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