For the second year in a row, the two top male mountain bikers in the world, Swiss rider Nino Schurter and Frenchman Julien Absalon, were neck-and-neck in the battle for the 2014 Cyclingnews Reader Poll's Best Mountain Bike Rider. This year it was Absalon who ranked the highest, receiving 34 per cent of the fans' votes.
After last year's remarkably consistent performances on the world stage, it was no surprise to see him climbing back onto the top step on the podium at the most important races this season. The most notable performance was his comeback victory at the World Championships in Hafjell after suffering with broken ribs during last year’s event and placing sixth on the day. It was also his first world title in seven years.
Absalon also won three World Cup rounds this season in Albstadt, Cairns and Pietermaritzburg, and the overall UCI Mountain Bike World Cup series, the European Continental Championships and his 12th French National Championships title.
Absalon is no stranger to winning, having had a very successful career. He has secured Olympic gold medals in the cross country events in 2004 in Athens and 2008 in Beijing. He is a five-time World Champion, a six-time winner of the overall UCI Mountain Bike World Cup series and he has won 29 World Cup races during his career.
After winning last year's Cyclingnews Reader Poll, Schurter took second place this year with 24.99 per cent of the votes. Although he placed second at Worlds to Absalon, he also had a successful season on the world-class stage with wins at four of the World Cups in Méribel, Windham, Mon-Sainte-Anne and Nové Mesto na Morave.
Great Britain's Rachel Atherton was ranked third with 17.22 per cent of the readers' votes for her continued success in the downhill discipline. Canada's Catharine Pendral, who won her second world title this year, took fourth place with 11.99 per cent of the votes, and Great Britain's downhill rider Josh Bryceland was fifth with 11.82 per cent of the votes.