PIETERMARITZBURG, South Africa (AFP) – Julie Bresset of France and Nino Schurter defended their rainbow jerseys on Saturday in the world mountain bike championships here.
Olympic and world champion Bresset won the women’s cross country by just five seconds over runner-up Maja Wloszczowska of Poland and more than a minute up on third-placed Esther Süss of Switzerland.
Lea Davison was the top American, finishing ninth at 3:41.
The race was a two-woman battle for the most part, with neither Bresset nor Wloszczowska able to gain much advantage until Bresset finally took a gap on the final technical descent.
“In such a technical course, you have to be in front,” Bresset said. “The race ended in a duel with Maja. I first stayed behind … in the technical sections, I looked where she was going, and at the end, I gave everything to be in front.”
In the men’s race, Schurter took off early and stayed out front to win by seven seconds over German Manuel Fumic with Jose Antonio Hermida of Spain taking third at 21 seconds.
Stephen Ettinger was the top American, crossing 23rd at 5:06.
Schurter said he expected Julien Absalon to be his main rival, but the two-time Olympic champion never figured in the contest and finished sixth, some 90 seconds behind.
“I pushed very hard from the beginning … and I was alone in the lead,” Schurter said. “I managed my race at my own pace, never letting them put me in the red zone.”