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Olympic Mountain Biking 2016: Men's Cross-Country Medal Winners, Times, Results

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistAugust 21, 2016

Cyclists, Marco Aurelio Fontana of Italy (7), Victor Koretzky of France (5), Daniel McConnell of Austria (11) and Nino Schurter of Switzerland (3) lead at the start of the men's cross-country cycling mountain bike race at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Associated Press

Switzerland's Nino Schurter won mountain biking gold in the men's cross-country final at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday. The current world champion added the Olympic crown after a late attack helped him pull away from London 2012 winner Jaroslav Kulhavy of the Czech Republic. 

The two led the way for long portions of the race, as some of the biggest names in the field struggled.

Slovakia's Peter Sagan ran into disaster when a front-tyre puncture took him from third to out of the leading mix. While misfortune slowed Sagan, France's Julien Absalon battled hard but couldn't stay with the leaders in his last race before retirement.

Here are the results and medal winners from the day's race:

2016 Olympic Mountain Biking Men's Cross-Country: Medal Winners
PlaceRiderTime
GoldNino Schurter (SUI)1:33:28
SilverJaroslav Kulhavy (CZE)1:34:18
BronzeCarlos Coloma (ESP)1:34:51
4Maxime Marotte (FRA)1:35:01
5Jhonnatan Botero (COL)1:35:44
6Mattias Fluckiger (SUI)1:35:52
7Luca Braidot (ITA)1:36:25
8Julien Absalon (FRA)1:36:43
Rio216.com

For the full results, visit the Rio 2016 official site.

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Recap

A flat front tyre just over five kilometres into the race left Sagan frustrated. He was already struggling somewhat in third place.

Unfortunately for the Slovakian rider, although the problem occurred early enough for him to stage a strong comeback, he couldn't make up enough ground. His delay allowed Schurter to stretch the lead, with Kulhavy joining the front at the Rio rocks.

An early puncture ruined Sagan's day.
An early puncture ruined Sagan's day.PASCAL GUYOT/Getty Images

The race soon became a direct rivalry between Schurter and Kulhavy. Conspicuous by his absence was Schurter's usual foe, Absalon. The Frenchman was labouring further back as Schurter and Kulhavy worked the front.

Spaniard Carlos Coloma Nicolas soon tried to interject himself into the mix, but he couldn't maintain his pace ahead of the long mountain climb at the Coconut Beach section. 

There were signs of a comeback from Absalon, as he battled to make up ground on the outside. He was slightly over one minute behind Kulhavy on the descent toward the Rio rocks.

Absalon couldn't chase down the leaders.
Absalon couldn't chase down the leaders.PASCAL GUYOT/Getty Images

Further back, the arduous course had claimed another victim when Portugal's David Rosa saw his bike ruined when the back wheel was bent out of shape.

Meanwhile, Absalon was struggling to make up ground on the two leaders and first chaser Coloma. So it was still Schurter and Kulhavy at the front as the final four laps approached.

Sarah Connolly of ProWomensCycling.com detailed how the overall pace was lagging as the race entered its latter stage:

Sarah Connolly 🚲 @PWCycling

Lap 4 was the slowest yet - end lap 4 of 7, over halfway now! #CyclingMountainBike https://t.co/bLsbTxqLJt

Kulhavy started to push, as Schurter looked like he was losing some speed through the technical sections. Absalon was also still pushing, but he couldn't get near the top chasers in the heavy conditions.

Among those chasers, France's Maxime Marotte joined Coloma. The pair chased hard, but the leaders kept on finding something extra to stretch their lead.

Schurter's main concern was when to try to power away from Kulhavy, knowing how the Czech Republic rider could sprint away from him in a close race to the line, the way he did in London four years ago.

Yet Hannah Dobson of Singletrack Magazine felt she could see hints of a drop from Kulhavy:

Hannah Dobson @1fishonabike

Kulhavy now carrying a bottle. Suffering a bit? Don't think he had one earlier. #CyclingMountainBike

It looked that way when Schurter finally sprinted away from Kulhavy. His bold and well-timed attack opened a decisive gap. It was one Kulhavy couldn't make up, as Schurter was just too good on the day.

Meanwhile, the battle for bronze was finally settled when Coloma made his own late attack to grab the medal and leave Marotte frustrated.

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