Associated Press

Peter Sagan suffers disastrous day in Olympic MTB after bright start

Sagan suffered a puncture after the beginning of the second lap of the course in Rio, as Nino Schurter took gold

Peter Sagan Suffers Disastrous Day In Olympic MTB After Bright Start

Peter Sagan mountain biking. Credit: Tinkoff

In a typically magnificent display Nino Schurter (SUI) took gold in the Rio Olympics1 cross-country racing after an unexpectedly prolonged cat-and-mouse battle with Jarolslav Kulhavy (CZE). Peter Sagan2 (SVK) however, suffered a disastrous day after an early puncture scuppered his chances. Schurter completes the full set of Olympic medals. He now has a bronze, a silver and a gold medal.

How did Peter Sagan get on?

Road racing world champion3 Peter Sagan had a blistering start and for the whole of the first lap Sagan was in the top three. Unfortunately at the start of the second lap Sagan suffered from a front wheel puncture presumably caused by one of the rocky descents.

Racers aren t allowed any external help outside of the pit area which Sagan had only just passed through. So Sagan had to complete almost all of the second lap with a flat front tyre. Carrying his bike down and up a great many sections. It will remain one of the great what-ifs of Olympic mountain biking. What if Sagan hadn t punctured? But, then again, he punctured.

And not-puncturing is part of being a good mountain bike racer. To his credit Sagan did not pull out of the race, he continued until Schurter had crossed the line in first place at which point all other racers have to stop riding on whatever lap they re on.

Settling old scores

Schurter s victory is especially sweet for the racer as it comes after London 2012 where Schurter was pipped at the post by Kulhavy in a finish line sprint. An Olympic gold was something of a glaring omission in Schurter s palmares. He more than anyone was aware that you can t really be considered among the XC MTB legends without an Olympic gold. Although the sport has only been in the Olympics since Atlanta in 1996 it quickly became THE race to win.

In a similar way to the previous day s women s race, the winning racer waited until the sixth lap before laying down the hammer and quickly opening up an unassailable gap over the rider behind. Third place was taken by Spain s Carlos Coloma Nicolas who won out in a real ding-dong battle with 4th place Maxime Marotte (FRA).

>>> What can roadies learn from mountain bikers?4

17th for Great Britain s Grant Ferguson

Great Britain s wildcard late-entry Grant Ferguson5 put in a very credible performance and finished in 17th spot a highly respectable result. Grant Ferguson said: I kind of wanted a top ten and I went for that at the start and then I just had to find my own rhythm to get the most out of myself.

I did my best out there.

We d practised the course all week and it has been dry and dusty, so it completely changed overnight. I had a little look before we started and I could tell it was going to be slippery. Then on lap one there were people everywhere and it was carnage. I had to try and pick a line through it and not make any mistakes to move up as well as I could.

Once we got going you got to know what the lines were and where the grip was and you could carry a lot more speed.

Punctures are the nature of mountain biking and equipment. Everyone runs light stuff because it s a one day race and they take a risk. I saw people everywhere having problems but I was trying to look after myself.

We ve got a World Cup next week to finish the season and then I ll have a bit of a break. It s my first year at the elite level, so I ve got quite a few years ahead of me. I ll just look to improve and develop.

I ve really enjoyed my Olympic experience. It s really cool to be part of the squad, being in the village with the atmosphere.

Obviously I was all focussed on this event and it s on the last day, so I ve been looking forward to it for a long time.

I knew the wait to compete was coming, so I didn t come into the village for the whole two weeks otherwise I d have been a bit stir crazy. So I came here with a week to go and prepared for my race. Julien Absalon (FRA) didn t really put in the performance that we all hoped he might do. He clearly found the course tough and paired up with fellow countrymen Marotte for a bit. Absalon eventually finished in eighth position. Absalon is now due to retire from elite racing he s earned it!

>>> Dr Hutch: The Olympic Games infects a nation with sporting pride6

How the race unfolded

For the first half the race the racing was frenetic and ever-changing. The lead spot exchanged hands several times. At various points Marco Fontana (ITA), Luca Braidot (ITA), Jaroslav Kulhavy (CZE) and Schurter (SUI) were in the lead position. This was not the usual World Cup sight of Schurter getting to the front and staying there.

Looking back at the race now it looks like the whole thing went down according to Nino s gameplan. He looked awesome but only racing at 95%. Quite happy to be tucked in behind Kulhavy. Quite happy to style it up over the jumps for the photographers. Quite happy to sit behind Kulhavy and casually spend some time inspecting different line choices for forthcoming laps.

Schurter must have been thinking back to London 20127 though, where Kulhavy did for him right at the finish line in a last gap sprint. Schurter was happy to let Kulhavy for most of the race but was clearly not going to let him go into the final lap with anything remotely resembling a chance of a similar victory to London 2012. We have no confirmation yet but to our eyes it looked like Kulhavy s rear tyre was softer than it should be for the penultimate lap. Did Kulhavy have a slight puncture that tubeless sealant took a while to heal resulting in a soft tyre? Or was just our imagination?

For the last half of the race it was a tale of two battles. One for gold and another, 30-odd seconds behind, for bronze. The bronze medal went all the way to the last half of the final lap where Coloma Nicolas attacked and Maxime Marotte has no response. It was towards the end of the penultimate sixth lap where Schurter opened up a significant gap over Kulhavy. Schurter very nearly overcooked it one point his rear wheel sliding out from under him on a slippy tree-covered descent but he rode it out and had no further such incidents.

Indeed this warning seemed to prompt Schurter to cool it down a bit and start to nurse it down some of the descents slightly. We say nurse , he was still flipping fast. From this point the race played out like pundits had expected it to from the start. Schurter cranking it out, looking smooth and stylish. He knew he had an unassailable lead over Kulhavy.

All he had to do was avoid crashing or a mechanical. And avoid trouble he did. Schurter full of smiles as he glided around the final section of lap seven. Nino Schurter no longer has that gap in trophy room. A hugely deserved Olympic win.

He was the best mountain biker out there today.

Men s Olympic cross-country mountain biking results

1. Nino Schurter (SUI), in 1:33:28
2. Jaroslav Kulhavy (CZE) 1:34:18
3. Carlos Coloma Nicolas (ESP) 1:34:51
4. Maxime Marotte (FRA) 1:35:01
5. Jhonnatan Botero Villegas (COL) 1:35:44
6. Mathias Fluckiger (SUI) 1:35:52
7. Luca Braidot (ITA) 1:36:25
8. Julien Absalon (FRA) 1:36:43
9.

David Valero Serrano (ESP) 1:37:00
10.

Victor Koretzky (FRA) 1:37:27

Others

17.

Grant Ferguson (GBR) 1:39:10
Peter Sagan (SVK) at 1 lap

References

  1. ^ Rio Olympics (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  2. ^ Peter Sagan (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  3. ^ Road racing world champion (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  4. ^ >>> What can roadies learn from mountain bikers? (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  5. ^ wildcard late-entry Grant Ferguson (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  6. ^ >>> Dr Hutch: The Olympic Games infects a nation with sporting pride (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  7. ^ back to London 2012 (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)

Pope condemns Mali hotel attack ahead of Africa visit

Pope Condemns Mali Hotel Attack Ahead Of Africa Visit

Soldiers at the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, Mali (AP)

Francis leaves on Wednesday for a six-day trip to Kenya, Uganda and Central African Republic

Pope Francis has condemned the attack by extremists in a Mali hotel that killed at least 19 people as he prepares to visit three African nations. The Vatican secretary of state said in a telegram on Sunday to the Archbishop of Bamoko, Mgr Jean Zerbo, that the Pope is appalled by this senseless violence, which he strongly condemns . The Pope leaves on Wednesday for a six-day trip to Kenya, Uganda and Central African Republic1. During his weekly Angelus blessing, he asked the faithful in St Peter s Square to pray for peace and prosperity in these countries.

Due to security concerns, the Pope s chief bodyguard is doing an unusual last-minute visit to conflict-wrecked Central African Republic. Vatican spokesman Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi said the Vatican is going ahead with the Pope s busy programme in the capital city Bangui, which includes a visit to the main mosque, attending an inter-faith meeting with Catholic, Evangelical and Muslim representatives, celebrating Mass and going to an evening prayer vigil. He added the Paris attacks hadn t changed the itinerary. Nevertheless, Francis s bodyguard, Domenico Giani, is leaving early for Bangui to survey the security situation, and will only join the papal delegation once the Pope arrives in Nairobi on Wednesday for the start of the visit, Fr Lombardi said.

We re following the situation, and will take decisions that can be necessary if there s something unforeseen or unusual, Fr Lombardi said.

But we re going ahead with the plan, which includes the Central African Republic.

He said the Pope firmly believes that he can contribute to the pacification of the country, and encourage dialogue between Christians and Muslims, with his presence, his words and his prayers.

Pope Condemns Mali Hotel Attack Ahead Of Africa Visit

Pope Condemns Mali Hotel Attack Ahead Of Africa Visit

References

  1. ^ a six-day trip to Kenya, Uganda and Central African Republic (www.catholicherald.co.uk)

Esteban Chaves wins Abu Dhabi stage three after Wout Poels crashes on final corner

Colombian takes overall lead after stage win which saw the Sky rider Poels crash shortly before the finish

Esteban Chaves Wins Abu Dhabi Stage Three After Wout Poels Crashes On Final Corner

Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) took the overall lead in the Abu Dhabi Tour1 after riding to victory on the summit finish of stage two, riding past a stricken Wout Poels (Sky) who had crashed on the final bend. The Colombian made a solo move on the finishing climb of Jebel Hafeet with around 4km to go to the summit of the 8.6km climb from a group of elite climbers. The race had severely broken up as it hit the climb on another hot day in the Middle East, and only Fabio Aru (Astana) and Poels were able to make a chase in earnest to chase down the diminutive Chaves after he had dropped Vincenzo Nibali (Astana).

The Italian Vuelta a Espa a winner Aru2 eventually began to fade, but Dutchman Poels was able to bridge the gap to Chaves with just over 1km to go. The two then rode together for a short while, but Poels looked to be the stronger as he made a move in the final few hundred metres with the gradient shallowing. Poels lead into the final tight left-hander to the line, and although victory wasn t guaranteed, his chances completely disappeared as he slid out and crashed.

Chaves was able navigate his way round the incident and rolls across the line, as the grounded Poels attempted to get up and make second. Problems with his bike meant he couldn t pedal though, and Aru eventually caught up and went round him to take second, with Poels limping home to third. Chaves now looks to have the overall classification sewn up going into Sunday s flat stage on the Yas Marina circuit3, with a 16 second gap over Aru and 27 second gap over third placed Poels.

Esteban Chaves Wins Abu Dhabi Stage Three After Wout Poels Crashes On Final Corner

Esteban Chaves wins stage two of the Abu Dhabi Tour (Watson)

Result

Abu Dhabi Tour 2015, stage three: Al Ain to Jabel Hafeet, 140km

1. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEdge, in 3-38-04
2. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana, at 12 secs
3. Wouter Poels (Ned) Sky, at 21 secs
4. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida, at 31 secs
5. Janez Brajkovic (Slo) United Health Care, st
6. Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx Quick Step, at 1-19
7. Aljeandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar
8. Leopold Konig (Cze) Sky
9.

Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, all same time
10. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar, at 1-30

Overall classification after stage three

1. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEdge, in 10-51-12
2. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana, at 16 secs
3. Wouter Poels (Ned) Sky, at 27 secs
4. Janez Brajkovic (Slo) United Health Care, at 41 secs
5. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida, st
6. Leopold Konig (Cze) Sky, at 1-29
7. Aljeandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar
8.

Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, all same time
9.

Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx Quick Step, all same time
10.

Patrick Konrad (Aus) Bora Argon 18, at 1-40

References

  1. ^ Abu Dhabi locals help Theo Bos find his team after leaving hospital (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  2. ^ Fabio Aru wins 2015 Vuelta a Espa a as Degenkolb takes final stage in Madrid (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  3. ^ Abu Dhabi Tour 2015: What you need to know (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)