After a bit of a late start leaving Chatel in the morning, Matt Scoles and I decided we would head over and check out the XC. Unfortunately we arrived a little late to catch the women’s round where Rosara Joseph stomped a solid 27th place and Samara Sheppard, in her first ever World Cup race scored a respectable 65th (out of a starting field of 99 riders). We quickly made a beeline for a section we’d heard about that contained a couple of steep rooty switchbacks and then a two-foot step down. When we got there, a lot of serious practice was going down with only ONE person (Nino Shurter) cleaning the switchbacks, pretty much everyone was sending the drop which was impressive to see, but some definitely were a lot more confident (and less sketchy) than others. We didn’t really move from here (mainly because it was so entertaining), and combined with an injured Cam Cole and Amy Laird’s raucous cheering we gave most of the riders a bit of friendly encouragement. 14th ranked Florian Vogel took the win followed by Czech Jaroslav Kulhavy, Nino Schurter in third, Justin Leov’s Trek World Racing teammate Mathias Fluckiger in fourth and Julien Absalon rounded off the podium in fifth.
So we saw first hand that Dirk had the skills but unfortunately was surrounded by Euro muppets who kept getting in his way. Here Dirk shows his over-the-bars passing technique. Dirk finished 101st out of the 149 strong field.
Florian Vogel sends the step down on his way to the top spot on the XC podium
South African Burry Stander looked on form, cleaning the switchbacks all but once during the race and stomping the drop with ease. He missed the podium by a 20th of a second, consider that payback for that headbutt in the AB's vs South Africa game a few weeks back.
21st place Geoff Kabush earned our respect by rocking what looked to be at least 700mm bars (may have even been 710mm), nose manualing the switchbacks in his race run and sending the drop with style every time.
Christoph Sauser started 7th on the grid and finished 7th, but that dude can ride, seriously. Victor Lucas knows it too, that's the legendary MTB photographer over there on the right.
J Lo's teammate Mathias Fluckiger (wearing the under 23 leaders jersey) rode to an awesome fourth place.
Coming off a reasonably successful Downieville race, all rounder Adam Craig probably had the best style on the step down, landing bolts every time well down the tranny. Finishing in 14th style matters.
How to ride the switchbacks with Nino and Julien.
If you didn't do the drop you were gone. Nino Schurter knew that and rode it every time.