Daily News Digest: Soler wins Paris-Nice, Schurter’s World Cup streak ends

by Matt de Neef

March 12, 2018

In today’s edition of the CT Daily News Digest: Soler wins chaotic Paris-Nice as De la Cruz takes final-stage victory; Yates wins Stage 5 at Tirreno-Adriatico, Kwiatkowski moves into race lead; Amy Pieters wins the Ronde van Drenthe; Hayato Okamoto takes Tour de Taiwan lead after stage 1; Nino Schurter’s XCO World Cup streak comes to an end; Langvad on top after Ferrand-Prevot’s mechanical in South Africa; Tom Dumoulin forced out of Tirreno-Adriatico; Doctor who claimed to have supplied drugs to 150 elite sportspeople is struck off; Obree returns to the windtunnel: How fast were his classic TT positions?; Behind the wheel of the Astana team bus.

Nino Schurter’s XCO World Cup streak comes to an end

by Neal Rogers

New Zealander Sam Gaze (Specialized) took the biggest victory of his career Saturday in Stellenbosch, South Africa, beating world and Olympic champion Nino Schurter (Scott-SRAM) in a two-up sprint to register the first World Cup XCO victory of 2018. It was the first time Schurter had been beaten at a World Cup XCO race since September 2016, when he punctured out of the lead. Frenchman Maxime Marotte (Cannondale Factory Racing) finished third, just two seconds back, with cyclocross star Mathieu Van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) in fourth, 1:10 down.

Gaze, a two-time U23 world champion, was seeded 28th and did not have a strong start position yet he quickly reached the front of the race and matched the world champion, countering several late-race attacks from the Swiss star. As the laps ticked down it looked increasingly likely that it would come down to a sprint finish, and with Marotte trailing closely behind, there was no time for the two leaders to play games.

As the seventh and final lap came to a close, Schurter — who won all six XCO World Cups plus the world title in 2017 — slipped a pedal in the frenetic sprint for the line. Still, the world champion congratulated Gaze on his breakthrough performance.

“Sam had not the best starting position and still made it to the front of the race in no time,” Schurter said. “That was when I knew it was going to be a tough one against this talented rider. I felt strong and tried several times to drop him, but he was racing at a very high level and showed his teeth all race long. Just when I thought I had him, I un-clicked from my pedal and the win slipped away. I’m a bit disappointed to lose a World Cup this way, but give all my respect to the winner for such a superb performance. He deserves the win.”

Gaze, 22, was so spent that he collapsed at the finish line, overcome with cramps. “It’s a dream come true,” he said. “I grew up idolising guys like Nino. You always dream you can do it and it is a beautiful moment when you finally do it. I started to cramp up with a lap and a half to go and I put on a poker face. I got closer to the finish and knew I had to be in front to have the advantage in the sprint.”

Photo: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool