Switzerland swept the podium in the men’s elite race at the world mountain bike championships in Saalfelden, Austria, Saturday as Nino Schurter won ahead of compatriots Lukas Fluckiger in second, and his brother Mathias third. France’s Julie Bresset dominated the women’s race just as she had the Olympics, beating multiple former world champion Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Norway) and Georgia Gould (USA).
Men’s elite: Swiss team rolls to fill podium
In the elite men’s eight lap race, Schurter immediately took control after the start loop, attacking with Marco Fontana (Italy). Schurter and Fontana had taken silver and bronze respectively in the London Olympics and, with the Olympic Champion Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech Republic), clearly not showing the same form as in London, rode clear of the field.
Initially, they were joined by Schurter’s Swiss team mate Fabian Giger, but he faded from the fierce pace halfway through the race, just as two other Swiss riders were moving forward, the Fluckiger brothers; Lukas and Mathias.
Schurter dropped Fontana for good on lap five, and by the start of the final lap Lukas Fluckiger was clear in second, and his brother Mathias was in third.
Behind, the two-time Olympic champion Julien Absalon (France) was mounting a late charge, moving ahead of Giger and Fontana into fourth, but finishing 13 seconds shy of catching Mathias Fluckiger.
“It was my best season ever, and I’m happy,” said Schurter. “It’s a great victory for Switzerland. I felt good today and had no problems.”
Elite women: Victory for Olympic champion
Bresset convincingly won the women’s Olympic title in London four weeks ago, but the question was whether or not the media demands and emotional letdown after the Games would hinder her performance at the World Championships.
The answer was clearly no; as the first year elite rider followed up her silver medal in the team relay on Thursday with the gold medal and rainbow jersey in the cross-country on Saturday.
Bresset dropped Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Norway) and Olympic silver medalist Sabine Spitz (Germany) on the first lap of the six lap race, and pulled away to take a rare double: the Olympic and world titles in the same year.
Behind, Dahle Flesjaa took sole possession of second place after Spitz crashed on lap three, breaking a rim and requiring assistance in the tech zone, dropping her out of the top-ten.
American Georgia Gould, the Olympic bronze medalist moved up to third, and managed to hold onto it despite a serious effort by Esther Suss (Switzerland) to close the gap.
Bresset said that she had not done a lot of preparation for the World Championships, due to post-Olympic obligations, and was happy that her form from the the Olympics had carried through.
“Today I won my race in the technical section,” she said. “When Sabine made a mistake in the technical section on the first lap, that’s when I took over the lead.
“Later, I got ten seconds in the technical section and led from then on. The gold medal of a world champion is very amazing.”
Report courtesy www.uci.ch
Results – elite men
- Schurter, Nino (SUI), 1:40:55
- Flückiger, Lukas, (SUI), +0:29
- Flückiger, Mathias (SUI), +0:51
- Absalon, Julien (FRA), +1:04
- Giger, Fabian (SUI), +1:16
- Fontana, Marco Aurelio (ITA), +1:45
- Fumic, Manuel (GER), +1:58
- Stander, Burry (RSA), +2:01
- Tempier, Stéphane (FRA), 2:06
- Mantecon Gutierrez, Sergio (ESP), +2:53
Results – elite women
- Bresset, Julie (FRA), 1:32:25
- Dahle-Flesja Gunn-Rita (NOR), +1:47
- Gould Georgia (USA), +3:12
- Süss, Esther (SUI), +3:22
- Kalentieva, Irina (RUS), +3:23
- Spitz, Sabine (GER), +3:45
- Hurikova, Tereza (CZE), +3:50
- Davinson, Lea (USA), +3:50
- Dawiddowicz, Aleksandra (POL), +4,03
- Klemencic, Blaza (SLO), +4,05