Posted by Editoress on 10/10/20
Jordan Sarrou completed a sweep for France at the Mountain Bike World championships on Saturday in Leogang, Austria, winning the Elite men's cross-country (XCO) after his nation also won both the Elite and Under-23 women's titles earlier in the day. Mathias Flueckiger (Switzerland) took the silver medal after a hard fought battle with Titouan Carod (France). Leandre Bouchard was the top Canadian (and North American), finishing 26th. Andrew L'Esperance was 38th, Peter Disera 40th, Marc Andre Fortier 51st, and Raphael Auclair finished a lap down.
Start of men's race
Jordan Sarrou wins
l to r - Mathias Flueckiger, Jordan Sarrou, Titouan Carod
The men started with looming grey clouds and wind, but the rain held off until the race was almost over and did not impact the course. However, the mud from a week's worth of rain made the descents slick and treacherous, with almost every rider getting into difficulty at one time or another.
Milan Vader (Netherlands) attacked on the start loop, opening small gap, but on the first of six laps, Sarrou bridged across to him. Behind, a chase group formed consisting of Henrique Avancini (Brazil), Flueckiger, Carod, Luca Braidot (Italy) and Victor Koretzky (France). Missing was defending champion Nino Schurter (Switzerland), who was never a factor in the race, eventually finishing ninth.
Sarrou and Vader rode at the front until the third lap, when Vader crashed fairly hard on a descent, chasing Sarrou. The Dutch rider got back up and going, but appeared to be shaken by his fall. He was caught by the chase group and then slid back through the field to eventually finish 23rd. Sarrou continued to ride smoothly and powerfully throughout the race, making only small errors on the rooty descents. Starting the last lap he had over a minute lead, but almost did a face plant on a fast section of descending before backing off to ride more conservatively to the finish, 45 seconds ahead of Flueckiger.
Koretzky was the next to be dropped by the chasers, with Avancini doing a lot of the early work in the chase. However, when Flueckiger started to attack on the descents in the final two laps, the Brazilian quickly dropped off the group. Braidot was the next to get dropped, just before the start of the final lap, and then Flueckiger put in a dig on one of the last lap climbs to open a seven second gap over Carod, which he extended to ten seconds by the finish line.
Sarrou, winning his first medal at the Elite level, was emotional after his win, "I was really, really focussed and did my best in my ride. I can't believe ... I'm world champion ... I'm in a dream. I have no words. I just want to thank all my crew, the mechanics, the federation, my team, the support has been huge. I just can't believe it."
Leandre Bouchard was top N American
Bouchard, who dropped to the low 40s on the first lap, steadily picked up his pace through the race, recording the tenth fastest split on the final lap. "It was pretty neat to finish the world championships with my best result of the year. I tried to sprint for the top-25. My start was good, but then I started to suffer a bit from the early pace, but I kept charging. The conditions were super rough and super muddy, but I was feeling great on the course. I rode pretty consistently and gained a few positions every lap. I was consistent on the climbs, but the downhill was one of my strengths today, and that was where I did most of my passing. I knew by the last lap I was below 30th and I was able to see the top-25 in a group in front of me. I'm very grateful to have a [racing] season this year; it could have been nothing, but we had five races in two weeks."
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