World Cup #2: Absalon second in sprint with Schurter, Forster 5th23. May 2016, Albstadt, Germany — Melanie Leveau — MTB Team
Although Julien Absalon didn’t make a repeat of the last two gold medal successes in the 2014 and 2015 UCI MTB World Cup presented by Shimano in Albstadt, Germany the European Champion found plenty of reasons to be happy with his race over the weekend. Lars Forster proves that his sixth place in Cairns wasn’t a one-off stroke of luck by taking 5th place.
The race in Albstadt was a thrilling one. Undecided until the finish line, it was arguably one of the best cross-country races in the last few years. The two main protagonists were once again Julien Absalon and Nino Schurter, no real surprise there. They steamed off early in the race to deliver a long and hard-fought battle. Both of them attacked a few times, in the uphills and in the downhills too but none of them managed to take an advantage. After a start loop and seven laps on the demanding course (210m of elevation per lap), it all came down to a sprint finish. At this game, Schurter is the strongest and Absalon knows it. “I decided to go first into the last descent. I kept the lead until the last corner in order to attack the sprint ahead of Nino. He managed to pass me in the very last meters but for the first time I really believed I could win a sprint against him.” Absalon wasn’t too disappointed though. “Tactically, I did everything right. I wasn’t feeling as good as in Cairns but still managed to challenge Nino not only in the uphills but in the descents as well.”
It looks like the difference between the two best enemies has never been so small, so next weekend’s race in La Bresse should be another exciting one. Absalon will be racing on homseoil: “I grew up 15km from La Bresse so I know the track very well, like it a lot, and I will have all my fans cheering for me.”
Impressive performance by Lars Forster
After his sixth place at Round one of the World Cup, Lars Forster started his second Elite World Cup race on the front row, surrounded by the greatest names in the sport. But the young rider didn’t let himself be intimated or put off by a course that he clearly dislikes because of its long uphill drags and not-so-technical descents. “I was nervous at the start but went all-in in the first corner to be in the top 10. Half-way through the race I was in a little group challenging for third place. I was a bit afraid I wouldn’t be able to manage it until the finish so I didn’t follow the attacks and rode at my own speed to catch them up later. I rode with Kulhavy for a couple of laps – it was a cool experience! But he managed to drop me at some point. Finishing fifth and standing on the podium with big guns like Schurter, Absalon and Kulhavy is incredible! I had goose bumps crossing the line here today.”
Forster will start next week’s World Cup with the bib number four. Motivation is high, and he will be racing for another top 5 result and a possible selection for the Olympic Games.
First top 10 for Reto Indergand
Starting with number 46, Reto Indergand got off to a great start that put him quickly in contention for a top result. “I rode well until I found a good spot in the field. After that I tried to manage my speed, stay calm and save energy for the last minutes of the race. At the European Championships two weeks ago, I tried a bit too hard and didn’t have anything left in the tank for the end of the race so I didn’t want a repeat of this.” Indergand eventually took 10th place in a sprint for 8th place. “I wanted to do well today and top 15 was the goal so I am super happy with my result!”
“Own record” for Martin Fanger
Short on UCI points, Martin Fanger started with the disadvantage of a low bib number (83) but managed the incredible performance of passing no less than 66 riders to take 17th place. “That must be a record!” he said with a big smile. His hard-earned World Cup and European Championships points will bargain him a much improved start position at next week’s World Cup.
All of these results topped off with Lukas Flückiger’s 14th place got the BMC MTB Racing Team up on the podium one again to receive the yellow number plate deserved only of the best team at the World Cup.
Next week’s World Cup in La Bresse promises to be another exciting race.
- Nino Schurter 1:26:38
- Julien Absalon +0:00
- Maxime Marotte +0:55
- Jaroslav Kulhavy +1:36
- Lars Forster +2:02
10. Reto Indergand +3:25
14. Lukas Flückiger +3:57
17. Martin Fanger +4:11
Full results here.
Photos: EGO Promotion