2009’s Best of the Best: It Takes Teamwork

  • By
  • Published Dec. 28, 2009
  • Updated Oct. 11, 2012 at 5:01 PM EDT


It could be argued that cross-country mountain bike racing, even on the highest of levels, is a singular sport. On the other hand, a look at the 2009 mountain bike world championships saw the Swiss duo of Nino Schurter and Florian Vogel hammer away at French strongman Julien Absalon, allowing Schurter to win the rainbow jersey. And what could spawn more success than a collection of talented riders under one banner? It would be difficult to argue that the Subaru-Gary Fisher mountain bike team hasn’t found some sort of equation for success. Read on…

North American Team of the Year: Subaru-Gary Fisher

Sam Schultz, Willow Koerber, Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski and Heather Irmiger of the Subaru-Gary Fisher Mountain Bike Team.

The absolute top North American mountain bikers don’t ride for Subaru-Gary Fisher, but as a whole, men and women combined, this team is the best on the continent. Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski regularly bumps elbows with the best in the world, and although 209 wasn’t his best World Cup season, he still won two national championships. His teammate Sam Schultz rode better than ever, and on the women’s side, JHK’s wife Heather Irmiger also doubled up on stars and stripes jerseys, on her way to her best World Cup season ever. Willow Koerber bounced back from 2008’s Olympic selection effort to earn a bronze medal at the world championships, and ended the season 12th in the UCI world ranking.

Best Day of Racing: Men’s World Cross-Country Championship

Nino Schurter wins the rainbow jersey over a dejected Julien Absalon. Photo by Frank Bodenmuller

The track at Canberra, Australia, had it all: insanely technical descents, tactical flats, windy sections and spectacular video coverage. Geoff Kabush led out the first lap of the race, stoking up all of the North American spectators, but after he fell victim to a mechanical, the Swiss made the race a show worth watching. First, reigning under 23-world champion Nino Schurter traded blows with Julien Absalon to barely pull out a small but significant gap to win in the final meters of the race. Then fans were treated to a dual for third lace that was every bit as epic. Again, a Swiss racer, this time Florian Vogel, visibly used all his strength to just hold off Spain’s Jose Antonio Hermida in a sprint. All four of these racers left it all out there on the course and most of their tenacity and suffering was caught on camera. It was a good race, but more than that it was a great show to watch.

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