Team Gold and 5 Elite riders in the Top Ten
MTB World Champs Lenzerheide
What a start in Lenzerheide! The Swiss Relay Team with Filippo Colombo (BMC MTB Racing Team) and Jolanda Neff (Kross Racing Team) took the first World Championships title in front of Germany (with Elisabeth Brandau) and Denmark.
As tradition, the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships started with the Team Relay; an event where five riders – one Junior man, one U23 woman, one U23 man, an Elite woman and an Elite man – compete together as one team. Each rider must complete one lap of the cross-country course before giving the relay to the next rider. To add a bit of spice, it is up to each team to decide the start order of their riders.
Switzerland decided to start with Filippo Colombo, their U23 rider and current Swiss National Champion, and Jolanda Neff, defending World Champion, European and Swiss Champion. The Ticinese completed his lap in fourth place and gave the relay to Alexandre Balmer, his Junior team mate. Sina Frei, Jolanda Neff and Nino Schurter followed in that order and contributed to the victory of the team for the greatest delight of an impressive crowd.
“The Team Relay is the event where you race for your nation, not for yourself; and it’s always a great pleasure and honor to be part of the team. Winning as a team is great and it’s simply amazing to win on home soil” Colombo said.
It is the second Team Relay World Championships title for Filippo Colombo and Jolanda Neff (Cairns 2017 and Lenzerheide 2018).
According to experts, the World Championships in Lenzerheide, Switzerland may well have been the biggest cross-country race ever. Riding at the forefront, Titouan Carod (BMC MTB Racing Team) enjoyed the great atmosphere and took a solid seventh place in the men’s Elite race as Jofre Cullel did before in the U23 race.
Reigning World Champion and local rider Nino Schurter was the big favorite of the biggest race of the season. No less than 25’000 people were packed around the rooty course and cheering for him and the rest of the colorful field. He took the race in his own hands from the start and didn’t let much chance to his opponents. Gerhard Kerschbaumer was the only rider one able to follow the extremely high pace and both rode away from the rest of the field to never be caught again.
Behind them a group of six riders including Titouan Carod and Thomas Litscher (The jb BRUNEX Felt Team) took shape and fought for the bronze medal. Mathieu Van der Poel was best at this game and completed the podium. Titouan Carod finished seventh. “I had good legs” he said “but the race was brutal. We rode at our limits from the start to finish and I left it all there. I don’t think I’ve ever dug as deep as I did today. I am happy with the way I rode and enjoyed every minute of the race; the bike – he was riding the new BMC Fourstroke – was so much fun to ride and the crowd was amazing. Chapeau Lenzerheide!”
Last year’s bronze medalist Thomas Litscher finished 10th. In the women’s Elite race there were even 3 WINFORCE athletes placing themselves among the Top 10 of the World – with Jolanda Neff (4th), Elisabeth Brandau (8th) and Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå (9th)! The Norwegian "Queen of Mountain Bike" will have another chance to fight for the rainbow jersey next Saturday at the Marathon World Championships in Auronzo di Cadori.
Source : BMC MTB Racing Team
Picture : Phil Gale