In the men’s field the competition was expected to be between Schurter, Julien Absalon (Orbea) – the winner of round two – and Kulhavy, who won here last year and was expected to up his game considerably for this race.
Five riders opened a gap after the start loop, but Absalon wasn’t one of them; after a crash in the rock garden and struggling to stay in the mid-20s, the rumoured to be sick French champion abandoned on lap four. Schurter, Kulhavy and Burry Stander (Specialized) opened a gap on chasers lap five, and then Schurter attacked on the final lap to record the only sub-13 minute lap of the race. It was only slightly faster than Kulhavy, pushed along by the roar of the crowd, but it was enough to give the Swiss rider a six second gap on his rival, and his second win of the season; on his birthday, no less. Stander soloed in for third, with Marco Fontana (Cannondale) finishing just ahead of Ralph Naef (Scott-Swisspower) for fourth.
“It was a real hard race,” commented Schurter. “I had a small mechanical on the first lap; my chain dropped off and then I had to gain connection with the leading group, and that was quite hard for me. It was a really awesome race here in front of the Czech crowd. . The crowd here is unbelievable, so great. On the uphill it was so loud – everybody was cheering – it makes it fun to race in front of a crowd like this. And they are really fair, they cheer for a Swiss guy too, not just for Kulhavy.”
“The best is when you can win on your birthday. I had some more energy today, being my birthday and I wanted to win. It is really a great feeling to win a World Cup on your birthday.”
Schurter leads the overall rankings with 700 points, followed by Burry Stander with 510 and Kulhavy at 425. Absalon dropped from second to fifth, behind Fontana.