Nino Schurter had a historic start to his World Cup season in Brazil on Sunday. The Swiss star outduelled Maxime Marotte in a sensational sprint finish to claim his 33rd career World Cup victory. With that win, Schurter finally, after being stuck at 32 wins for three years, matches the record set by his early-career rival Julien Absalon.
It was an emotional moment for the reigning world champion. Schurter had to pause in his post-race interview, barely able to find the words to respond when asked what the win meant to him.
“It took three years to get this 33rd World Cup victory,” Schurter finally said. “It’s even better in front of such a great crowd in Brazil and after a good battle with Marotte. I lost it again in the last meters, but I got it back. It’s a sweet victory.
Canadians in Brazil
Gunnar Holmgren (Pivot Cycles-OTE) led the Canadian results in the elite men’s race. His 25th place Sunday continues the Ontario-based rider’s very strong 2022 season. After Marc-Andre Fortier (PivotCycles-OTE) posted a solid result in Friday’s XCC World Cup, the Quebec rider started off the XCO by riding in the low-20 positions. Fortier ended up in 33rd.
The Disera brothers were the next across the line. Peter led, in 37th, with his brother Quinton in 42nd, both for Norco Factory Racing. Sean Fincham was 52nd after being caught in a crash off the start. Victor Verreault (Foresco Holdings ProCo RL) in 72nd, Malcom Barton in 80th and Raphael Auclair in 81st round out the Canadian results.
After fast early-season results, national champion Léandre Bouchard (Foresco Holdings ProCo RL) crashed in practice on Friday and had to sit out the weekend.
Schurter makes history again: How it happened
While Nino Schurter (Scott-SRAM) made headlines Sunday, he wasn’t the rider this weekend’s narrative was expected to play out around. Henrique Avancini (Cannondale Factory Racing) was racing at home in Brazil on a track he helped build with his father. With Schurter looking at a two-year World Cup win drought and Avancini motivated by the home crowd, all eyes were on the Cannondale rider in Petrópolis.
Off the start, it was U.S. rider Christopher Blevins (Specialized) taking the hole shot. The short track world champion was quickly passed but stayed in the lead group for the first half of the race.
Instead, it was Ondrej Cink (Kross Orlean) taking up the lead, but with Avancini close behind. The Brazilian quickly moved through the field to sit second as the lead group passed the finish line concluding the first of seven laps. Schurter, Vlad Dascalu (Trek Factory Racing) and Maxime Marotte (Santa Cruz FSA) and several others were present.
Absent at the front of the race was Mathias Fluckiger (Thomus Maxun). The 2021 World Cup overall winner had clearly crashed, with the right side of his body covered in mud as he fought back through the field.
Fast five whittles down to three
A the mid-point of the race, the lead group was reduced to five riders. Alan Hatherly and Avancini made for two Cannondale Factory Racing athletes, with Schurter, Dascalu and Marotte joining.
The two Cannondale’s started to trail off, fighting to maintain contact with what quickly became a leading trio. Dascalu set pace with Schurter always closely marking his speed. Marotte looked to be struggling, occasionally dropping a handful of seconds back.
Halfway through the final lap, though, Schurter finally took to the front as the trio headed towards the finish line. A resurgent Marotte, chasing his career-first World Cup victory, made a late move to pass Schurter and take the lead into the final corner before the finish line.
The pair dropped down the steep ramp into the finish line with Schurter sprinting madly to made up ground to the Frenchman. Schurter surged, Marotte was unable to respond. Nino Schurter wins a historic 33rd World Cup.
The Swiss rider was elated, wearing the world champion’s jersey as he hoisted his Scott Spark above his head for a roaring Brazilian crowd. After three years stuck at 32, Schurter finally matches Absalon’s record.
Vlad Dascalu crossed line third, an impressive result from the young Romanian. Avancini, visibly suffering for the last two laps, crossed the line 13th to massive cheers from his Brazilian fans.
Schurter matches Absalon
While Nino Schurter has many victories to his name, including nine world championship titles, an Olympic gold and 32 other World Cup wins, this one clearly held special meaning. The Swiss rider had to pause to regain composure before answering questions after the finish line.
“In the past two years, we’ve had almost no spectators and now there’s a huge crowd here,” said Schurter, with the Brazilian crowd cheering in response. “We work hard for our goals and it’s one of my last big objectives to actually keep up with Absalon’s World Cup wins.”
When asked if he questioned if the 33rd win would ever come and whether he will go for more, the Swiss rider paid respect to his long-time rival.
“For sure you have doubts some time, I’m not getting any younger,” said Schurter adding, about Absalon, “He’s hard to beat. He was hard to beat when we raced together and it is hard to beat his record. I will work hard and hopefully go for another one.”
For Marotte, Schurter’s historic win was another close call. The French rider ends up a bike length away from his first World Cup victory.
“I was so so close to the (first) win and today it is hard to take,” said Marotte. “Nino was stronger obviously, but I truly believed I could make it. This is part of the game. I will not give up.”
Results: Elite men – 2022 XCO World Cup 1 (Petrópolis, Brazil)
SCHURTER Nino (SCOTT-SRAM MTB RACING TEAM)
MAROTTE Maxime (SANTA CRUZ FSA MTB PRO TEAM)
DASCALU Vlad (TREK FACTORY RACING XC)
CARSTENSEN Sebastian Fini (KMC – ORBEA)
COLOMBO Filippo (BMC MTB RACING)
DE FROIDMONT Pierre (KMC – ORBEA)
BRAIDOT Luca (SANTA CRUZ FSA MTB PRO TEAM)
LITSCHER Thomas (KROSS ORLEN CYCLING TEAM)
HATHERLY Alan (CANNONDALE FACTORY RACING)
CINK Ondrej (KROSS ORLEN CYCLING TEAM)
ULLOA AREVALO Jose Gerardo (MASSI-BEAUMES DE VENISE)
CAROD Titouan (BMC MTB RACING)
AVANCINI Henrique (CANNONDALE FACTORY RACING)
FLÜCKIGER Mathias (THÖMUS MAXON)
COOPER Anton (TREK FACTORY RACING XC)
PHILIPP Antoine (GIANT FACTORY OFF – ROAD TEAM)
DUBAU Joshua (ROCKRIDER RACING TEAM)
BLEVINS Christopher (SPECIALIZED FACTORY RACING)
KERSCHBAUMER Gerhard (SPECIALIZED FACTORY RACING)
RODRIGUEZ GUEDE Pablo (BH TEMPLO CAFÉS UCC)
WAWAK Bartlomiej (KROSS ORLEN CYCLING TEAM) Lap 7
n°9 9, 11:54, 13:02, 13:33, 13:12, 13:09, 13:11, 12:38
INDERGAND Reto (GIANT FACTORY OFF-ROAD TEAM)
HOLMGREN Gunnar (PIVOT CYCLES – OTE)
FORTIER Marc Andre (PIVOT CYCLES – OTE)
DISERA Peter (NORCO FACTORY TEAM)
FINCHAM Sean (NORCO FACTORY TEAM)
VERREAULT Victor (FORESCO HOLDING PROCO RL PRO TEAM)
BARTON Malcolm Lap 4
AUCLAIR Raphael (PIVOT CYCLES – OTE) Lap 4