Men’s mounting biking preview: a rivalry for the ages – Nino Schurter vs. Julien Absalon

Nino Schurter

Odds:
Nino Schurter (SUI) – 1/1
Julien Absalon (FRA) – 9/4
Peter Sagan (SVK) – 15/2
Jaroslav Kulhavy (CZE) – 10/1
Maxime Marotte (FRA) – 12/1
Ondřej Cink (CZE) – 16/1
Mathias Flückiger (SUI) – 22/1
Marco Aurelio Fontana (ITA) – 33/1
Carlos Coloma Nicolás (ESP) – 50/1
Catriel Andrés Soto (ARG) – 80/1
José Antonio Hermida (ESP) – 100/1
Raphaël Gagné (CAN) – 100/1
Daniel McConnell (AUS) – 100/1

Odds as of Aug. 15 courtesy betting website Bovada.lv.

The men’s side has a mountain biking rivalry of two all-time greats. Nino Schurter and Julien Absalon both have five world championships to their name. Absalon has two golds – Schurter wants his first in Rio.

Despite Absalon’s resume, Schurter is the overwhelming favorite going into the cross-country. He has dominated the World Cup circuit with three wins and he took his fifth world championship title in Nové Město na Moravě. Schurter won bronze in Beijing and silver in London. Can he finally get that elusive gold medal?

Julien Absalon is a legend in Olympic mountain biking. He won gold in 2004 and 2008. Unfortunately at the 2012 London Games, Absalon had a tire blowout that ended his race just after 10km. Many thought that would mark the end of an era for Absalon and Olympic mountain biking, but Absalon is back this year and looking to make one more run at gold.

The rest of the field will have their work cut out for them behind these two powerhouses.

Jaroslav Kulhavy won gold in London and would love to repeat. Kulhavy won the Absa Cape Epic, which is the Tour de France of mountain biking, in both 2013 and 2015. Plus he was the UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Champion in 2014. Kulhavy excels in many disciplines, but will he dominate the cross-country as he did in London?

Peter Sagan, who is referred to as the “sport’s most beloved personality” is an interesting man to watch. Sagan could have participated, and possibly won, the road race in Rio, but decided to focus on mountain biking. He raced mountain bikes as a teenager and won a junior world championship, but he hasn’t raced in this discipline in seven years. Seven years. He’s still one of the favorites. According to Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal, “it would be a sport-rattling upset if he wound up on the medal podium.”

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