Nino Schurter isn't just in Czech for the beer.
| May 22 '17. 2:05 pm |
Nino Schurter stormed to victory again at Nové Město to open the 2017 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup cross-country season.
The Swiss, who won gold on the Czech Republic course at the 2016 World Championships, had to find an extra gear late on to see off towering Spaniard David Valero Serrano.
Reigning World Cup champion Julien Absalon finished strongly to fend off four fellow Frenchmen with Maxime Marotte and Jordan Sarrou rounding out the podium.
Many people were expecting Schurter to take his foot off the pedal after his stellar 2016 that also included Rio gold, however the 31-year-old was on the charge from the start loop.
The big crash at the start, after Matthias Stirnemann’s chain snapped, did not affect too many of the favourites with Swiss rider Thomas Litscher forcing the early pace from compatriot Schurter.
Valero Serrano and Lukas Fluckiger soon started their own attack as Litscher slipped back down the field, the Spaniard joining Schurter as Swiss Fluckiger toiled away in third.
With 10km ridden, Schurter and Valero Serrano had managed to put around 50 seconds on Fluckiger with Absalon moving up into contention alongside Marotte, Sarrou and Stephane Tempier.
Schurter eventually managed to create a gap to the Spaniard at the 17.85km mark and he had 24 seconds on him with one lap left to go.
He held his nerve to win by 26 seconds in a time of 1hr 27m 35s and celebrated with a wheelie on the home stretch, Valero Serrano an excellent second and Absalon fending off Marotte for a gutsy third place.
Schurter said, “I had a really great start and felt really good. Valero showed great performance. He attacked quite hard and I had to suffer a bit.
"This course suits me, it is one of my favourites and I am really happy to win here again. For me it is totally different this year. Much less pressure.
"Great winter, good training and less expectation. It is going pretty well so far. I am really stoked."
Czech crowd favourite Jaroslav Kulhavý did not enjoy the best of races for the 25,000 strong crowd at the Vysočina Arena, a puncture on the last lap seeing him come home in 55th.
The series heads to Albstadt in Germany next weekend where Schurter won by the narrowest of margins from Absalon last time out.
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