McConnell sprints to victory in Albstadt cross country

The opening World Cup in Albstadt, Germany ended in a sprint without any of the usual favorites. Dan McConnell (Trek Factory Racing) surprised everyone, including himself, by out-sprinting Sergio Mantecon Guiterrez (Wildwolf Trek) in the final meters of the race. Jaroslav Kulhavy (Specialized) led the chase to finish in third place.

"I've only been top 20 once. All of the sudden, I come out and win. It's going to take awhile to sink in," said McConnell to Redbull.tv after the race. "It's ridiculous. I'm just speechless."

McConnell became the first Australian rider since Cadel Evans in 2000 to win an elite cross country World Cup. He made an incredible come from behind effort in the final lap to take the win.

The men's seven-lap race began after the rain from earlier in the day had stopped, but the damage had been done, leaving the course so slick and treacherous on the downhills that one major jump was closed after a lap for safety reasons.

After a moment of silence to remember the late Burry Stander, who had finished second overall in the World Cup in 2012 and was killed in a training accident in January of 2013, the colorful peloton of racers flew off the start line.

"I tried to go hard the first half lap and get a good position. I tried to settle into my pace," said McConnell.

At first, the race seemed like it would be business as usual. World champion Nino Schurter (Scott-Swisspower) and his teammate Florian Vogel shot off the front on the start, getting a large gap early on with Marek Konwa (Superior Brentjens) joining them. Other favorites like Julien Absalon (BMC) and Kulhavy were not much further back. However, in the super slick conditions, crashes were happening everywhere and placings shuffled dramatically at first.

Schurter's mechanic reported that he had a problem with his fork; the world champ would end up out of the top 10 after stopping for assistance in the tech zone. He continued racing and finished 18th.

With Schurter out of the picture, it looked like it would be Absalon's lucky day. The French BMC rider dominated from lap 2 as he rode off the front, first with Mathias Flueckiger (Stockli), then solo. A two-time Olympic champion, Absalon set the fastest laps times for laps two through four. The French rider, who holds the record for men's World Cup wins at 25, looked to be well on his way to his 26th win, when he suffered a mechanical problem and was forced to drop out.

The tragedy struck on lap five, when Absalon broke his bike - possibly snapping a dropout. His minute-plus lead evaporated instantly after the terminal mechanical. He was forced to run with his bike with his back wheel dangling from the frame, but he was too far from the tech zone to save the day and soon abandoned the race, clearly frustrated at the lost opportunity.

With Absalon's departure, Giger, who had been chasing solo in second place, was suddenly in the front of the race on his own; however, just a few seconds back, he was chased by Mantecon Gutierrez, Maxime Marotte (BH - SR Suntour - KMC) and Lukas Flückiger (BMC Mountainbike Racing Team).

Mantecon then overtook Giger, who was starting to fade, and opened up a gap. Marotte also caught and passed Giger with one lap to go. Kulhavy, Lukas Flueckiger and McConnell followed just 10 seconds later and would also pass the Swiss rider.

With one lap to go, a handful of men had a realistic shot at the win. Mantecon's lead was tenuous, and Kulhavy fired up the diesel and surged to close the gap, bringing McConnell with him.

McConnell, whose previous best World Cup result was 20th, started the last lap in sixth place, 29 seconds behind Mantecon. He steadily picked up places on the first long climb of the lap.

Kulhavy appeared to struggle on a climb, so McConnell went around him and danced away, just behind Mantecon and setting up a final sprint between the Australian and the Spaniard, neither of whom had ever won a World Cup.

McConnell clearly had more energy at the end and out-sprinted the flagging Spaniard for the win. Kulhavy rolled in for third 11 seconds after Mantecon.

"I did not expect this," said McConnell. "I came into this looking for a solid top-15, so it's unbelievable. On the climb [on the last lap], I made contact with the group of second through fifth, and then moved into second through the feedzone. I could see Sergio in front of me, and at that stage just gave it everything, and caught him through the grass section at the bottom of the descent."

"I got into the last corner with a little bit of a gap and nothing was going to get past me at that point, I was running on adrenalin."

Marotte and Lukas Flueckiger (BMC) rounded out the podium.

Race notes

- It was so slippery that officials closed the A-line over the jump for part of the men's race.

- The race was without local favorite Manuel Fumic (Cannondale), who crashed and broke his collarbone during training earlier this week.

Full Results

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Elite men cross country
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Daniel McConnell (Aus) Trek Factory Racing1:42:36
2Sergio Mantecon Gutierrez (Spa) Wild Wolf Trek Pro Racing0:00:02
3Jaroslav Kulhavy (Cze) Specialized Racing Xc0:00:13
4Maxime Marotte (Fra) BH - SR Suntour - KMC0:00:17
5Lukas Flückiger (Swi) BMC Mountainbike Racing Team0:00:31
6Martin Fanger (Swi) BMC Mountainbike Racing Team0:00:45
7Max Plaxton (Can)0:01:06
8Fabian Giger (Swi) Giant Pro XC Team0:01:09
9Thomas Litscher (Swi) Multivan Merida Biking Team0:01:11
10Stéphane Tempier (Fra) BH - SR Suntour - KMC0:01:24
11José Antonio Hermida Ramos (Spa) Multivan Merida Biking Team0:01:38
12Ondrej Cink (Cze) Multivan Merida Biking Team0:01:53
13Rudi Van Houts (Ned) Multivan Merida Biking Team0:02:03
14Henk Jaap Moorlag (Ned) Giant Pro XC Team0:02:16
15Geoff Kabush (Can) Scott-3Roxracing0:02:53
16Marco Aurelio Fontana (Ita) Cannondale Factory Racing0:03:17
17Florian Vogel (Swi) Scott Swisspower MTB Racing Team0:03:30
18Nino Schurter (Swi) Scott Swisspower MTB Racing Team
19Marek Konwa (Pol) Superior Brentjens Mountainbike Racing Team0:03:50
20Emil Lindgren (Swe) Giant Pro XC Team0:04:07
21Alexander Gehbauer (Aut) TX Active Bianchi0:04:16
22Martin Loo (Est) Merida Italia Team0:04:18
23Fabien Canal (Fra) Asptt Definitive Tec0:04:24
24Mathias Flückiger (Swi) Stöckli Pro Team0:04:31
25Kevin Van Hoovels (Bel) Versluys Team0:04:51
26Jiri Novak (Cze) Superior Brentjens Mountainbike Racing Team0:05:12
27Marcel Wildhaber (Swi) Scott Swisspower MTB Racing Team0:05:29
28Uwe Hochenwarter (Aut) Focus XC Team0:05:51
29Jürg Graf (Swi) BSK Graf-Rollmat-Koba MTB Team0:06:16
30Jochen Kass (Ger)0:06:20
31Nicola Rohrbach (Swi) Goldwurst-Power / Stöckli0:06:28
32Sepp Freiburghaus (Swi)0:06:43
33Gerhard Kerschbaumer* (Ita) TX Active Bianchi0:06:48
34Ivan Alvarez Gutierrez (Spa) Elettroveneta-Corratec0:07:01
35Karl Markt (Aut) Ötztal Scott Racing Team0:07:02
36Derek Zandstra (Can) Scott-3Roxracing
37Michele Casagrande (Ita) Elettroveneta-Corratec0:07:05
38Hans Becking (Ned) Superior Brentjens Mountainbike Racing Team0:07:23
39Jan Skarnitzl (Cze) Sram Rubena Trek0:07:33
40Sergji Rysenko (Ukr) Cycling Club Roma MTB Team0:07:50
41Miguel Martinez (Fra)0:08:29
42Mitchell Hoke (USA)0:08:43
43Martin Gujan (Swi) TX Active Bianchi0:08:48
44Pascal Meyer (Swi) JB Felt Team0:08:49
45Raphael Gagne (Can)0:09:10
46Paolo Cesar Montoya Cantillo (CRc)0:09:13
47Sebastien Carabin (Bel) Team Merida Wallonie MTB0:09:15
48Filip Eberl (Cze)0:09:23
49Lucien Besancon (Swi)0:09:33
50Andrea Tiberi (Ita) Controltech Nevi0:09:47
51Andy Eyring (Ger)0:09:55
52Simon Scheiber (Aut) Ötztal Scott Racing Team0:10:04
53Andras Parti (Hun)0:10:18
54Patrik Gallati (Swi) Focus XC Team0:10:29
55Catriel Andres Soto (Arg) Wild Wolf Trek Pro Racing0:10:34
56Ismael Ventura Sanchez (Spa)0:10:49
57Philip Buys (RSA)0:11:03
58Tim Wynants (Bel) Toka Print MTB Team0:11:13
59Cameron Jette (Can) Scott-3Roxracing0:11:22
60Pavel Priadein (Rus)0:11:25
61Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra)0:11:26
62Timo Modosch (Ger)0:12:04
63Matous Ulman (Cze)0:12:12
64Robert Wardell (GBr)0:12:21
65Martino Fruet (Ita)0:12:41
66Carl Jones (NZl)0:13:16
67Maximilian Holz (Ger)0:14:10
-1lapMarcel Fleschhut (Ger)
-1lapPierluigi Bettelli (Ita)
-1lapJonas De Backer (Bel)
-1lapDaniel Eymann (Swi)
-1lapCristofer Bosque Ruano (Spa)
-2lapsJonas Baumann (Swi) Wheeler - Ixs Team
-2lapsShlomi Haimy (Isr) Focus XC Team
-2lapsSimon Gegenheimer (Ger)
-2lapsLukas Sablik (Cze)
-2lapsSilvio Busser (Swi) Wheeler - Ixs Team
-2lapsUmbert Almenara Verges (Spa)
-3lapsDavid Joao Serralheiro Rosa (Por)
-3lapsGareth Montgomerie (GBr)
-3lapsLudovic Dubau (Fra) Newcycling
-3lapsMarco Schätzing (Ger)
-3lapsJosé Juan Escarcega (Mex)
-3lapsFlorian Thie (Swi)
-3lapsMichael Broderick (USA)
-3lapsDavy Huygens (Bel)
-3lapsPete Ostroski (USA)
-3lapsUmberto Corti (Ita) Controltech Nevi
-3lapsWolfram Kurschat (Ger) Topeak Ergon Racing Team
-4lapsRenay Groustra (RSA)
-4lapsDavid Escolar Ballesteros (Spa)
-4lapsBrice Scholtes (Bel) Team Merida Wallonie MTB
-4lapsRobby De Bock (Bel) Feenstra Felt Powered By Kenda
-4lapsSteffen Thum (Ger)
-4lapsColin Cares (USA)
-4lapsSang Hoon Na (Kor) Calvisson Vtt
-4lapsMario Matijevic (Bel)
-5lapsAli Cakas (Tur)
-5lapsBesik Gavasheli (Geo)
DNFSimon Stiebjahn (Ger) Team Bulls
DNFJulien Absalon (Fra) BMC Mountainbike Racing Team
DNFTorsten Marx (Ger)
DNFGiancarlo Sax (Swi)
DNFOla Kjören (Nor) Team Herbalife 24 Raumerrittet
DNFZsolt Juhasz (Hun)
DNFCristobal Silva Ibaceta (Chi)
DNFAlban Lakata (Aut) Topeak Ergon Racing Team
DNFFranz Hofer (Ita)
DNFTodd Wells (USA) Specialized Racing Xc
DNFKohei Yamamoto (Jpn) Specialized Racing Xc
DNFSven Nys (Bel)
DNFMatthias Wengelin (Swe)
DNFKristian Hynek (Cze) Elettroveneta-Corratec
DNFDaniel Federspiel (Aut) Ötztal Scott Racing Team
DSQMykhaylo Batsutsa (Ukr) Cycling Club Roma MTB Team
DNSManuel Fumic (Ger) Cannondale Factory Racing
DNSMichal Lami (Svk)
DNSRobert Mennen (Ger) Topeak Ergon Racing Team
DNSMirco Widmer (Swi) Giant Dealerteams
DNSAdam Morka (Can)
DNSDmitry Medvedev (Rus)
DNSMirko Pirazzoli (Ita)
DNSRafal Hebisz (Pol) Sante-Bsa Tour
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Teams
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Multivan Merida Biking Team61pts
2BMC Mountainbike Racing Team54
3BH - SR Suntour - KMC51
4Giant Pro XC Team51
5Trek Factory Racing40
6Wild Wolf Trek Pro Racing35
7Specialized Racing XC32
8Scott Swisspower MTB Racing Team31
9Superior Brentjens Mountainbike Racing Team17
10Scott-3Roxracing16
11Cannondale Factory Racing15
12TX Active Bianchi10
13Merida Italia Team9
14Asptt Definitive Tec8
15Stöckli Pro Team7
16Versluys Team6
17Focus XC Team3
18BSK Graf-Rollmat-Koba MTB Team2
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Elite men cross country World Cup standings after round 1
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Daniel Mcconnell (Aus) Trek Factory Racing250pts
2Sergio Mantecon Gutierrez (Spa) Wild Wolf Trek Pro Racing200
3Jaroslav Kulhavy (Cze) Specialized Racing XC160
4Maxime Marotte (Fra) BH - SR Suntour - KMC150
5Lukas Flückiger (Swi) BMC Mountainbike Racing Team140
6Martin Fanger (Swi) BMC Mountainbike Racing Team130
7Max Plaxton (Can)120
8Fabian Giger (Swi) Giant Pro XC Team110
9Thomas Litscher (Swi) Multivan Merida Biking Team100
10Stéphane Tempier (Fra) BH - SR Suntour - KMC95
11José Antonio Hermida Ramos (Spa) Multivan Merida Biking Team90
12Ondrej Cink (Cze) Multivan Merida Biking Team85
13Rudi Van Houts (Ned) Multivan Merida Biking Team80
14Henk Jaap Moorlag (Ned) Giant Pro XC Team78
15Geoff Kabush (Can) Scott-3Roxracing76
16Marco Aurelio Fontana (Ita) Cannondale Factory Racing74
17Florian Vogel (Swi) Scott Swisspower MTB Racing Team72
18Nino Schurter (Swi) Scott Swisspower MTB Racing Team70
19Marek Konwa (Pol) Superior Brentjens Mountainbike Racing Team68
20Emil Lindgren (Swe) Giant Pro XC Team66
21Alexander Gehbauer (Aut) TX Active Bianchi64
22Martin Loo (Est) Merida Italia Team62
23Fabien Canal (Fra) Asptt Definitive Tec60
24Mathias Flückiger (Swi) Stöckli Pro Team58
25Kevin Van Hoovels (Bel) Versluys Team56
26Jiri Novak (Cze) Superior Brentjens Mountainbike Racing Team54
27Marcel Wildhaber (Swi) Scott Swisspower MTB Racing Team52
28Uwe Hochenwarter (Aut) Focus XC Team50
29Jürg Graf (Swi) BSK Graf-Rollmat-Koba MTB Team48
30Jochen Kass (Ger)46
31Nicola Rohrbach (Swi) Goldwurst-Power / Stöckli44
32Sepp Freiburghaus (Swi)42
33Gerhard Kerschbaumer* (Ita) TX Active Bianchi40
34Ivan Alvarez Gutierrez (Spa) Elettroveneta-Corratec38
35Karl Markt (Aut) Ötztal Scott Racing Team36
36Derek Zandstra (Can) Scott-3Roxracing34
37Michele Casagrande (Ita) Elettroveneta-Corratec32
38Hans Becking (Ned) Superior Brentjens Mountainbike Racing Team30
39Jan Skarnitzl (Cze) Sram Rubena Trek29
40Sergji Rysenko (Ukr) Cycling Club Roma MTB Team28
41Miguel Martinez (Fra)27
42Mitchell Hoke (USA)26
43Martin Gujan (Swi) TX Active Bianchi25
44Pascal Meyer (Swi) JB Felt Team24
45Raphael Gagne (Can)23
46Paolo Cesar Montoya Cantillo (CRc)22
47Sebastien Carabin (Bel) Team Merida Wallonie MTB21
48Filip Eberl (Cze)20
49Lucien Besancon (Swi)19
50Andrea Tiberi (Ita) Controltech Nevi18
51Andy Eyring (Ger)17
52Simon Scheiber (Aut) Ötztal Scott Racing Team16
53Andras Parti (Hun) Waberer's Areus Cube MTB Team15