Nino Schurter val di sole world cup xco cross country
Nino Schurter and Gerhard Kerschbaumer face off at UCI XCO World Cup in Val di Sole, Italy. Image: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool

After dropping Round 1 of the 2018 World Cup series to Sam Gaze in Stellenbosch, South Africa, Nino Schurter seems well on his way to starting his next streak of World Cup wins. Racing on a special 30th Anniversary edition full suspension Scott, painted to match the company’s original race bikes, Schurter rode to a third straight win at the Val di Sole cross country race on Sunday.

Val di Sole World Cup Schurter
Schurter finished Val di Sole with a short gap back to Gerhard Kerschbaumer. Image: Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool

Schurter’s loss in South Africa came after an undefeated 2017 season, where the Swiss star won Absa Cape Epic, every World Cup round and world championships in a streak that extended all the way back to a gold medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

RELATED: Emily Batty shines with silver medal in Val di Sole World Cup XCO

In Val di Sole, the Scott-SRAM rider seemed intent on establishing control of the race right from the gun. Schurter continued pushing the pace until he was alone at the front of the race, building up a gap of almost a minute at one point in the race.

Val di Sole World Cup XCO van der Poel Nino Schurter
Mathieu Van Der Poel briefly led Nino Schurter at UCI XCO World Cup in Val di Sole, Italy Image: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool

A chase group slowly began to close down Schurter’s as the race entered it’s second half, but could not manage to complete the catch. Racing at home in front of a home crowd, Italian cross country national champion Gerhard Kerschbaumer (Torpado Gabogas) was the only rider who could bridge up to Schurter.

Gerhard Kerschbaumer briefly led Nino Schurter at  UCI XCO World Cup in Val di Sole, Italy. Image: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool

Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon Circus) separated himself from the remaining chasers to sit alone in third. The Dutch cyclocross star has won two of the three Short Track XCC events this season and landed several podiums, and incredible performance for his second season racing cross country. He has not yet been able to hold on to the front of a World Cup. While not losing any ground in the latter laps, van der Poel couldn’t close the gap to the two leaders.

RELATED: Results: Under-23 cross country World Cup Val di Sole

With a loss in a sprint to Sam Gaze (Specialized) and a close call in Nove Mesto against Anton Cooper (Trek Factory Racing) where Schurter prevailed by the width of a front tire, the Scott-SRAM rider was not waiting around to test his luck with a third sprint. Schurter attacked relentlessly throughout the final lap, opening up enough of a gap to Kerschbaumer that the Italian conceded the victory as Schurter entered the final straight to revel in his own fantastic result to the wild cheers of the home crowd.

Canadians at World Cup Val di Sole

There were five Canadian’s contesting the elite Men’s race in Val di Sole on Sunday. The group struggled with the course, one of the least technical on the World Cup circuit. The bad luck started when Raphaël Gagné (OMX Pro Team) was caught in a crash on the start loop, pushing him from mid-pack to the very back of the 115 rider field. Gagné was able to fight back to finish 62nd by the finish.

Léandre Bouchard (KMC-Ekoi-SR Suntour) was the top Canadian in the race, placing 55th in Val di Sole. After Gagné, Peter Disera (Norco Factory Team) was 78th, Andrew L’Esperance (Team Canada / Forward Racing-Norco) and Alexandre Vialle 104th.

World Cup cross country racing continues on 13-15 July in Vallnord, Andorra.

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