Posted by Editoress on 04/10/22
Mountain bike world champion Nino Schurter (Scott SRAM) finally matched the record of 33 World Cup wins held by Julien Absalon on Saturday in Petropolis, Brazil. Schurter has been chasing this goal since 2019, and it came down to a sprint finish against Maxime Marotte (Santa Cruz FSA). Vlad Dascalu (Trek Factory) took third. Schurter also dons the World Cup leader's jersey with his win.
Gunnar Holmgren (Pivot Cycles-OTE) was the top Canadian, moving up steadily to finish 25th. His team mate Marc-Andre Fortier was 33rd and Peter disera (Norco Factory) was 37th. Quinton Disera was 42nd, Tyler Orschel 49th, Sean Fincham 52nd, Victor Verrault (Foresco Holding Proco RL) 72nd, Malcolm Barton 80th and Raphael Auclair (Pivot Cycles-OTE) 81st. Canadian champion Leandre Bouchard (Foresco Holding Proco RL) did not start after suffering a concussion in the training accident on Friday.
"I'm really happy to start the season off this way: grabbing some valuable points and confidence," says Holmgren. "Brazil is a Cycling Mecca and I hope the World Cup returns here in the future. The atmosphere was electric and the fans were some of the best I've ever had the pleasure to race for."
"Great start to the season for me," says Fortier. "I'm stoked with the result for a race at this time of the year. I had a good start, but had a rough patch mid race. But I kept pushing through it and somehow made it to the line. It is exciting to race with the big names up front. I hope to have more opportunities in the near future. The season is young and there's a lot more to work on. It's great to see the level of Canadian Men raising and pushing each other. I could see Peter and Quinton not far behind and it's a good motivation to help our nation."
It was beginning to look like Schurter might never catch his legendary French rival, with a pandemic-shortened 2020 season and numerous near misses in 2021. The very technical Petropolis course through the Brazilian rainforest was suited to Schurter's bike handling skills, and he spent the first half of the seven lap race following other riders in the strength-sapping heat and humidity.
Ondrej Cink (Kross Orlen) set the early fast pace that stretched out the field, with Schurter and hometown favourite Henrique Avancini (Cannondale Factory) on his wheel. Cink started to fade by the third lap and the lead group was down to five a lap later - Schurter, Dascalu, Marotte, Avancini and Friday's short track winner, Alan Hatherly (Cannondale Factory). The two Cannondale riders were dropped by the end of the lap under the relentless pace, leaving the final three at the front.
Marotte and Dascalu took turns setting the pace while Schurter was content to sit on their wheels. Marotte was dropped at one point by the other two in the last lap and a half, but fought his way back, as Schurter finally took charge on the last lap, leading up the climbs but unable to shake either of his rivals. On the final short, sharp climb before the descent to the finish, Schurter looked to be in charge, but as Dascalu faded, Marotte surged into the lead, with a slight gap into the descent. It looked like Schurter would be denied again, but on the final 100 metre flat run-in to the finish line he managed to chase down and catch Marotte, finally filling the hole in his palmares.
Afterwards, he was overcome with emotion, waving away interviewers as he wept. "It took me three years to get this World Cup victory, my 33rd. To do it in front of such a nice crowd and in such a tight battle with Maxime ... I almost lost again in the last metres, but I didn't give up. It's a sweet one, yeah."
"This was one of my last big goals, to catch up with Julien in World Cup wins, and now we have both 33, and that's quite nice. I think to do it now, after the last two years, it is good for the sport and on this new track in Brazil is awesome. For sure I had doubts sometimes - I'm not getting younger - so it's nice that I can still win races at my age."
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