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Kulhavy wins men's Olympic mountain bike gold

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Swiss team staff console Nino Schurter after missing out on the gold medal

Swiss team staff console Nino Schurter after missing out on the gold medal
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Florian Vogel (Switzerland) feels the heat on his way to a 25th place

Florian Vogel (Switzerland) feels the heat on his way to a 25th place
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Stephane Tempier (France) missed out on a top-ten by 2 seconds

Stephane Tempier (France) missed out on a top-ten by 2 seconds
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Chris Boardman turned up to watch the men's Olympic race

Chris Boardman turned up to watch the men's Olympic race
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Olympic winner Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech Republic) won a tight sprint to capture the gold medal

Olympic winner Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech Republic) won a tight sprint to capture the gold medal
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Adrien Niyonshuti (Rwanda)

Adrien Niyonshuti (Rwanda)
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech Republic) takes the 2012 Olympic gold medal ahead of Nino Schurter (Switzerland)

Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech Republic) takes the 2012 Olympic gold medal ahead of Nino Schurter (Switzerland)
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech Republic) shows off his gold medal.

Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech Republic) shows off his gold medal.
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Elite men's Olympic mountain bike podium: Nino Schurter (Switzerland), Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech) and Marco Fontana (Italy)

Elite men's Olympic mountain bike podium: Nino Schurter (Switzerland), Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech) and Marco Fontana (Italy)
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech) leads Nino Schurter (Swizterland) toward the finish)

Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech) leads Nino Schurter (Swizterland) toward the finish)
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech) catches air out on course on his way to victory

Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech) catches air out on course on his way to victory
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Nino Schurter (Swizterland) leads Marco Fontana (Italy)

Nino Schurter (Swizterland) leads Marco Fontana (Italy)
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Todd Wells (United States) put in the best-ever American Olympic men's mountain bike race finish

Todd Wells (United States) put in the best-ever American Olympic men's mountain bike race finish
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Burry Stander (South Africa) on his way to a top-5 ride

Burry Stander (South Africa) on his way to a top-5 ride
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Burry Stander (South Africa) leads Jose Antonio Hermida (Spain)

Burry Stander (South Africa) leads Jose Antonio Hermida (Spain)
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Nino Schurter (Switzerland), Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech) and Marco Fontana (Italy) were the three fastest men today.

Nino Schurter (Switzerland), Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech) and Marco Fontana (Italy) were the three fastest men today.
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Nino Schurter (Switzerland) flies over some rocks

Nino Schurter (Switzerland) flies over some rocks
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Sergio Mantecon Gutierrez (Spain) was his country's third-best finisher coming across the line in 22nd

Sergio Mantecon Gutierrez (Spain) was his country's third-best finisher coming across the line in 22nd
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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The always expressive Marco Aurelio Fontana (Italy)

The always expressive Marco Aurelio Fontana (Italy)
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Sam Schultz (USA) was pleased with his 15th-place result in London

Sam Schultz (USA) was pleased with his 15th-place result in London
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Medal contender Julien Absalon (France) suffered an early race puncture and pulled out of the race

Medal contender Julien Absalon (France) suffered an early race puncture and pulled out of the race
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Manuel Fumic (Germany) came in seventh spot

Manuel Fumic (Germany) came in seventh spot
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Rudi van Houts (Netherlands) looking good during the men's Olympic XC race

Rudi van Houts (Netherlands) looking good during the men's Olympic XC race
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Ralph Näef (Switzerland) rode into the top-twenty

Ralph Näef (Switzerland) rode into the top-twenty
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Sven Nys (Belgium) did not have an enjoyable day and withdrew from the race entering the final lap

Sven Nys (Belgium) did not have an enjoyable day and withdrew from the race entering the final lap
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Gerhard Kerschbaumer (Italy)

Gerhard Kerschbaumer (Italy)
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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The start of the men's Olympic mountain bike race

The start of the men's Olympic mountain bike race
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Jean-Christophe Peraud (France) rides the man-made rock wall

Jean-Christophe Peraud (France) rides the man-made rock wall
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech) outsprints Nino Schurter (Swizterland) in an exciting sprint finish

Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech) outsprints Nino Schurter (Swizterland) in an exciting sprint finish
(Image credit: AFP)
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Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech) wins the sprint finish ahead of Nino Schurter (Switzerland)

Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech) wins the sprint finish ahead of Nino Schurter (Switzerland)
(Image credit: AFP)
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Mountain bike gold medallist Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech) on the podium

Mountain bike gold medallist Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech) on the podium
(Image credit: AFP)
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Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech) flies through a technical section

Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech) flies through a technical section
(Image credit: AFP)
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Nino Schurter (Switzerland) speeds through a rock garden

Nino Schurter (Switzerland) speeds through a rock garden
(Image credit: AFP)
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The start of the Olympic men's mountain bike race

The start of the Olympic men's mountain bike race
(Image credit: AFP)

Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech Republic), the man who dominated mountain biking in 2011, won gold at the London Olympic Games, beating Nino Schurter of Switzerland into silver at Hadleigh Farm, Essex in a thrilling sprint finish. Marco Aurelio Fontana (Italy) had to settle for bronze after snapping his seat post in the final lap of the men's race. Defending two-time champion, Julien Absalon (France) suffered a puncture and retired from the race.

"It was really hard, because we went full-gas the whole time. I was amazingly strong, I gave everything for this race. I put in all my energy and it's amazing. This race was important this year, nothing else. I won everything, world champs, world cups. Now I am Olympic champion," said Kulhavy.

As expected the race came down to a war of attrition, but it was the opening stages of the race that proved crucial.

Schurter and Florian Vogel (Switzerland) started the strongest, together as usual, whipping through the first bend and taking control on the opening loop. The Swiss tandem quickly had the field strung out, but their control was breached when Manuel Fumic (Germany), another notoriously fast starter, powered into second place behind Schurter.

However, on the first set of switchback climbs, the pressure intensified, and Kulhavy and Fontana moved into the first three with Vogel and then Fumic falling back, the latter crashing out but able to remount.

Schurter, Fontana and Kulhavy quickly established a lead, working well together as the began the first lap. However Absalon, the two-time defending Olympic champion, was already in trouble. Glancing down at his bike, he crossed the line in 27th place.

Jose Antonio Hermida (Spain) led a counter attack from the struggling bunch, the Spaniard sandwiched in between the leading trio and a group containing the rest of the pre-race favourites. At the top of the second climb of Snake Hill, Schurter and his two companions had a lead approaching 10 seconds. By now, Absalon was well out of the medals, struggling 1:19 down on the leaders and shortly after, he would quit the race. He wasn't the only rider forced out. Great Britain's only competitor Liam Killeen crashed out with a broken ankle. Absalon was at least able to pedal back to the start house to explain his poor luck to the waiting French media.

Schurter and Kulhavy swapped turns with Fontana, who was unable or unwilling to help, but at the start of the second lap, the gap had been consolidated with Hermida finding support from former U23 world champion Burry Stander (South Africa).

The chase pair soon made contact and Schurter was immediately aware of the danger, pushing the pace as the five riders started the third lap, with the chasers at 26 seconds.

Recovered from his efforts to bridge across, Stander accelerated through the Rock Garden. Schurter was the first to respond, but Hermida and Fontana were instantly put into difficulty. On the next climb, Schurter assumed control and on the technical terrain, it was Stander who was left struggling. The South African managed to regain contact and as they approached an hour of racing and the start of the fourth lap Stander accelerated again. This time it was Kulhavy who closed the gap, and the Czech rider's efforts slowly turned the screw on Hermida and then Stander, both beginning to show signs of weakness.

Kulhavy pushed on. Schurter and the plucky Fontana were slightly gapped at the start of the fifth lap. Behind Stander had completely blown, and Hermida, too, although they chased onward, just in case anything happened to the probable medallists up front.

The leading trio reformed on Snake Hill and for the first time in the race, Fontana set the pace. Until now, the Italian had been content to follow the wheels of the two top favorites. As they approached the feed, Schurter moved to the front, shackling Fontana's enthusiasm.

The bell rang for the final lap and a brief truce appeared between the leaders. It allowed Stander and Hermida to reduce the gap to 13 seconds. Fontana tried to put daylight between him and his companions before Snake Hill's final ascent, and the pressure put Kulhavy into the red for the first time in the race. Schurter led the Czech rider onto the Italian's wheel but Fontana wasn't finished, accelerating again before the final technical section.

Into the Rock Garden for the final time, Schurter led with Kulhavy in close quarters as Fontana suffered his mechanical.

On the final climb, Kulhavy attempted to drop Schurter but the Swiss rider was equal to the move. Schurter, who is known for his powerful finishing sprint, pushed his way to the front on the descent, knowing that if he led into the final 100 meters, he would have the best line for the sprint.

Kulhavy took the inside line and closed the door on his Swiss rival, taking the gold medal by less than a bike length. Fontana, able to hold off the chasing Hermida and Stander, took the bronze. Hermida was fourth by one second ahead of Stander in fifth.

"It was a great race. I performed to the maximum. Just at the end, Jaroslav was a bit stronger than me. It is hard to get second, but it was a great day. I have to be happy with silver. It was an awesome feeling to compete here," Schurter said.

Several North Americans put in strong rides, including Geoff Kabush (Canada) as the top finisher in eighth place. Todd Wells was the best American in 10th place.

Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech Republic)1:29:07
2Nino Schurter (Switzerland)0:00:01
3Marco Fontana (Italy)0:00:25
4Jose Antonio Ramos (Spain)0:00:29
5Burry Stander (South Africa)0:00:30
6Carlos Nicolas Coloma (Spain)0:01:00
7Manuel Fumic (Germany)0:01:24
8Geoff Kabush (Canada)0:01:36
9Alexander Gehbauer (Austria)0:02:09
10Todd Wells (USA)0:02:21
11Stephane Tempier (France)0:02:23
12Jan Skarnitzl (Czech Republic)0:02:41
13Gerhard Kerschbaumer (Italy)0:02:55
14Ondrej Cink (Czech Republic)0:03:09
15Samuel Schulz (USA)0:03:22
16Marek Konwa (Poland)0:03:34
17Rudi Van Houts (Netherlands)0:03:46
18Ralph Naef (Switzerland)0:03:51
19Kevin Van Hoovels (Belgium)0:03:54
20Karl Markt (Austria)0:04:11
21Daniel McConnell (Australia)0:04:15
22Sergio Mantecon (Spain)0:04:39
23David Rosa (Portugal)0:04:43
24Rubens Valeriano (Brazil)0:05:16
25Florian Vogel (Switzerland)0:05:29
26Andres Soto (Argentina)0:06:06
27Kohei Yamamoto (Japan)0:06:19
28Hector Paez Leon (Colombia)0:06:55
29Jean-Christophe Perraud (France)0:08:00
30Marc Bassingthwaighte (Namibia)0:08:10
31Sergiy Rysenko (Ukraine)0:08:25
32Piotr Brzozka (Poland)0:09:30
33Periklis Irias (Greece)0:09:44
34Moritz Milatz (Germany)0:09:52
35Philip Buys (South Africa)0:11:04
36Paolo Cesar Montoya (Costa Rica)0:12:12
37Evgeniy Pechenin (Russia)0:12:33
38Chun Hing Chan (Hong Kong)0:12:52
39Adrien Niyonshuti (Rwanda)0:13:39
40Marios Athanasiadis (Cyprus)0:14:18
41Weisong Tong (China)-1 Lap
42Derek Horton (Guam)-1 Lap
DNFSven Nys (Belgium)
DNFMax Plaxton (Canada)
DNFAndras Parti (Hungary)
DNFJulien Absalon (France)
DNFLiam Killeen (Great Britain)
DNSRobert Forstermann (Germany)
DNSMichael Vingerling (Netherlands)
DNSSam Bewley (New Zealand)

 

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