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Mountain Bike World Championships - CM
Fort William, Scotland, September 4-9, 2007
Race 8 - September 7: U23 men cross country, 42.8km
Fuglsang out climbs Schurter for the win
By Rob Jones in Fort William, Scotland
The Under-23 men's cross-country race saw a stunning upset when the overwhelming favourite Nino Schurter (Switzerland) did not repeat as champion, beaten convincingly by Denmark's Jakob Fuglsang. Jaroslav Kulhavy of the Czech Republic took the bronze medal, after last year's bronze medalist Max Plaxton (Canada) was hit by a myriad of mechanical problems on the second and third laps while in third place.
The U23 category did five laps of the surprisingly tough Fort William circuit, and by the end of the first lap, the race appeared to be unfolding as expected, with Schurter off the front, some 30 seconds ahead of Fuglsang. Kulhavy, Rene Tann (Germany), Daniel McConnell (Australia) and Jan Skarnitzl (Czech Republic) were a further 20 seconds behind and Plaxton was just over a minute back.
One lap later Schurter was still leading, but the gap wasn't growing, and he was starting to look over his shoulder as Fuglsang closed to 20 seconds. Behind them the battle for the third spot had thinned out to three riders - Tann, McConnell and Plaxton.
Disaster struck for Plaxton at the end of the second lap. "I got a slow leak, so I rode it through the finish line on the rim and up to the tech zone real slow. I had a good wheel change and got back into the race in about tenth, and was riding it back up towards the front."
"Then I noticed that I had no rear brake; I tried pumping it but nothing. I stopped at the next tech zone and we changed the pads, so I lost some more time, but it made no difference. I was feeling great, everything was perfect ... . I guess these things just happen."
Plaxton eventually limped to the finish, in 28th place.
At the front, Fuglsang was beginning to realize that the rainbow jersey was within his reach.
"I knew that I could take time from Nino on the flats and on the climb. Nino was descending much faster than me, and that is where he got 30 seconds on the first lap. But it's a long race and anything can happen. I just never gave up."
The pair came together early on the fourth lap, with Fuglsang taking over the lead on the climb. They began the last lap with the Danish rider just ahead of the Swiss, but he opened it up drastically on the final climb to win by close to two minutes.
"I gave it everything on the final climb, and then rode the downhill as fast a I could. It was when I got to the bottom of the downhill and looked back and couldn't see Nino that I knew that the championship was mine."
Schurter went to the podium and the press conference with a look of stunned disbelief on his face. "I'm not happy to finish second; I came here to win. Jakob was stronger than me on the climb, and that is why he is world champion. I was in good form, but the course did not suit me so much since it did not have much technical parts."
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Rob Jones/www.canadiancyclist.com
1 Jakob Fuglsang (Denmark) 1.54.04 (22.51 km/h) 2 Nino Schurter (Switzerland) 1.43 3 Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech Republic) 3.20 4 Jiri Friedl (Czech Republic) 3.24 5 Dariusz Batek (Poland) 3.58 6 Burry Stander (South Africa) 4.25 7 Patrik Gallati (Switzerland) 4.40 8 Emil Lindgren (Sweden) 4.51 9 Jan Skarnitzl (Czech Republic) 5.04 10 Daniel Mcconnell (Australia) 5.46 11 Samuel Schultz (United States of America) 6.09 12 Marc Colom (France) 6.28 13 Pascal Meyer (Switzerland) 6.43 14 Matthias Flückiger (Switzerland) 7.29 15 Alexis Vuillermoz (France) 8.13 16 Robert Gehbauer (Austria) 8.16 17 Fabian Giger (Switzerland) 8.33 18 Cristian Cominelli (Italy) 8.35 19 Dries Govaerts (Belgium) 8.43 20 Kohei Yamamoto (Japan) 8.50 21 Conner Mcconvey (Ireland) 8.56 22 Lachlan Norris (Australia) 9.22 23 Ian Bibby (Great Britain) 9.46 24 Neal Kindree (Canada) 9.58 25 François Bailly Maitre (France) 10.16 26 Tim Wijnants (Belgium) 10.23 27 Stéphane Tempier (France) 10.37 28 Max Plaxton (Canada) 11.02 29 Dario Alejandro Gasco (Argentina) 11.17 30 Ian Field (Great Britain) 11.27 31 Bjorn Brems (Belgium) 12.01 32 Catriel Andres Soto (Argentina) 12.20 33 Hans Becking (Netherlands) 12.32 34 Denis Vorontsov (Russian Federation) 12.54 35 Robert Mennen (Germany) 13.00 36 Frank Beemer (Netherlands) 13.08 37 Martin Kostelnicak (Slovakia) 13.41 38 Umberto Corti (Italy) 14.12 39 Carlos Rodrigo Sigre (Argentina) 14.21 40 Tim Ottens (Netherlands) 14.29 41 Luka Mezgec (Slovenia) 14.38 42 Mario Rojas (Colombia) 14.53 43 Raphael Gagne (Canada) 14.59 44 Ken Onodera (Japan) 15.24 45 Erik Nellen (Netherlands) 15.38 46 Niall Davis (Ireland) 15.47 47 Colin Cares (United States of America) 15.53 48 Hector Daniel Gasco (Argentina) 16.22 49 Andriy Gumenyuk (Ukraine) 16.30 50 Anders Hovdenes (Norway) 16.49 51 Periklis Ilias (Greece) 16.50 52 Andres Ignacio Pereyra (Argentina) 17.10 53 Martin Skopek (Slovakia) 17.57 54 Wilko Rochow (Germany) 18.36 55 Mitchell Peterson (United States of America) 19.01 56 Paolo Montoya (Costa Rica) 20.04 57 Reinis Andrijanovs (Latvia) 20.11 58 Craig Paul (South Africa) 20.45 59 Lorenzo Martelli (Italy) 20.50 60 Marios Athanasiades (Cyprus) 23.52 61 Sam Jurekovic (United States of America) 26.32 62 Tad Elliot (United States of America) 27.20 One lap down 63 Dani Simcic (Croatia) 64 Ervins Smolins (Latvia) 65 Luka Rakusa (Slovenia) 66 Martin Loo (Estonia) 67 Joel Martinez Fernandez (Andorra) 68 Lukas Hanus (Slovakia) 69 Giorgos Fattas (Cyprus) Two laps down 70 Felipe Avelar (Brazil) 71 Didzis Praulins (Latvia) 72 Jorge Castiblanco Cubides (Colombia) DNF Rene Tann (Germany) DNF Andrea Tiberi (Italy) DNF Ross Creber (Great Britain) DNF Andi Weinhold (Germany) DNF David Lozano Riba (Spain) DNF Alexander Wetterhall (Sweden) DNF Mario Zubcic (Croatia) DNF Oleksandr Yakymenko (Ukraine) DNS Rotem Ishai (Israel)