Mr. Consistent Jordan Sarrou (Team BMC) rode a tactical masterclass to best Nino Schurter (Scott SRAM MTB Racing Team) in a sprint finish in the XCO race at the Snowshoe round of the MTB World Cup. The French rider was the 2020 World Champion but had never won a World Cup XCO race – until Sunday.
- U23 World Champion Charlie Aldridge (Cannondale Factory Racing) was the fastest off the line, and Luca Schwarzbauer (Canyon CLLCTV) positioned himself well by using the tech zone lane to move up through the field into third wheel.
- Friday’s short track winner Victor Koretzky (Specialized Factory Racing), Alan Hatherly (Cannondale Factory Racing), Sarrou, and European Champion Vlad Dascalu (Trek Factory Racing) made the early lead group, though separation was difficult to gain for the first half of the race.
- At the start of the second lap, Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) moved himself up to fifth wheel. KMC’s Martins Blums would ride into the top five as well the following lap.
- Pidcock moved into the lead heading into the technical descent during the fourth lap, and Koretzky and Sarrou followed to open a gap on the next climb. However, a front flat tire set Pidcock back by more than 10 seconds.
- The Ineos rider rode back into the top 10 after receiving a spare wheel but was forced to stop again in the next tech zone after an additional puncture.
- Schwarzbauer and Sarrou led the lap, and a mistake from Schurter during a slick, technical climb gave the leading duo a few seconds’ advantage.
- Snowshoe’s knives came out again when Schwarzbauer suffered a puncture, leaving Sarrou in the lead alone. Sarrou had 18 seconds on the chasers, but the likes of Koretzky, Schurter, and Flückiger were giving chase, joined by Blums, Thomas Griot (Canyon), and Marcel Guerrini (BIXS).
- After a long pull from Guerrini, Schurter attacked on the final steep pitch before the finish. However, Sarrou stuck on his wheel and slipped by on the flat section just before the final left-hander to the finish and won the sprint by a few bike lengths.
- Guerrini placed third, Flückiger fourth, and Pidcock fifth.
The race was a tactical masterclass from Sarrou, who has stood on countless World Cup podiums but never won a race outside of his Worlds victory a few years ago. The French rider’s consistency near the front of races paid off when he suddenly gained the lead due to Schwarzbauer’s misfortune. Then he played the finale perfectly, knowing he had to come out of the final corner in the lead in order to win the sprint.
Why were there so many punctures? That’s anybody’s guess, but my hunch is that the mud in the technical sections covered the rocks, making it impossible to spot the sharp edges lurking beneath the rider’s tires.
The race was certainly a ‘what could have been’ scenario for Pidcock, who rode back to fifth after his two punctures. It’s hard to think that the World Champion would have been beaten with legs like that.
With tight pack racing and numerous lead changes, Snowshoe was the most dynamic race this year. Next week in Mont-Sainte-Anne will bring sharper climbs and even more technical sections, and the weather forecast is pointing to another mudder (as it was last year) to send off the 2023 World Cup season.
- Jordan Sarrou (Team BMC)
- Nino Schurter (Scott-SRAM MTB Racing Team)
- Marcel Guerrini (BIXS Performance Race Team)
- Mathias Flückiger (Thömus Maxon)
- Thomas Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers)
- Martins Blums (KMC MTB Racing Team)
- Thomas Griot (Canyon CLLCTV)
- Alan Hatherly (Cannondale Factory Racing)
- Filippo Colombo (Scott-SRAM MTB Racing Team)
- Victor Koretzky (Specialized Factory Racing)
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