End of season mtb racing overview

Fuglsang alone ahead of the U23 field

With last week's World Championships and this weekend's World Cup final, the elite cross-country and 4X racing seasons are all but over with the downhill soon to follow. The World Championships offered very few surprises, with most of the top favorites all winning their races: Sam Hill defended his title in the downhill, Sabrina Jonnier too. Americans Brian Lopes and Jill Kintner won the 4X titles again without too much fuss.

In the cross-country, Julien Absalon became the first to win four straight rainbow jerseys, beating the old record of three set by Henrik Djernis in the 90's. For the women's race, Irina Kalentieva of Russia was the most likely to win in this season without Gunn-Rita Dahle and she performed as expected. Only the U23 category treated us with some surprises. Defending champion Ren Chengyuan was beaten by her chinese compatriot Liu Ying but the most surprising and the racer that seemed the happiest to win from all week was Denmark's Jakob Fuglsang who beat heavily favored and defending champion Nino Schurter from Switzerland by a good margin. Good for him.

New Zealand women get my best outfit award, modeled here by Rosara Joseph

Notes: former DH World Champion Greg Minnaar from South Africa finished 4th despite starting with a taped dislocated shoulder, crashing in his final run, re-dislocating it and because it was taped so tightly, also suffered a fracture of his scapula. Local favorite Steve Peat started with a banged up foot, but wasn't as Superhuman as Greg. Also impressive was Fabien Barrel who missed most of the season due to injuries and still finished second on one of his first rides in a long time. These downhill guys are tough!

Steve Peat's foot. He still raced, probably after a few shots of his own whiskey

Also worth noting, mr. Mountain Biking himself, Swiss Thomas Frischknecht was racing in his 17th World Championships and finished a distant 30th, his worst result ever. He then announced he would retire at the end of next season.

Kessiakoff having a fine end of the season: 4th last week, winner today

Now, today was the final of the World Cup for the cross-country riders. Ying Liu of China won ahead of Marie-Hélène Prémont. Newly crowned World Champion took the serie overall title, Prémont taking second overall too. In the men's race, a happy Sweden Champion Fredrik Kessiakoff won his first ever World Cup ahead of marathon World Champion Christoph Sauser. The overall was won by Julien Absalon who took it really easy today as the title was already locked for him before the race even started.

In 4X, Anneke Beerten took today's win and the overall, Romain Saladini took the men's race with Brian Lopes taking the overall. The downhill final race is tomorrow.

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