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Nino Schurter does it again with 10th cross country mountain bike world title

Top contender Pidcock derailed by two late-race errors, finishes fourth.

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Nino Schurter (Switzerland) stomped to a phenomenal 10th cross country MTB world title Sunday, 13 years after capturing his first rainbow jersey.

David Serrano (Spain) and Luca Braidot (Italy) followed the Swiss “GOAT” for silver and bronze at nine and 29 seconds respectively.

Pre-race favorite Tom Pidcock (Great Britain) made two similar errors in both the sixth and final laps of the seven-lap race in Les Gets. The Brit crossed the line in fourth looking disconsolate.

The victory was a full-circle moment for Schurter, who took his first junior world champion victory at the same venue in Les Gets, France in 2004.

“This place is magic for me,” Schurter said. “I won my first title here and now again as the oldest rider ever and tenth title. It’s unbelievable.”

Henrique Avancini (Brazil) led out the start with Titouan Carod (France) and Vlad Dascalu (Romania) jostling for position. Schurter took the lead early on, but there were numerous lead changes throughout the race as multiple riders made mistakes in the technical sections and nobody gave each other an inch.

Frenchman and 2020 world champion Jordan Sarrou took up pacemaking at the front on the second lap, but  Swissman Schurter moved the front and pushed the pace on the downhills.

Sam Gaze (New Zealand) — who won the short track rainbow jersey on Friday — was in third when he crashed on a jump and had to abandon the race with an injury.

Serrano and Braidot moved into third and fourth place, respectively, with Alan Hatherly (South Africa) and Pidcock filling out the lead group. Pidcock attacked but couldn’t open up much of a gap, and later that lap Schurter slid out in a grassy corner.

Midway through the race, Serrano led the race followed by Schurter and Braidot, and Pidcock was dangling in fourth place slightly off the pace.

On lap six, Schurter attacked and Serrano was the only one able to match him. Braidot tried to claw his way back in third. In each of the last two laps, Pidcock got hung up in a technical switchback section, losing time in the same spot each time and stopping for a rear wheel change during the penultimate lap.

Schurter and Serrano rode side-by-side into a technical section during the last lap but Schurter pulled ahead. Serrano followed closely, but Schurter used his technical riding skills to open up a gap and take victory with a 9-second margin. Braidot was 29 seconds back and Pidcock finished with a deficit of 1:29.

“It’s insane,” Shurter said. “It’s unbelievable. I couldn’t believe when I crossed the finish that I did it again. It was a tough race.”

Schurter said that his strategy was to make the race hard from the start, and on the last lap he pushed Serrano to his breaking point.

“I really tried to take it over from the start, making a hard race so Pidcock can’t get too easy to the front,” he said. “In the end we were Valero and I, and I took my chance to try to force him to make mistakes. Luckily he did a mistake in one of the last technical bits. I just got away and from there I went full gas.”

Serrano expressed admiration for Schurter at the finish line and said that he was happy with this second-place finish. Braidot said he was aiming for a better result, but the third place was a career-best world championship performance for the Italian.

“The track was super hard and the atmosphere was amazing,” Braidot said. “The French people did a really good job. I am happy about the race. I gave my best and that’s the result.”

The victory is a high point to cap off a tumultuous summer for the multi-time Olympic champion.

At the World Cup race in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, Schurter tangled with rival and countryman Mathias Fluckinger. The crash caused both riders to miss out on the possible win, and each rider felt wronged by the other. Over the pond in the United States, Schurter took a hard fall off of a bridge during the Snowshoe World Cup short track race and withdrew from the weekend’s XCO race.

2022 XCO world championships

  1. Nino Schurter (Switzerland): 1:21:13
  2. David Valero Serrano (Spain): +0:09
  3. Luca Braidot (Italy): +0:29
  4. Tom Pidcock (Great Britain): +1:29
  5. Marcel Guerrini (Switzerland): +1:40
  6. Jordan Sarrou (France): +2:04