Even though the World Cup kick-off in Germany missed the 20,000 spectators usually huddling together around the track, this first stop managed to deliver MTB racing action at its finest.
With the way Nino Schurter was racing, he would have deserved this first victory of the season. With Victor Koretzky he battled against someone with a stronger sprint finish.
Step by step Kate Courtney gets closer to where she wants to be clearly aiming for the top spot on the podium. With a strong race to 4th place, she claimed her spot in the field of favorites to look out for in this season.
Andri Frischknecht also showed his teeth finishing in solid 24th while Lars Forster, unfortunately, picked a very bad day for racing. With the full team being back in full swing for the World Cup Season, the team's momentum and overall performance were a great sign towards the season ahead!
The men's race was as unpredictable as the weather that went from snowfall on Friday prior to the XCC to 25° summer conditions on Sunday for the XCO. With a packed field of favorites, all were set for an interesting afternoon of racing with pure MTB specialists like Schurter, Flückiger, Avancini, lining up against upcoming french riders or successful all-rounders like Mathieu Van der Poel or Tom Pidcock.
After winning the short track on Friday and having a solid solo lead after 1.5 laps in the XCO, it looked like the MVDP would run the show, but like the weather, things changed fast.
The level of racing was tremendously high. With dozens of riders still within seconds of the lead after the halfway mark, the second part of the race tore the field wide open. After MVDP dropped back from his effort at the start, Ondrej Cink had a strong phase. Tom Pidcock was the one with the most impressive performance moving up over 70 places all the way up to the leading pack. Whoever attacked out of the leading group, it was always Nino Schurter to go with the attack. Same when Matthias Flückiger went to the front in the last lap.
Nino controlled the race like no one else. And when he went down the very last descent all in with full risk, he managed to get a 3-second gap on his last follower, Victor Koretzky. The young French rider was holding up against Nino with a super-fast finale closing the gap and eventually outsprint Nino at the finish line.
"What can I say! I felt strong, believed in my chance to win and I gave everything I had. I'm proud of how I raced today. If this is not enough for first place, I have to accept and keep pushing hard to end up where I want to be - on top of the podium!"
8x World Champion, 2020 European Champion & Olympic Champion