Schurter extends his legend with victory at the XCO World Cup in Val di Sole
Schurter wins the XCO World Cup of Val di Sole thanks to an uncontestable pace. The Swiss writes a new line in the history of the sport with his 35th victory in the competition. Fluckiger, who had been a bit of a dark horse during the first part of the race, was second, while Dascalu debuted his European champion's jersey with a third place.
Schurter delivers a spectacular performance for his sixth victory in Val di Sole
The clouds of Val di Sole timidly covered the sun shortly before the start of the race. An incident had to be reported at the start involving Carod and Koretzky, who were left in the last positions. At the front, it was Hatherly who took the lead, although Schwarzbauer took the spotlight from him shortly after to close the start loop in first position.
The German gave way to a Schurter who came hungry to avenge the discreet role he played two weeks ago in Leogang. The pace imposed from the very first stages quickly led to the formation of the leading group: Schurter, Gaze, Schwarzbauer and Hatherly.
The quartet pushed their bikes harder than anyone else and opened up a 15-second gap on the large battalion behind led by Blums, Sarrou, Dubau and Albin.
Gaze took the lead and the four of them finished the lap 17 seconds ahead of the rest. With still a long race ahead, it was perhaps time to stay together to try to widen the gap on the chasers and save some strength for later.
But Schurter had other plans and decided to move: change of pace to open a gap of 5 seconds with Gaze and Schwarzbauer, while Hatherly stayed with them but gave a little. Even so, the South African rebounded and with apparent freshness caught up with Schurter while the other pair was 13 seconds behind.
Hatherly took the lead and forced Schurter to demand more watts from his quads. The Swiss rider complied and stayed on his wheel. Schwarzbauer and Gaze were in no man's land 19 seconds behind.
Schwarzbauer was left alone in the tough task of closing the gap to the leaders when Gaze lost steam and was chased by the huge line behind.
The riders headed into the halfway point of the race with Schurter and Hatherly in the lead. Both were riding without attack as the gap to Schwarzbauer had already grown to 27 seconds. The group gradually gained on the German until they were able to catch him.
Shortly after the start of the fourth lap Schurter broke away to open a gap of no less than 11 seconds on Hatherly. Behind Fluckiger was the one who had more pace, forced the group to stretch out and went solo.
Schurter extended his lead to 24 seconds on the descent leading into the finish straight. Penultimate lap. Fluckiger and Hatherly worked together for a while, before the Swiss rider got away from the Cannondale Factory Team rider. Schurter led with authority and no one was able to oppose his victory.
Last lap. Schurter first with a 41-second lead. A new actor entered the scene after climbing several positions: Vlad Dascalu, brand new European Champion, wanted to debut the continental jersey in style. The Romanian's objective increased as the race went on until he set his sights on the challenge of finishing in the top three when he overtook Dubau.
Dascalu, Hatherly or Dubau. Dascalu's move to attack and undo any chance of a reply for Hatherly, who for a long time had been wearing an expression that showed the effort he had undergone in the first part of the race.
Schurter enjoyed the last part of the lap -with a wheelie included- and showed that this is one of the circuits that best suits him. The Swiss reached the finish line and wrote one more line in his long list of victories; in particular, Nino won his 35th World Cup race. And to top it off, he did it with a level that was unreachable today.
Fluckiger came in behind him in second position. Dubau hooked onto Dascalu's wheel to put up a fight in a duel in which neither could afford to take any blows. The two went into the final straight together. The Romanian took the lead and managed to hold on for the third place.
Results XCO World Cup Val di Sole 2023 - Men's
- Nino Schurter 1:20'22"
- Mathias Fluckiger +26"
- Vlad Dascalu +38"
- Joshua Dubau +38"
- Alan Hatherly +52"
- Maxime Marotte +1'
- David Valero +1'15"
- Jordan Sarrou +1'27"
- Lars Forster +1'38"
- Martins Blums +1'40"