Swiss Nino Schurter upstaged four-time world and reigning Olympic champion Julien Absalon of France in a tight finish to the men's cross country at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Canberra, Australia on Saturday.
Schurter, 23, prevailed by just three seconds over the Frenchman in the most exciting cross country event of the week in the 45.29-kilometre event at Stromlo Forest Park in the national capital.
Fellow Swiss Florian Vogel captured the bronze in a photo finish from Spain's Jose Antonio Hermida Ramos, with both finishing on the same time -- 58 seconds behind Schurter.
Schurter, who last year claimed gold in the under-23 event, said he didn't think he could win the gold from his more experienced rival.
"I've had such a bad season but now with this race it's a dream come true," Schurter said. "It's an amazing feeling, the perfect race, perfect course for me. It was very technical and that suits me.
"The whole race I was thinking just to try to stay on his back wheel and race for silver, never thinking I could take the win but at the last feed zone I attacked and got away."
Absalon, who has won four World Cup events this year, said he was up against it having led most of the race against the Swiss pair and even though he expected Schurter to try and break away he couldn't respond.
"I was not in a good position," Absalon said. "I led and I did most of the race in front," Absalon said. "This track is fast and it was not possible to get away with the wind, it was hard and the Swiss riders proved that they are the strongest nation together.
"I was expecting the attack in the feed zone (from Schurter) but not as strong."
Russian Irina Kalentieva overcame a disastrous start in the 32.35km women's elite cross country event to claim her nation's first gold medal of the world championships.
Kalentieva, 31, was forced to stop on the first lap after a technical problem that dropped her back to 21st place.
She eventually finished just 13 seconds ahead of silver medallist Lene Byberg of Norway.
American Willow Koerber claimed the bronze a further 39 seconds behind.
Kalentieva said she used the early mishap as motivation throughout the rest of the race.
"It was unbelievable, I was in first place and then on the downhill section my chain broke and I had to spend over a minute fixing it," Kalentieva said. "I think it gave me more concentration and gave me more strength because it is not something that should happen at the world championships."
© AFP 2009
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