Meribel, France - The last race of the season in the French Savoy Alp's was unfortunately overshadowed by the first fatal accident in UCI World Cup history, with 20 year old XC racer Annefleur Kalvenhaar succombing to injuries after a crash in the Eliminator qualifiers. No doubt that all the athletes performed differently under such circumstances. Nino Schurter's demonstration of power and his fourth World Cup victory in 2014 lightened up our minds a little bit.
Nino Schurter continues to dominate cross-country racing in a way we haven't seen before. His amount of World Cup wins is 14 now- he has never completed three victorys in only one month only. Maybe it would be too much to say that this is the best Nino Schurter we have seen so far. However, it is for sure the most complete Nino Schurter weve seen in these past few years. Explosive at the start, powerful on the climbs and superb on the descents. This leaves his competitors with no room to attack.
The story of the race is told in a few words. With a tremendous fast first lap Nino got an advantage of 12 seconds over his followers and from then on controlled the race from the front. World Cup leader Julien Absalon was fighting to stay with Nino from the beginning, closing the gap in the third of seven laps down to 9 seconds. But the advantage of Nino's 27.5" full suspension Spark always gave the World Champion 15 seconds back on the descent.- a strategy we have already seen at the Windham World Cup. Manage to keep a minimum lead on the climbs and take full profit of a super fast bike on the descent.
Not only was the Dutch athlete who passed away on Saturday a racing friend of Jenny Rissveds, but Annefleur Kalvenhaar crashed right in front of Jenny's. The U23 women rider from team Focus' crashed to her head leading to related injuries that would sadly prove to be fatal a day later in the hospital in Grenoble. It's the first loss of a cross-country athlete in the 24 years of world cup racing. The accident happened in a location that was not considered to be dangerous at all. This shock went deep into all of the hearts of mountain bike racers along with it's community. Naturally, there werre mixed emotions for the U23 racers at the start line. Their thoughts where all with Annefleur. Rest in peace.
Another SCOTT athlete belonged to the dominating rising stars of the 2014 season: Margot Moschetti of Team SCOTT-La Clusaz. Margot finished the race in Meribel in 6th and got 4th in overal U23 XCO category. We are all looking forward to seeing her next year again even stronger.
12 World Cup Wins for Nino! The battle between the two best mountain bikers in the world continues. This time it was Nino Schurter's turn, with Nino grabbing his 12th World Cup victory!