The stage was set for the historic victory more than a year ago when Nino Schurter (Scott-SRAM) won the opening round of the 2022 World Cup series in Brazil, matching Julien Absalon’s record of 33 wins. However, Schurter would go winless at subsequent World Cups that season, missing out on a possible victory at his home race in Lenzerheide when he and compatriot Mathias Fluckiger (Thömus maxon) collided with each other just before the finish.
This victory then, is a capstone moment for a rider who has been at the top of the sport for more than a decade. Here’s how the race unfolded.
The perpetually powerful Luca Schwarzbauer (Canyon CLLCTV) led out the start lap followed by Schurter, Jordan Sarrou (Team BMC), Flückiger and Vital Albin (Thömus maxon). Daniele Braidot (CS Carabinieri), Anton Cooper (Trek Factory Racing), and Alan Hatherly (Cannondale Factory Racing) were also in the mix.
Schurter wasted no time as the race headed into its second lap of seven, coming to the front and pushing the pace. Former world champion Sarrou, 2021 World Cup overall winner Flückiger, and World Cup winner Braidot all made the elite selection behind Schurter, with Hatherly dangling just off the back.
The group looked to be staying together, but a front wheel washout from Braidot gave Schurter and Flückiger a small advantage.
The tension between the two Swissmen cut through the electric atmosphere in lakeside Lenzerheide a year on from that race-spoiling crash. Schurter claimed that Flückiger was at fault at the time, and anyone watching will remember the icy exchange the rivals shared at the finish line.
Schurter extinguished those demons when he attacked and immediately gained seven seconds on his rivals.
Flückiger only went backwards from that point on, unable to match the high pace. Sarrou took up the solo chase for second, and Hatherly, Thomas Griot (Canyon CLLCTV), and Sam Gaze (Alpecin-Deceuninck) were all in the fight for a podium position.
The second chase group caught Sarrou, with Hatherly sprinting ahead to take second, 15 seconds behind Schurter.
Now the most prolific World Cup racer in history, an Olympic champion, a 10-time world champion, and a multiple World Cup overall champion, there’s not much – if anything – more for Schurter to win. In a post-race interview, he hinted at possible retirement at the end of the year.
“I was really looking forward to this, to this race, to race one last time here in Lenzerheide,” Schurter told broadcast cameras. “It was already quite emotional for me to know probably it’s going to be my last race here.”
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