Mathias Flueckiger (Thomus RN Swiss) won the men's short track race at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Leogang, Austria, on Friday. Ondrej Cink and Milan Vader completed the podium.
The men's race was missing two of its biggest stars, and the two top riders in the World Cup standings - World Cup leader Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) has shifted his efforts to the road for his pre-Olympic run-up, while Round 2 XCO winner Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) is out with injury after getting hit by a car while training.
World Number 1 Nino Schurter (Scott-SRAM) was immediately knocked out of contention when he pulled a foot out of a pedal on the start line and dropped to the back of the field. He never recovered and finished a distant 29th.
At the front, Anton Cooper (Trek Factory) took an early lead, but the top contenders were all together for most of the first half of the eight-lap race, as no one could establish a gap. However, on Lap 5, Ondrej Cink (Kross Orlen) attacked on the climb and only Flueckiger could go with him, as the chase splintered behind them. Cink continued to set the pace each lap on the climb, with Flueckiger, the new Swiss champion, content to follow. On the final lap, Cink tried an attack on the climb, but Flueckiger responded easily, going straight by him to open a gap, which he extended on the descent. Milan Vader (KMC-Orbea) won a three-way battle with world champion Jordan Sarrou (Specialized) and Cooper for third.
Despite missing the race, van der Poel still leads the World Cup, but Flueckiger has moved up to second from fifth and is only 26 points back. He will likely take the leader's jersey after Sunday's XCO.
"It's very cool [to win his first Short Track] and I didn't expected it," said Flueckiger, "I like the longer distance of the cross-country. But I'm pretty happy, and I would say that this track suits me pretty good with a longer climb and not so much sprinting. I knew from the second last lap that I had to stay on the wheel of Ondrej; it was pretty tough, but I recognized that I could pass him and I made a little gap, and it was enough. I hope I can continue like this on Sunday."
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Mathias Flueckiger (Swi)||0:20:43|
|2||Ondřej Cink (Cze)||0:00:05|
|3||Milan Vader (Ned)||0:00:16|
|4||Jordan Sarrou (Fra)||0:00:18|
|5||Anton Cooper (NZl)|
|6||Alan Hatherly (RSA)||0:00:33|
|7||Sebastian Fini Carstensen (Den)||0:00:35|
|8||Jens Schuermans (Bel)||0:00:36|
|9||Vlad Dascalu (Rom)|
|10||Jofre Cullell Estape (Spa)|
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