Following a silver at London 2012, and a bronze in Beijing four years earlier, Switzerland’s Nino Schurter finally ended his quest for Olympic gold, as he won the men’s mountain bike cross-country race, outsprinting defending champion Jaroslav Kulhavy of the Czech Republic. Spain’s Carlos Coloma edged out France’s Maxim Marotte for the bronze.
The 30-year-old Schurter, who has five world titles to his name, was locked in a close contest with Kulhavy until midway through the fifth lap, but then raced clear in the final five kilometres. “I felt very good and very strong throughout the entire race,” said the Swiss, who crossed the line in one hour 33 mins 18 seconds, a full 50 seconds clear of his Czech rival.
It was a reversal of the 2012 Games, where Kulhavý had outsprinted Schurter in the final 500m to win his gold. Clearly the Swiss was determined to ensure history did not repeat itself.
“Everything went to plan,” he added. “In the end, I was able to ride alone, and get safely to the finish line. If I am looking back, I needed silver in London to get back and be strong here. For me, it’s the perfect story. I have bronze in Beijing, silver in London, and now gold in Rio.”
Defending champion Kulhavy felt that the race had been particularly exacting: “The downhills were much more difficult today. It was a different race in London, but today, I was with Nino again. I’m very happy for both of us. Nino is the strongest rider this year.”
Coloma was pleased to make the podium after competing against such a high-class field. “I knew it would be very complicated with such a high level of riders in this race. It’s like a dream come true for me. I knew that I was capable of doing it and I’m proud, not only for myself, but for all of Spain.”
It was a bad day at the office for France’s two-time champion Julian Absalom of, who had been expected to challenge for medals again, but ended up finishing back in eighth.