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Schurter, Absalon Hit it in Houffalize

While dropped from the World Cup circuit for 2011, mountain bike racing carried on at one of the most coveted venues — Houffalize, Belgium — over the weekend with the best-of-the-best throwing down.

And again, it was Swiss Nino Schurter (ScottSwiss Power) claiming the victory four seconds ahead of rival Julien Absalon (Orbea) of France. World no. 1 ranked rider, the Czech Jaroslav Kulhavy (Specialized), finished the in third with a gap of 55 seconds.

Canadian Geoff Kabush (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) was the only North American to race with a strong tenth-place finish.

Similar to the 2011 World Cup opener more than a week ago in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, Absalon and Schurter were on the front of the race. And again, Schurter attacked on the final lap on the penultimate climb and shook off Absalon. Absalon, a double Olympic champion, couldn’t catch his younger foil. Kulhavy was the fastest rider of the chase in the final section, rounding out the podium.

“It is always fun to go against Absalon. Winning here was a confirmation of my victory in Pietermaritzburg,” Schurter was quoted on rockyroads.net.

Absalon, meanwhile, said he was not disappointed with the outcome.

“I’m actually happy with the result,” he said. “I had a really bad start and didn’t think I would be able to get back into the front of the race and certainly not that I would ride for the victory. In Houffalize the best always wins because the track is so technical, you can really make a difference.”

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