Avancini sees off Schurter in first seasonal duel

The most anticipated challenge of Capoliveri Legend XCO was won by the Brazilian in a sprint. Second place for Schurter ahead of the new overall leader Marotte

It was 1994 when John Tomac and Ned Overend gave life to one of the most memorable duels of the MTB World Cup on Elba Island. Today, in 2021, Capoliveri Legend XCO brought back to the island a great duel between champions who are characterizing an era of offroad mountain biking. Henrique Avancini and Nino Schurter have lit the fire of the World Cup well before its start in Nove Mesto in a month, giving another very high-profile stage to Internazionali d’Italia Series.

On Monday 5 April, the first edition of the event organized by ASD Capoliveri Bike Park hit all the targets, thanks to a track that convinced and enthused the athletes and the unmistakable views of the Elba Island enhanced by a climate-perfect weekend.

World Cup, Olympics and World Championships: the great goals of the season for Nino Schurter (Scott-SRAM) and Henrique Avancini (Cannondale Factory Racing) are very much alike. The confrontation between those two top riders and their very different characters is sure to continue throughout the whole season, with Capoliveri marking only the first, yet, significant, round.

The Brazilian won it, stepping on Internazionali d’Italia Series’ podium three years after the 2018 grand finale in Chies d’Alpago, after a head-to-head until the final meters of the seven laps (plus launch) on the menu.

Schurter forced the pace at the start, putting everyone in line, with Avancini constantly in his wake. During lap one, a group of six also featuring Mirko Tabacchi (KTM-Protek), Vlad Dascalu (Trek-Pirelli), Luca Braidot and Maxime Marotte (Santa Cruz-FSA) got clear.

On the third-to-last lap, a new acceleration from Schurter shuffled the cards, with only Avancini and Marotte resisting him in the downhill acceleration. Avancini had the top hand in a three-man sprint in the short lead-in to the finish, preceding Schurter and new Internazionali d’Italia Series overall leader Marotte. Fourth place for Luca Braidot (+ 0.19), fifth for Dascalu (+ 0.32).

It was a beautiful and very hard day,” said Avancini, “fighting with Nino is always an extra motivation, facing him is an opportunity and if there is a chance to win, you have to take it. I needed so much to get back into the race, testing myself against high caliber opponents: winning this first outing was certainly important.

For the most successful athlete in history, it is never easy to swallow a defeat, but Nino Schurter found positive signs in his seasonal debut: “I tried to go full-gas from the beginning, trying to distance the rest. On the last lap, Avancini was a little more explosive, but I’m happy with my seasonal debut, on the beautiful Elba Island. Next week in Nals we will have the rematch, on a very different path and with an even stronger field of rivals.

Among Under 23, Simone Avondetto (Trek-Pirelli) kept the leader’s jersey with today’s 12th place.