.

"Nino did a really good attack and it was a little bit bumpy.  I made a mistake with my chain, and I lost five metres and then it was finished for me."

Schurter's teammate Vogel made a tactical decision to let Absalon and Schurter go, and conserve his energy for third. "I was actually in a pretty good position for both Nino and myself. In the end, I realised that José had done a lot of work and he really tried to catch up to Nino and Julien and he wasted a lot of energy."

America's top finisher was Todd Wells in eighth place.

Results
1Nino Schurter (Switzerland)2:04:39 
2Julien Absalon (France)0:00:03 
3Florian Vogel (Switzerland)0:00:58 
4José Antonio Hermida Ramos (Spain)  
5Geoff Kabush (Canada)0:02:04 
6Cédric Ravanel (France)0:02:35 
7Jean-Christophe Peraud (France)0:02:59 
8Todd Wells (United States of America)0:03:06 
9Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech Republic)0:03:22 
10Christoph Sauser (Switzerland)0:03:45 
11Marco Aurelio Fontana (Italy)0:03:56 
12Stéphane Tempier (France)0:04:09 
13Martin Gujan (Switzerland)0:04:24 
14Sven Nys (Belgium)0:04:30 
15Chris Jongewaard (Australia)0:04:35 
16Roel Paulissen (Belgium)0:04:44 
17Emil Lindgren (Sweden)0:04:51 
18Adam Craig (United States of America)0:05:03 
19Filip Meirhaeghe (Belgium)0:05:16 
20Inaki Lejarreta Errasti (Spain)0:05:22 
21Ruben Ruzafa Cueto (Spain)0:05:23 
22Max Plaxton (Canada)0:06:07 
23Moritz Milatz (Germany)0:06:36 
24Carlos Coloma Nicolas (Spain)0:06:45 
25Milan Spesny (Czech Republic)0:06:53 
26Jelmer Pietersma (Netherlands)0:06:58 
27Tony Longo (Italy)0:07:08 
28Sergio Mantecon Gutierrez (Spain)0:07:28 
29Samuel Schultz (United States of America)0:07:31 
30Rudi Van Houts (Netherlands)0:07:32 
31Rubens Valeriano (Brazil)0:07:48 
32Daniel Mcconnell (Australia)0:08:19 
33Karl Markt (Austria)0:08:30 
34Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (United States of America)0:09:01 
35Ben Henderson (Australia)0:09:16 
36Jan Skarnitzl (Czech Republic)0:10:31 
37Derek Zandstra (Canada)0:10:46 
38Manuel Fumic (Germany)0:11:00 
39Sid Taberlay (Australia)0:11:01 
40Michal Lami (Slovakia)0:11:07 
41Liam Killeen (Great Britain)0:11:16 
42Seamus Mcgrath (Canada)0:11:37 
43Lukas Flückiger (Switzerland)0:11:48 
44Maxim Gogolev (Russian Federation)0:11:52 
45Anton Gogolev (Russian Federation)0:12:07 
46Kohei Yamamoto (Japan)0:12:14 
47Jianhua Ji (People's Republic Of China)0:12:36 
48Bjorn Brems (Belgium)0:12:41 
49Hannes Metzler (Austria)0:13:09 
50Pavel Boudny (Czech Republic)0:13:18 
51Marc Bassingthwaighte (Namibia)0:13:29 
52Fabio Hernando Castaneda Monsalve (Colombia)0:13:50 
53Edivando De Souza Cruz (Brazil)0:13:52 
54Carl Decker (United States of America)0:14:27 
55Dylan Cooper (Australia)0:14:53 
56Periklis Ilias (Greece)0:16:46 
57Stuart Houltham (New Zealand)0:16:51 
58Ivan Seledkov (Russian Federation)0:17:09 
59Cristobal Silva Ibaceta (Chile)-1 lap 
60Ricardo Pscheidt (Brazil)-1 lap 
61Andrew Blair (Australia)-1 lap 
62Keiichi Tsujiura (Japan)-2 laps 
63Shufeng Zhang (People's Republic Of China)-2 laps 
64Kirill Kazantsev (Kazakhstan)-3 laps 
65Michael Broderick (United States of America)-3 laps 
66Alban Lakata (Austria)-5 laps 
67Ken Onodera (Japan)-5 laps 
68Marios Athanasiadis (Cyprus)-6 laps 
DNFBas Peters (Netherlands)  
DNFEvgeniy Pechenin (Russian Federation)  
DNFJohnny Cattaneo (Italy)  
DNFBrendon Sharratt (New Zealand)  
DNFKlaus Nielsen (Denmark)  
DNFMichael Northcott (New-Zealand)  
DNFMarcin Karczynski (Poland)  

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