Most Rotorburners might forget but XC Mens is THE race the world watches. It is an Olympic sport and champs here often end up on the podium in the top road races of the world. Having talked to Chris Jongewaard before he considers a top 20 to be a great finish. He dug deep, put in a lot of hurt and came home a very credible 15th 4min35sec behind the winner.
Of the other Australian’s Daniel McConnell finished 32nd, Ben Henderson was 35th, Sid Taberlay 39th, Dylan Cooper 55th and Andrew Blair 61st.
From the press release:
Swiss sensation Nino Schurter has upstaged four time World and reigning Olympic champion Julian Absalon of France in a nail biting finale to the cross country competition at the 2009 UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships at Stromlo Forest Park in Canberra.
Schurter, 23, won the 2004 junior crown, last year claimed gold in the U23 event and today added an elite title to his collection of rainbow jerseys. His team mate Florian Vogel, 27, was third.
It was the most exciting cross country event of the week with only three seconds separating Schurter and Absalon, with Vogel and Spain’s Jose Antonio Hermida Ramos finishing on the same time 58 seconds behind the winner.
Earlier in the elite women's event, Irina Kalentieva of Russia overcame a disastrous start to defeat Lene Byberg of Norway and American Willow Koerber but it was the men’s event that had the massive crowd in raptures throughout.
All four of the top men sat together for the first four and a half 6.47 kilometre laps of the 45.29km race but it was Schurter and Vogel who rode a perfect tactical race for Switzerland.
Schurter sat glued to 29-year-old Absalon's wheel for more than half the race while Vogel shadowed Hermida Ramos as the Spaniard rode hard in a bid to try and bridge the gap to the two leaders.
With less than 1.2km to go Absalon tried to attack but a misjudgement with his gears saw him lose ground and Schurter surged ahead at the final feed zone to win in a time of 2hr04min39sec.
A jubilant Schurter said even though it appeared the course had been made for him he didn’t think he could win the gold from his more experienced and well credentialed rival.
“I’ve had such a bad season but now with this race it’s a dream come true,” Schurter said. “It’s an amazing feeling, the perfect race, perfect course for me. It was very technical and that suits me.
“The whole race I was thinking just to try to stay on his back wheel and race for silver, never thinking I could take the win but at the last feed zone I attacked and got away.”
After the race Schurter praised his bronze medal winning teammate.
“I like courses that are technical and this was the perfect course for me. I was lucky to stay with Julien and maybe without Florian I wouldn’t have been able to do that,” he said.
Meanwhile Absalom, who has won four World Cup events this year, said he was up against it having led most of the race against the Swiss pair and even though he expected Schurter to try and break away he couldn’t respond.
“I was not in a good position. I led, I did most of the race in front,” Absalom said. “This track is fast and it was not possible to get away with the wind, it was hard and the Swiss riders proved that they are the strongest nation together.
“I was expecting the attack in the feed zone (from Schurter) but not as strong.”
Swiss 2008 world champion, Christoph Sauser was well back in tenth and was only ever as close as eighth.