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Epic with a Chance of Lycra - 54 Photos from World Champs XC

<b>Swedish National Team - The week began with hot temperatures and lovely sunshine for the Team Relay.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Eva Lechner of the Italian Team getting ready for the exchange in the Team Relay.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Some last minute changes just seconds before the exchange on Giole Bertolini's bike.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Many broken chains this weekend. Olympic Champion Jaroslav Kulhavy snapped his chain on the first few meters after the exchange in the Team Relay and the race was over for the Czech Team.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Gerhard Kerschbaumer storming for the win for the Italians in the Team Relay category. It is already their third medal in that discipline.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Pure Domination for Lukas Baum this year with winning National, European and World Champs. Look out for him next season in the u23 category.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Andrea Waldis getting her power on the turbo trainer. An electrified rank 5 in her first u23 season.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Tanja Zakelj lost the lead after a big crash in the Corkscrew but championed on. Check the dirt in the helmet.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Although Jolanda Neff is still a u23 rider in her second year, she decided to race this World Cup season in the Elite field to gain experience. At Worlds she had to race in her category and won by over two-minutes. The future has already started for her.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>The weather forecast for the U23 Men's race did not look great. It started sunny and ended in cold rain with the track gettin more difficult. Like Jolanda, Gerhard Kerschbaumer also raced all year in the Elite field and came back to his category this weekend. Two gold medals for him at Pietermaritzburg.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Markus Schulte Lünzum, the current leader in the u23 World Cup was disappointed in his finish. With big expectations and being in the top 3 the first two laps, he hit a rock in the treehouse section and got a puncture. After a long stop in the techzone the reach for a medal was gone.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>For the first laps, the Women's race was lead by a group of six. After Lechner crashed in Sharkas Playground at the end of lap two,.Zakelj took the lead but crashed while pushing too hard in the Corkscrew. Bresset and Wloszczowska took the chance and stomped to the front for a battle in the last 3 laps.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Julie Bresset closing a small gap to Maja Wloszczowska just after some rehydration in the feedzone.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Julie Bresset back on the top spot. The current Olympic Champion broke her collarbone at the beginning of the season and was back in form for the Women's Elite XCO race.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Respect at the finish. Gold and Silver arm-in-arm.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>The Elite Men's field starting to find out who will be this year's World Champion. 7 long laps to go...</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Nino Schurter leading the start. Having won in Pietermaritzburg the last two years, on an important race day Nino rarely falls through on expectations.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>She held the lead for most of the race, Maja Wloszczowska of the Giant Pro XC in the rocks.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>José Antonio Hermida back on the podium. Even at the age of 35, you can never count the Catalan out on a big day like Worlds. He is a class of his own.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>One of the oldest riders in the field, but Jose Hermida loves the African heat. Bronze medal. Ja Ja Ja</b> -Sven Martin

<b>The climb in Cascades Forest Park.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Hot and dry conditions for the XCO Elite Women. Lisi Osl clearing the airways. </b> -Sven Martin

<b>Again, José Antonio Hermida taking the inside line at Sharkas Playground, where many crashes were had this week.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b> Kuhlhavy through the steps.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Bresset taking gold...</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Nino by Parkin. #bestXCassistantever</b> -John Parkin

<b>Todd Wells didn't bring home gold, but he sure rode through it.</b> -John Parkin

<b>More XC gnarliness not found on the DH track.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Nino Schurter drifting into the amphitheatre in front of Fumic and Hermida. Constantly having a gap of 20-seconds throughout the race, but still having some power in the bag if the followers closed.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>The XC course was super tech. The dry, loose and fast conditions didn't make it any easier for the riders. Even long legged Kuhlhavy tasted the dirt.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Nino led from start to finish. </b> -Sven Martin

<b>They call him "Rock Garden King" and thats 100% true. Nino's speed through that section is unbelievable.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Manuel Fumic another rider that was injured early this year, back in form. He already had a good feeling and for the first time in his career told his team manager before the race to pack the podium bag. His feeling was right. Silver medal for him.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Here you have your new and old Cross Country World Champion. At the age 27, it is his 3rd gold medal in the Elite category.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Treehouse section. More tech than anything on the DH track. </b> -Sven Martin

<b>Bad luck for Julien Absalon this weekend. On Tuesday he crashed in training and broke a rib. Friday's training was not better either. Another crash, another broken rib. At the end it was still 6th place after fighting through the pain.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>A blur of a race for Nino.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>And African Gold for Nino.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Nathalie Schneitter warming up for the Cross Country Eliminator race.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Turbo Trainers where humming loud during the warm up for the Eliminator race.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Cross Country racer, Florian Vogel, did not qualify for the finals at the Eliminator adding to a sub-par season.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Celebrating until 4:30am in the morning and being back at the startline at 9:51am. A true champion, getting some last minute massage.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>After celebrating until 4:30am Nino's mechanic had a little surprise for him on Sunday morning at the start of the Cross Country Eliminator race.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Simon Gegenheimer looked fast through the first heat. Having too much power at the start of the 1/4 final causedrear wheel slip and his chances were gone.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Big Aussie, Paul Van der Ploeg, eyes the start lanes of the XCE final that he took gold in.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Another early season injury rider on the top spot of the podium. Aussie rider Paul Van Der Ploeg dominated the Cross Country Eliminator on Sunday morning. During the semi final he found another line into the first corner cutting it inside. His new line gave him the lead into his final run. At the finish line, he still had enough time to get back to here to show the rest of the riders his strength.</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Paul Van der Ploeg at the end of the hard XCE sprint.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Back in top form when it counted after a collar bone break earlier in the season. </b> -Sven Martin

<b>Golden light in the afternoons here in winter time, South Africa style.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Jaro Kuhlhavy couldn't find the pace that brought him Olympic gold.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Riding out front alone most of the race Nino never lost focus.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Victory...</b> -Marius Maasewerd

<b>Hamba Gahle.</b> -Sven Martin

Just because we don't feature much true XC content on Vital, doesn't mean we're not fans of the sport! World Champs in South Africa provided many epic battles among the super-fit in XCO, XCE and the Team Relay. Enjoy the incredlble imagery that captures the pain and the joy of all things XC from Pietermaritzburg by Marius Maasewerd, Sven Martin and John Parkin.

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