Senior Men XCO Report: UCI Mountain Bike World Championships

Senior Men XCO Report: UCI Mountain Bike World Championships

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The race to end all races! In an epic battle between youth and experience, fought between Nino Schurter and Julien Absalon there could only be one winner. It came down to a sprint to the line following attack after attack and in the race for the rainbow the winner was....

Well, we won't spoil it here. Watch the full video re-run and feel like you raced it.

Live Race Commentary:

And the men's race is on!
Hermida leading everyone out on the opening fireroad with the Swiss on the wheel and Absalon alongside.

Into the Cardiac Climb and Florian Vogel, a medallist last year sits first. Absalon second and Kabush third. Dan McConnell fourth, Nino Schurter fifth.

Sven Nys is into the top ten after a start in the forties and that's astonishing because as this race progresses it is obvious there will be close to zero passing. Even where there is space, the track is such high speed there is just not the chance.

There's now a group of nine at the front of the race, headed by Absalon, including Kabush, Nys, Vogel and Schurter, McConnell. Behind is a further, bigger chase pack.

Liam Killeen looks to be through the first descent safely in around top 30 position.

End of lap one:
Lead group
1. Geoff Kabush 17.50
2. Marco Fontana
3. Florian Vogel
4. Julien Absalon
5. Emil Lindgren
6. Sven Nys
7. Nino Schurter
8. Stephane Tempier
9. Lukas Flukiger
10. Roel Paulissen
11. Dan McConnell
12 Jose Hermida

Chase Groups
13. Jean Christoph Peraud +0.00.12
14. Christoph Sauser
15. Ruben Razafa
16. Cedric Ravanel
17. Rudi Van Houts
44. Liam Killeen +0.01.40

Back to the action and as the riders reach the first descent there has been little damage on the climb. This group looks happy to stay together because of the high quality of riders, plus in the open windy sections there is safety in numbers.

Some small gaps are appearing but they are nothing right now. Nevertheless it is important to note how attentive Absalon is being this year - no repeats of that complacancy in 2008 so far.

According to Martin Whitely Ralf Naf - who can't be here because of injury - paid to get the entire Swiss XC team out to the Worlds! Just as Nino Schurter goes into the lead...

End of lap two:
1. Julien Absalon 35.42
2. Nino Schurter st
3. Florian Vogel st
4. Emil Lindgren st
5 Geoff Kabush +00.00.01
6. Sven Nys +00.00.01
7. Jose Hermida +00.00.03
8. Lukas Flukiger +00.00.05
9. Marco Fontana +st
10. Jean Christophe Peraud +00.00.18
46. Liam Killeen +00.03.06

Now the third time up the main climb and Absalon for the first time leading all the way. The Swiss are glued to his wheel but now a little gap to the others. And on the first descent it is obvious - Absalon, Vogel and Schurter have a gap of around five seconds. Hermida is trying to make it across.

Hermida is making that decisive junction and suddenly the group behind has become several individual riders. All it took was a bit of excess pressure and boom! Maybe Kabush can get over but for the rest it's lights out.

End of lap 3:
1. Julien Absalon 53.29
2. Nino Schurter st
3. Jose Hermida st
4. Florian Vogel st
5. Sven Nys +00.00.09
6. Marco Fontana +00.00.10
7. Geoff Kabush +00.00.13
8. Christoph Sauser +00.00.57
9. Jean Christoph Peraud +00.00.58
10. Stephane Tempier +00.00.58

The Swiss pairing of Vogel and Schurter are back to the front piling on the pressure and making some Lance-style lookbacks. Unfortunately it is making no impact as both Absalon and Hermida sit on the back of the train. It would be interesting to see if one of the Swiss plays backstop to Absalon and Hermida in the singletrack.

Maybe Absalon just read my comment on his Blackberry because he is now to the front on the downhill!

And a big attack through the feed - that is dirty! But this is racing all the way, take it to 'em wherever you can get it. Onto the firetrack climb and it's back together.

For the first time it is Hermida to the front. Hermida and Absalon are good friends - could they work together to kill off the Swiss? It's not out of the question.

End of lap 4:
1.Julien Absalon 1.11.18
2 Jose Hermida st
3. Nino Schurter st
4. Florian Vogel st
5. Geoff Kabush +00.00.20
6. Sven Nys +00.00.27
7. Marco Fontana +00.00.42
8. Todd Wells +00.01.02
9. Jean Cristophe Peraud st
10. Christoph Sauser st

Headed out to the Cardiac on Ramsey Street and it is Absalon to the front. Hermida on the back - that could be a mistake in the singletrack. He won't be able to respond should there be an attack from Absalon.

Well, Hermida is out the back a little as Kabush and Nys get a good view of the lead riders. Kabush can come strong at the end of some races so he is worth a watch. Absalon kicking out a good speed right now and that is a speed too much for Hermida. It looks like once more he has to settle for second fiddle to the front runners.

Absalon now getting a small gap on the Swiss riders and no response is coming. If they think they can catch Absalon in the descent they are mistaken, Absalon's brother - Remy - is an excellent enduro downhill racer excelling in the Mega Avalanche type races and they ride together often for good training.

Well, either Nino took some mad risk, or Absalon is cruising because he is back on the wheel. A ride of a true champion right there, it would have been far to easy to give up - second in the World to one of the greatest XC racers of all time holds no shame! But Schurter is obviously holding no interest in being the number two, travelling all that way from Switzerland makes for a long flight home with no win to show for your efforts!

End of lap 5:
1. Julien Absalon 01.28.58
2. Nino Schurter st
3. Jose Hermida +00.00.22
4. Florien Vogel st
5. Geoff Kabush +00.00.48
6. Jean Christoph Peraud +00.01.45
7. Sven Nys st
8. Todd Wells st
9 Marco Fontana st
10. Cedric Ravanel st

For the first time in a while it is Schurter taking the lead on the cardiac climb and putting Absalon in the hurt box. Nino taking some risk on the downhill now, totally off the brakes on the rock garden and that buys him a couple bike lengths of breathing space.

Into the feed and Absalon has to juice himself to get back onto the wheel of Schurter. Up the climb Absalon allowed into the lead and that will hold throughout the singletrack. Still around thirty seconds back are Hermida and Vogel, fighting for that last medal.

End of lap 6:
1. Julien Absalon 1.47.09
2. Nino Schurter st
3. Jose Hermida +0.00.21
4. Florian Vogel st
5. Geoff Kabush +0.00.54

Just like in the women's race it is coming down to a head to head, this is thrilling cross country racing at its best.

Up Ramsey Street they are locked, no need to try anything silly now. Both riders have the measure of each other and it will take one electric attack to crack either man. And that is exactly what Absalon is trying to produce! But it is no good, like a smelly cheese the Swiss rider is hanging around way beyond his welcome! Absalon doesn't like it, but we're loving it!

Anyone know the last time Absalon was in a race situation like this? For sure I cannot recall anything like it and what this could come down to is a battle of wit as much as fitness. For sure, I'd hate it to come down to any kind of mistake or mechanical.

Schurter taking one hell of a look at Absalon just afer the rock garden. And Hermida senses the time to attack for third!

Into the feed, this is one of Absalon's favourite places to attack. But this time nothing, he is just rolling through in the saddle. The tactics start now and neither rider will want to be in the headwind up the climb. And Schurter attacks! Is that the wrong plan?

Nino looks around but he is giving Absalon the perfect slipstream. And Absalon attacks but Nino Shuts it DOWN!!!

Last time we saw racing like this was incidentally down under for the 2006 Commonwealth Games as Brits Oli Beckingsale and Liam Killeen went head to head.

Schurter trying everything in the descent, sprinting out of the corners. But still nothing from Julien, no mistake.

Schurter and Absalon KILL IT through the feed and Absalon now drops back - could this be the second year in a row Absalon cracks? It looks like it will.

The sidelines are teaming with fans and he has got it both riders sprint to the line and Nino is screaming in celebration. And behind there is another sprint for bronze between Vogel and Hermida. Vogel gets it, Hermida cannot come around.

1. Nino Schurter (Switzerland)
2. Julien Absalon (France) +0.00.03
3. Florian Vogel (Switzerland) +0.00.38
4. Jose Hermida (Spain) +0.00.38
5. Geoff Kabush (Canada) +0.02.04
6. Cedric Ravanel (France) +0.02.35
7. Jean Chritophe Peraud (France) +0.02.59
8. Todd Wells (USA) +0.03.06
9. Jaroslav Kulhavy +0.03.22
10. Christoph Sauser +0.03.45