Cairns, Australia. It's quite a ways to travel for a 90 minute mountain bike race. With the change in time zones and climate, plus shipping all the equipment, this is a logistically difficult and expensive journey. This is why you better get something out of it. And this is exactly what SCOTT-Odlo MTB Racing did.
N1NO whippin’ it to a 18th World Cup win! ©Photography: Sven Martin
N1NO's winning streak has continued into the 2016/2017 World Cup Season- his method hasn't changed. This means getting out of the start block like a missile, putting his contenders on the defensive early on, controlling the race and then increasing the pace in the last few laps. It sounds pretty simple, but this takes an athlete in top shape. And in top shape Nino certainly was. To his fortune, his biggest rival, Julien Absalon, flatted in lap one and seemed to be out of contention. But the man with the most World Cup wins fought his way back into the race in a way only a great champion can do.N1NO's SCOTT Spark 700 came in handy on the technical track with heavy drops and jumps.
This doesn't mean there was no competition aside from Absalon. Swiss rider Mathias Flückiger challenged the World Champion not only on the climbs, but also put the pressure on Nino on the long descent by taking a lot of risk. The track was very well built and had some tricky sections in it that caused a lot of flat tires. Absalon was by far not the only one slowed down by a mechanical. Aussie Dan McConnell dropped out the lead group with a flat. French Maxime Marotte stayed with the Swiss Schurter/Flückiger train for 2/3 of the race. After that he lost contact, but never was far behind the leaders riding in 3rd place."This win is not only a great way to start the World Cup season, it also makes me hungry for more when we come back for World Championships next year." - Nino Schurter
The last two laps were the most exciting. N1NO attacked and left Flückiger behind. The Absalon train pulled in from behind catching up time on the leader. This also forced Marotte to speed up. Both French riders passed Flückiger in the finale and at the finish line the winning World Champion had a 3 second gap on Marotte and 27 seconds on Absalon. Who knows the outcome without Absalon's flat?
The happy winner confessed: "On a course like this luck has to be on your side. And today it definitely was on my side. This win is not only a great way to start the World Cup season, it also makes me hungry for more when we come back for World Championships next year."
This victory is also one for Sram- it's the first World Cup win on a 12 speed Eagle drivetrain.