Silver medal for Julien Absalon at Andorra World Championships5. September 2015, Vallnord, Andorra — MTB Team
The World Championships was no different from the rest of the season. Early in the race, defending World Champion Julien Absalon and Nino Schurter found themselves at the front, battling for the gold medal. But, like many times this season, the Swiss rider managed to squeeze open a small gap in the last lap and Julien Absalon had to settle for second place.
The high altitude Andorran ski resort of Vallnord that hosts this year’s World Championships, was the centre of a lot of speculation this week. Would the Cross-country race be another battle between the best two riders of the season? Or would another rider come into the game and create a surprise? Questions that were left unanswered until the second lap of the race only. In fact, none of the outsiders could follow the pace of the two fastest cross-country riders in the world.
This is exactly when the “mano à mano” for the rainbow jersey started. During the four remaining laps, Nino displayed once again his great technical skills in the slippery off-camber downhill located in the first part of the course. “It was the key section of the course” Julien explained. “Nino was definitely smoother in this section and it is where the whole race happened. In the first lap I lost about 30 seconds in traffic and after that, it was where Nino opened a little gap every lap. I managed to catch him a few times but it cost me a lot of energy and in the end it was too much.”
“Silver is not what I came for but I gave everything and therefore, I can be happy with this medal” he said.
Ralph Näf finished on a high
Vallnord 2015 was a special race for Ralph Näf who raced the last World Championships of his career. Winning the final sprint for seventh place made him a happy man. “I had fun today! Val di Sole (his last World Cup race) was very emotional for me and I couldn’t fight for a result there but I really enjoyed today and I am very happy with my race” he explained, all smiles and surrounded by his supporters on the finish line.
Lukas Flückiger once again unlucky
After a great start, Lukas Flückiger bent his shifter in the first lap when crashing in a small downhill. Shifting became very difficult and on top of that a flat tire in the fourth lap stopped his chances of standing on the podium. “I am disappointed. For once I had a great start but I wasn’t lucky. Somehow this race is a short version of what my 2015 season has been.” He eventually crossed the line in 12th place. With three riders in the top 12, the BMC Mountain Bike Racing Team showed once again a great team performance and is already looking forward to the 2016 season.
1. Nino Schurter 1:29’22
2. Julien Absalon +0’10’’
3. Ondrej Cink +1’15’’
7. Ralph Näf +3’13’’
12. Lukas Flückiger +4‘11‘‘