Saturday was a day that proved beyond a doubt the dominance of a nation, as well as of a single family.
All of the elite men’s world championship medals were awarded to riders from the strongest nation in the world in elite men’s cross-country mountain bike racing. Two of those three medals were awarded to members of the same Swiss family, the Flückiger brothers.
When Lukas Flückiger was awarded the world championship silver medal and Mathias Flückiger took the bronze, the pair made history as the first siblings to podium in the same world championship mountain bike race.
“This is a great dream to have my wife and all my family here to see me and Math on the podium,” said the silver medalist after the race.
The Swiss have had so many strong riders in this year’s international circuit that the Flückiger brothers were not selected from the talented Swiss pool to race at Hadleigh Farm in the London Games. In stead, Saturday’s winner Nino Schurter, Florian Vogel and Ralph Näf were nominated for the maximum number of Olympic slots awarded to any nation.
The Flückiger brothers trailed Switzerland’s Olympic nominees in the World Cup standings, but finishing 10th in the World Cup still put Lukas Flückiger well above most of the Olympic field.
Before the world championship race, Singletrack.com asked American Sam Schultz who his pick was for the 2012 world champion, and he replied, “Lukas Flückiger. He has been riding super fast lately and after sitting out of the Olympics he seems like he really has something to prove.”
Point taken, Luk.
His strategy for the race was to start in front and then hold a steady pace in the middle and leave enough in the tank to finish strong.
“I think it was right for me,” he reflected after the race, “because I had more power at the end of the race and could come back. I’m always stronger at the end of the race.” Indeed, his fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh laps were all faster than Schurter’s.
“I wasn’t focused on the results today,” Lukas Flückiger claimed Saturday. “I was focused on me and putting the hammer down.”
It was the ride of the season for both brothers, but especially Mathias, who finished the World Cup in 18th place without any World Cup podiums. “I had a difficult start to the season and was for a long time in a low point,” he recalled. “These past few months I’ve gotten better and better and now I’m finishing this season really well.
“It’s just incredible. It’s such a nice feeling.”
Emily spent her infancy in the back of a women’s team van while the team built wheels around her. She spent part of her pre-teen years in Europe following the major European mountain, road and gravity races and touring cycling product factories. College was the first time she lived in a home without a frame building shop in her garage or basement. Her favorite style of riding is getting lost in singletrack trail networks and taking her time finding her way back.