Swiss Vogel flies to World Cup win in Champery

Kulhavy, Schurter round out top three

Florian Vogel (Scott-Swisspower) won the fourth round of the Mountain Bike World Cup in Champery, Switzerland on Sunday ahead of Jaroslav Kulhavy and Nino Schurter.

"I knew it was important to be out in front on this course," said Vogel. "So I attacked very hard at the beginning. When Julien came up and then attacked, I was pretty concerned, but I could tell that he was struggling a bit in some of the more technical sections.

“I was most worried about Kulhavy, because he looked to be climbing very well, but then I could see he was actually more tired, so I knew that I had to make my chance on that final climb,” he added. “This is a very big win for me, only my second World Cup, and to win in Switzerland is very special."

The 4.3 kilometre circuit may have been short, but it was more than tough enough. After a 3.2 kilometre start loop spread out the field, the riders faced two difficult sections at opposite ends of the circuit. First, they had a very steep climb and then an immediate descent with a dropoff that launched them into the air for at least three metres. A ride-around was provided, but it was significantly slower.

From there the riders traversed the valley to the second, and main climb. At the top they dropped back into the woods for a long, muddy, singletrack descent full of roots and mud before heading into the start-finish area. Few riders could make it through a lap without running at least part of the circuit. The men were downgraded from seven to six laps, plus a start loop.

The race saw a split happen on the start loop, with Vogel and defending Champéry champion Burry Stander (Specialized) gaining 10 seconds on Schurter, who was closely followed by Sergio Mantecon Gutierrez (Trek-Lorca), Kulhavy and World Cup leader Julien Absalon (Orbea).

Absalon bridged up to the two leaders on the first lap and set a blistering pace, eventually dropping first Stander and then Vogel. Absalon began to pull away in the middle part of the race, opening a gap of over 20 seconds on Vogel, with Stander struggling to hold onto third from the chase behind. Schurter was having difficulties with a broken saddle mid-race and had to stop in the pit on the third lap to change it, falling back to fifth.

Late in the fourth lap Absalon flatted, losing most of his advantage over Vogel, which seemed to re-energize the Swiss rider just as his rival was beginning to fade. The race was coming back together at the front, with Kulhavy joining Vogel in the lead on lap five and Schurter and the lead U23 rider, Flückiger, racing for third. Absalon had faded to fifth, and was in danger of getting caught by Stander.

The front duo gradually opened a gap on Schurter and Flückiger through the final lap, and then Vogel launched a massive attack on the last climb, cresting the top nine seconds in front and extending it to 11 seconds by the line. Schurter was closing on Kulhavy in the last half lap, but it wasn't enough, and he came in for third, 24 seconds behind the Czech rider. Flückiger took fourth - and the U23 title - followed by Absalon.

For full race reports and results, go to

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