Absalon Undefeated at Offenburg
Oakley’s Julien Absalon (Orbea) seized the lead of the cross-country Nissan UCI Mountain Bike World Cup on Sunday after winning round two of the series in Offenburg, Germany.
It was Absalon’s 18th World Cup victory – a record that tops the 17 wins scored by Thomas Frischknecht – and leaves him undefeated at Offenburg.
The huge men’s field – more than 220 riders – took more than a minute to roll through the start-finish area after completing the start loop and heading out onto the main course for the first of seven laps. By that time, a sizable group of heavy hitters was already pulling away from the rest of the field.
Among the group were Absalon, World Cup leader Jose Hermida (Multivan Merida), world champion Christoph Sauser (Specialized), U23 World Cup leader Burry Stander (Specialized), Oakley’s Florian Vogel (Scott-Swisspower), Lukas Fluckiger (Trek World Racing), Oakley’s Nino Schurter (Scott-Swisspower), Roel Paulissen (Cannondale) and Jean-Christophe Peraud (Massi). Also making the split were Oakley’s Todd Wells (Specialized), Marco Fontana (Cannondale), Jaroslav Kulhavy (Rubena-Specialized) and Martin Gujan (Cannondale Factory Racing).
Absalon counterattacked a move by Schurter on the longest climb, quickly gaining 25 seconds on the disorganized chase. The Olympic champion continued to open up his lead through the fourth lap, as the chase started to shed riders. Among the first to go was Hermida, who came to the race with a bad cold. Wells flatted and eventually abandoned.
On lap five, Sauser broke away from the rest of the group, taking only his teammate Stander with him. The duo quickly took 20 seconds on the rest of the chasers, but made no dent in Absalon’s lead, and the effort failed after Sauser crashed hard in one of the technical sections and had to abandon with a broken frame.
Stander continued on in second, but was steadily being reeled in by Wolfram Kurschat (Topeak Ergon) and Peraud. The pair caught and dropped Stander in the final kilometers to take second and third behind Absalon, with the South African holding on for fourth, and the top U23 result. Ralph NÃ¤f (Multivan Merida) capped an impressive ride up from midfield to take the final podium spot.