The Czech Republic’s Jaroslav Kulhavy today showed the large and enthusiastic crowd in Champéry who is the boss of cross-country: after winning five out of seven rounds of this year’s World Cup he confirmed his current superiority in the discipline by becoming World Champion.
The rain that started to fall early on in the race did nothing to dampen the spirits of the Czech rider, who was determined to go for gold after his silver medal at last year’s Worlds in Mont-Sainte-Anne. He rode to victory in front of Switzerland’s Nino Schurter, who delighted his home crowd with his silver medal performance. Double Olympic Champion and four-times World Champion Julien Absalon (FRA) took the bronze medal, with last year’s World Champion, José Antonio Hermida Ramos (ESP) coming in fourth.
The four top men’s performances confirm their results in this year’s UCI World Cup, where the final podium was exactly the same.
Kulhavy’s new World title comes after that of Juniors World Champion in 2003 in Lugano, a bronze medal in the U-23 in 2007 and last year’s silver.
Nino Schurter put pressure on his rivals from the beginning, and with four laps to go, only Kulhavy, Hermida and Absalon were still with him. One lap later, Hermida and Absalon had dropped off the pace and the battle for gold was between the Swiss and the Czech. However, when Kulhavy decided to make his move in the penultimate lap, it was clear that only a mishap was going to deprive him of the World title. He eventually crossed the line 47 seconds ahead of Schurter, and 1m26 ahead of Absalon.
Great Britain’s Danny Hart gave a masterful demonstration of what downhill racing is all about as he careered down Champéry’s track undeterred by the torrential rain and treacherous conditions that graced the last day of racing at the UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships.
At just 20 years old, the young but incredibly powerful young athlete put on a technical performance that belied his age and earned him the title of World Champion. In front of a delighted crowd, Danny Hart set off at full speed, never losing control of his bike, even on sections that had seen veteran riders slip and slide off course.
He cut more than 11 seconds off the time set by Damien Spagnolo (FRA) who had waited in the hot seat during 10 riders before being relegated by Hart, who was bronze medalist as a Junior at the 2009 Worlds in Canberra.
The three remaining starters could do nothing to match the performance of the young British rider. The only one who looked like getting close was the last rider of the day Aaron Gwin. The 2011 World Cup winner was less than a second off Hart at the first intermediate time, but his hopes were dashed by two falls. Spagnolo remained in second place to take the silver medal, with bronze going to Samuel Blenkinsop (NZL).