Schurter and Ferrand-Prévot win UCI Mountain Bike World Championships (Again)

By Siegfried Mortkowitz

They say that nothing succeeds like success, and that’s also true in MTB racing. This was proven over the weekend when Swiss rider Nino Schurter won his 10th MTB World Championship and Pauline Ferrand-Prévot of France took her fourth world title.

The 36-year-old Schurter, who also won the title last year, rode away from a strong field to nip Spain’s David Valero Serrano by 9 seconds. Luca Braidot of Italy finished third, 29 seconds adrift. Prerace favourite Tom Pidcock of Britain, who won a stage in the Tour de France this year, committed two costly errors and finished fourth, at 1min 29sec.

Schurter won the 2022 title at the same venue, in Les Gets, France, where he won his first-ever world title, the junior MTB world championship, in 2004. “This place is magic for me,” he said. “I won my first title here and now again as the oldest rider ever and tenth title. It’s unbelievable.”

When Schurter attacked on lap 6, Serrano was the only rider able to keep up with him. The two rode side-by-side for a while on the last lap, but the Swiss rider gradually wore the Spaniard down.

Schurter said that his strategy had been to make the race as hard as possible for his rivals from the start. That certainly had an effect on Pidcock, who lost time in the same technical switchback section twice and had to stop to change his rear wheel on the next-to-last lap.

“It’s insane,” the winner exulted. “It’s unbelievable. I couldn’t believe when I crossed the finish that I did it again. It was a tough race.”

Pauline Ferrand-Prévot
Ferrand-Prévot in action. © Profimedia

Ferrand-Prévot’s win was more straightforward and came in front of her home fans, two days after she won the world short-track MTB title. She is the first rider to win both races during the same competition. She finished 1min 35sec in front of the Swiss Olympic gold-medal winner Jolanda Neff, with the 23-year-old American Haley Batten finishing third, 2min 13sec behind the winner.

“Right now I can’t realise because it’s like a dream,” Ferrand-Prévot said after the race. “I think it’s going to be a big party tonight.”

She took the lead on the first climb of the race and never relinquished it. Neff did manage to bridge the distance to the leader, but was soon left behind again and trailed by 22 seconds at the start of the second lap. Ferrand-Prévot went on to ride a faultless race and was not threatened again.

“It was a super hard race,” she said. “I made the choice to start with a hardtail bike because I knew I could go fast on the climb. It was a bit risky, but I wanted to go full gas from the start and try to make a gap. After that I adjusted and tried to go soft and clean on the downhill.”

The 30-year-old native of Reims is an accomplished multi-discipline rider who, in addition to her four MTB world titles, has also won a cyclo-cross world championship, in 2015, and the world road race and time trial championships, in 2014.