Switzerland’s Nino Schurter added to his record collection of cross country world titles in Mont-Sainte-Anne on Saturday with his eighth individual Elite rainbow jersey. It was extra sweet, because the last time the world championships were held here in 2010, he double-flatted while in the lead, finishing fourth.
In the absence of Dutch rival Mathieu van der Poel, who is preparing for the road world championships, Schurter was the clear favorite. He established his dominance early on the rough technical track, with only France’s Stephane Tempier still able to follow him at the halfway mark, and six riders chasing at 30-plus seconds – Ondrej Cink (Czech Republic), Henrique Avancini (Brazil), Titouan Carod (France), Victor Koretzky (France), Mathias Flueckiger (Switzerland), and Gerhard Kerschbaumer (Italy).
On the fifth lap of seven, Schurter attacked and rode away from Tempier, while the chase was splintering behind. Tempier flatted, as did Flueckiger, but both were able to quickly rejoin the other chasers by the next lap. Kerschbaumer then attacked out of the chase group and rode clear into second place, with Tempier and Flueckiger chasing together for the final podium spot.
The first two spots seemed to be set, but then disaster struck for Kerschbaumer who flatted just after going through the pits for the final time, with less than 500 meters to go in the race. He was passed by Flueckiger, Tempier, and Carod, eventually finishing fifth, with Flueckiger beating Tempier by eight seconds for silver.
“I’ve been coming here to race for more than ten years,” said Schurter, “and one of the key factors is to get through without any mechanicals. I invested more time than ever to investigate all kinds of different lines, to have the safest lines through the descents. I was also riding higher tire pressure than normal to reduce the chances of flat tires. I think that paid off; I was the only one in the top four without a mechanical.”