By Sue George, Cyclingnews.com

Friday, June 20, 2008 4.19pm

Swiss dominate again

Switzerland proved its strength by placing three of its riders in the top four in the under 23 men's cross country race on Friday afternoon.

Riding a physically and tactically strong race, Nino Schurter (Switzerland) won the World Championship. South Africa's Burry Stander put in a strong bid for the title, but after using up all his energy getting rid of eventual third placed Matthias Flückiger (Switzerland) and fourth placed Fabian Giger (Switzerland), he didn't have enough left over for Schurter.

"It was a big fight with Burry, but I had a big advantage with a Swiss mate behind us," said Schurter. Nonetheless he wasn't sure of his chances until closer to the end of the six-lap race.

"It wasn't until the last two laps that I realized that I could make it my race," he added. "I was scared at the beginning because I had a problem with my chain. But I had a really good day and felt like I could beat Stander. I tried a few attacks to see if Stander could follow, and I realized he was having problems."

Schurter patiently waited until Stander wore himself out driving the pace while successfully keeping the two chasers away.

"I didn't attack. I rode my own speed on the long climb and got a gap," said Schurter, whose winning move came at the end of the penultimate lap. He crossed the line at one lap to go with a 24 second gap that only grew for the duration of the race. At the end, Schurter won in a time of 1:44:34.

"The last lap was really hard. My tactic was going to be to attack on the last lap, but I didn't have to. I was alone the last 1.5 laps. I was good to win my last year as an U23," said Schurter, who is no stranger to the podium. He won the U23 world title in 2006 in New Zealand, but was upset last year by Jakob Fuglsang, who finished second.

For full results, report and photos, visit Cyclingnews.com.

U23 MEN CROSS COUNTRY RESULTS

1 Nino Schurter (Switzerland) 1:44:34
2 Burry Stander (South Africa) 0:00:41
3 Matthias Flückiger (Switzerland) 0:03:46
4 Fabian Giger (Switzerland) 0:04:54
5 Stéphane Tempier (France) 0:05:55
6 Dario Alejandro Gasco (Argentina) 0:08:26
7 Raphael Gagne (Canada) 0:08:46
8 Frank Beemer (Netherlands) 0:09:00
9 Pascal Meyer (Switzerland) 0:09:22
10 Robert Gehbauer (Austria) 0:09:50

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