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The first elite cross-country titles of the 2013 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup presented by Shimano were awarded on Sunday in Albstadt, Germany, with Daniel McConnell (Trek Factory Racing) taking the men’s win.
The men’s seven lap race began after the rain had stopped, but the damage had been done, leaving the course so slick and treacherous in the downhills that one major jump was closed after a lap for safety reasons.
Julien Absalon (BMC), the two time Olympic champion, jumped immediately into the lead, setting the fastest laps times for laps two through four. The French rider, who holds the record for men’s World Cup wins at 25, looked to be well on his way to his 26th win, when he suffered a mechanical problem and was forced to drop out. Sergio Mantecon (Wild Wolf Trek) moved into the lead when Absalon retired, and looked to have the win, until McConnell began an incredible surge.
The Australian champion, who had only one top-20 World Cup result previously, started the last lap in sixth place, 29 seconds behind Mantecon. He steadily picked up places on the first long climb of the lap to move into second before the second climb, and then took the lead after the final descent to the finish. With his victory, McConnell became the first Australian man to win a cross-country World Cup since Cadel Evans in 2000.
“I did not expect this,” admitted McConnell. “I came into this looking for a solid top-15, so it’s unbelievable. On the climb I made contact with the group of second through fifth, and then moved into second through the feedzone. I could see Sergio in front of me, and at that stage just gave it everything, and caught him through the grass section at the bottom of the descent. I got into the last corner with a little bit of a gap and nothing was going to get past me at that point, I was running on adrenalin.”