Jenny Rissveds showed from the start there was no doubt who is going to be the biggest contender for this win. Technically smooth on the jumps and rock gardens, fast on the climbs, she rode to a solid start-finish victory.
"I can't ask for more than starting the season with such a success. The team put high hopes in me and I really wanted to give something back. Proud about my first XC World Cup win and the confidence is there to show some more in the upcoming race in Cairns, Australia." Jenny Rissveds – World Cup leader U23 SCOTT-Odlo MTB Racing Team
Flat Tire in leading position- but still finishing in 6th
From the start World Champion Nino Schurter seemed to control the elite race the way he wanted. At first together with his team mate Florian Vogel and the Cannondale duo Manuel Fumic and Marco Fontana. The World Champion- in Pietermaritzburg also known as the Rock Garden King- was on a clear mission: Continuing the wining strike in South Africa! Nino's biggest contender of last year- Julien Absalon- had a decent start, but closed the gap to the leaders within two laps. After Fontana (crash) and Vogel dropped back, there was a trio left at the front.
Half way trough the race it came down to a duel between the big stars of the scene. Absalon against Schurter. Absalon, Fumic and Schurter on different lines in the rock garden. Nino's view how the race unfolded: "At the beginning my legs did not feel great. Maybe they where not used to such high intensity after Cape Epic. But half way trough they got going and I started to feel a bit stronger than Julien! One and a half laps to go I tried to put Julien into the hurt box. After I got a 5 second gap on him I realized I got a flat rear tire. Unfortunately at a very bad spot where I had to ride the flat tire for almost 2 km. The hopes for the victory were gone within seconds. Well, loosing is something we do when we are not winning.
The luck is sometimes on your side, today luck was somewhere else. That's racing!" He dropped back to 7th place and managed to finish in 6th. Julien Absalon celebrated his 27th world cup victory (way 2 go Nino). Manuel Fumic and Maxime Marotte came in 2nd and 3rd. "The luck is sometimes on your side, today it was somewhere else. That's racing!" Nino Schurter, World Champion SCOTT-Odlo MTB Racing Team On his way to the tech zone with the flat tire, Nino cleared the rock garden on the same line as he usually took. Only few riders were able to take that fast but very demanding line. He did it with a flat! Thanks to an awesome carbon rim of DT Swiss, the wheel did barely take any damage.
Not in the lime light but yet with good performances we saw Florian Vogel riding a solid race to 11th place. Marcel Wildhaber had a tough day at the office riding in the dust all the time. He ended up in good 30th after a consistent ride throughout the race. In the U23 race Andri Frischknecht was held back by a mass crash at the start. Within two laps he went from 40th to 9th place but than had to pay for the effort dropping back again. His 12th place finish is his best world cup result in this category and will give him a better starting position in the upcoming races. Even with the bad luck of Nino all in all a good way for SCOTT-Odlo to start the world cup season.