Nove Mesto, in the Czech Republic, always produces exciting racing, and this year was no different for the third round of the 2014 Cross-country World Cup, held under almost perfect weather conditions, in front of almost 20,000 spectators. Nino Schurter (Scott-Odlo) finally ended the unusual dry spell that had kept him off the top step of the podium this year, taking his third victory at Nove Mesto.
The men's race was expected to be a showdown between Julien Absalon (BMC), winner of the first two rounds, and world champion Schurter, who flatted in the first round and skipped the second for a stint on the road. Schurter threw the gauntlet down by attacking immediately, and was in the lead by the first lap. A chase group containing Absalon, Martin Fanger (BMC), Jaroslav Kulhavy (Specialized Racing XC), Jose Hermida (Multivan Merida), Florian Vogel (Scott-Odlo) and Andrea Tiberi (Tropix-FRM).
The group gradually thinned, with local favourite Kulhavy well in the mix until he flatted, only to run into chain problems after getting a fresh wheel in the pits, and eventually dropping out. Only Fanger was able to bridge across to Schurter, with the two riding together until Fanger flatted on the fifth lap, leaving Schurter alone in the lead, which he held to the finish.
Stephane Tempier (BH-Suntour-KMC) steadily worked his way up to claim second, with German champion Moritz Milatz (BMC) taking third. Australian champion Dan McConnell (Trek Factory Racing) outsprinted Absalon to take fourth.
"Nove Mesto is an awesome place," commented Shurter. "The spectators are so cool here. It is a really nice atmosphere to race here. I always come with a good feeling to this race. "My plan was to start fast because Absalon is always struggling a bit at the start. I had a good start, I went from the beginning in the front. Mid-race I was not feeling that good, but then Martin Fanger flatted and I was again alone in the lead, and I just gave my best. Luckily I made it to the finish. I'm very happy abut my third victory here."
All of this was done aboard a SCOTT Spark 700 RC, making it Nino's first ever World Cup victory on a full suspension MTB.