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France’s domination of the 2020 UCI mountain-bike world championships in Leogang, Austria continued on Saturday as Jordan Sarrou claimed the elite men’s cross-country title on a slippery and muddy course.
Sarrou, 27, overtook Dutch rider Milan Vader near the end of the first of six laps, and then never looked back. As other pre-race favorites slipped and stumbled on the muddy, slippery course, Sarrou powered ahead, opening a sizable gap on Swiss rider Mathias Fleuckiger.
In the end, Sarrou crossed the line 45 seconds ahead of Flueckiger, with countryman Titouan Carod in third, at 0:55 in arrears.
Sarrou said his strategy was to start fast and ride as smooth as possible.
“The plan was to start fast and to be really smooth with the mechanics,” Sarrou said. “I did my pace and I was really focused on my ride and I can’t believe it. I’m world champion. I’m in a dream. I can’t believe it. No words.”
With his victory, Sarrou brought an end to the uninterrupted domination at the world championships by Swiss rider Nino Schurter. Schurter, who owns eight elite world crowns — including titles from 2015 through 2019 — was never near the front and finished in 9th place, 2:33 down on Sarrou.
Sarrou became the first French rider to claim the title since Julian Absalon won it in 2014 in Lilehammer, Norway. Absalon, the Olympic champion in 2004 and 2008, claimed five world titles between 2004 and 2014.
This is Sarrou’s biggest result thus far in his elite career. Sarrou has been a fixture on the elite UCI World Cup circuit since 2015 and has scored several podium finishes. He has yet to claim an elite World Cup win.
“I don’t know, I have no words for the moment,” he said. “I just want to thank all of my crew and the federation and my team on my support. It is huge. I can’t believe it.”
Sarrou’s victory came several hours after his countrywoman Pauline-Ferrand Prévot claimed victory in the elite women’s cross-country race. And earlier in the day Loana Lecomte of France claimed the Under-23 women’s title.
UCI cross-country mountain-bike world championships
- Jordan Sarrou, France, 1:25:37
- Mathias Flueckiger, Switzerland, at 0:45
- Titoan Carod, France, at 0:55
- Luca Braidot, Italy, at 1:23
- Ondrej Cink, Czech Republic, at 1:37
- Maxime Marotte, France, at 1:37
- Filippo Colombo, Switzerland, at 2:12
- Nadir Colledani, at 2:29
- Nino Schurter, Switzerland, at 2:33
- Henrique Avancini, Brazil, at 2:49