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Nino Schurter And Jenny Rissveds Take Olympic MTB Gold

Nino puts the hammer down and comes away with the Gold. Flicker Commons

First, lets get the Peter Sagan discussion done. We were all tantalized by his presence—the most popular man in road biking, the World Cup champ, former junior MTB champ, 3-stage winner in the 2016 Tour de France, and green shirt champ—decides he wants to race Olympic MTB. He’s certainly got the conditioning, the power and he’s a great technical rider. But could he hang at this level?

He worked his way from the last, 50th place, start to third (THIRD!) after about 2 minutes into the race, and held that spot for a respectable lap before suffering a front wheel flat and string of mechanicals that took him out. He’s a big man and landing a bit harder on the front wheel on the extreme rocky bits and not being able to hold traction on the muddy climbs was more about not competing in this sport on a regular basis than anything else. I’d love to see him back at some point.

The much-hyped Schurter/Absalon duel never quite materialized. Though the frighteningly strong Jaroslav Kulhavý, 2012 gold medal winner and 2015 World Cup runner-up, brought his A game and traded punches with Schurter for 5 laps. Kulhavý kept it close into the 6th lap, when Nino (SUI) decided he’d had enough and put the hammer down, dropping Kulhavý 35 seconds in that one lap and masterfully finishing the race with some of the most beautiful XC riding of the year.

After his strong start, I was hoping Italy’s Marco Fontana would be in the mix. At the last Olympics he finished 3rd because his saddle broke off (yes, he finished the last few laps all standing). He also suffered a front wheel flat and couldn’t quite get back in it afterwards.

Carlos Coloma Nicolas of Spain and Maxime Marotte of France actually provided an AWESOME race for the bronze medal, punching and counter-punching their way through the latter laps until Coloma Nicolas pulled away for the Bronze in the second half of the last lap.

Overall, the course was fantastic and the rain the night before provided some serious technical drama on the already difficult descents, and made the ups emotional black holes for all but the toughest riders. Full replay here. Great to see the entire course packed with fans.


Future superstar Jenny Rissveds hoists her winning bike. Flickr Creative Commons photo.

The women’s race took place on Saturday in the dry, which made for some fast racing with the youngest rider in the field Jenny Rissveds of Sweden taking home the Gold.

Going into this race, the hype was all about two riders most likely to battle for the win - Jolana Neff of Switzerland and Denmark’s Annika Langvald. Langvald unfortunately flatted on the third lap and couldn’t make her way back, finishing 11th, and Neff seemed to be in it through much of the race but ran out of gas on the second to last lap, and passed by the main chase and contenders.

Mja Wloszczowska, hanging with Rissveds for much of the race, grabs silver. Flikcr Creative Commons photo

The fight for the bronze was super interesting as it involved two Canadian teammates, Catharine Pendrel, winner of the most recent World Cup race at Mt. St. Anne, and Emily Batty, also with World Cup podiums to her credit. Pendrel overcame an early crash and ended up in front of Batty by just 2 seconds. Great to see these two back in it after Batty crashed right before the London games, breaking collarbone and ribs and Pendrel having a disappointing race.

Catharine Pendrel celebrates her Bronze. 

Gold and Silver was a fight between Mja Wloszczowska, 2008 Silver medalist from Poland and Jenny Rissveds. Rissveds finally out gunning and out lasting Wloszczowska to finish 37 seconds in front. Looks like the 22 year old Rissveds, who can still race Juniors if she’s so inclined, will be a force to be reckoned with in women’s cycling over the next several years. Full replay here.

About The Author

stash member Gunnar Waldman

Editor-at-Large, IMBA instructor and east-coaster. Raced Trans-Savoie in France, SoCal Enduro and Endurance in Temecula and is psyched for all the great new races in the east. Article Ideas: