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Switzerland tipped to scale the peaks in Mountain Bike

Nino Schurter
Nino Schurter will lead a strong Swiss challenge in the men's race. Phil Walter/Getty Images
Neff expected to win first gold medal of Baku 2015, while men's trio could grab clean sweep

Switzerland, a nation famed for its glorious high peaks, has been tipped to rule the Mountain Bike competition at the Baku 2015 European Games. 

World champion Jolanda Neff, 22, is the favourite in the women's event, which starts at midday on Saturday (13 June) and will provide the first ever European Games gold medal.

A few hours later, Swiss trio Nino Schurter, Lukas Fluckiger and Fabian Giger have a good chance of completing a clean sweep in the men's race, which starts at 15:30.

Poland's Maja Wloszczowska, one of Neff's main rivals, knows all about the the young Swiss sensation. The pair were team-mates with Giant Pro Cross-Country on the International Cycling Union (UCI) World Cup mountain bike circuit in 2013 and 2014.

"Two years ago I was the team leader, then last year she became the leader," said Wloszczowska, the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games silver medallist and 2003 and 2010 world champion.

"I could see her improvement and I was like her mentor, but the success of Jolanda is her own."

Wloszczowska said that competition for silver and bronze was likely to be fierce. "The gap between the top 10 girls, with the exception of Jolanda, is always very small," said the Pole.

In the men's race, the Swiss trio say the Baku course suits their style. 

"You have a lot of short uphill stretches, and I like to push uphill with a lot of force, so it's a really good course for me," said Schurter, who admitted he still felt pain "on the whole left side of my body" after a crash last month.

Fluckiger said: "It's a really tough course, especially with the heat and the wind, but it suits my racing style."

Schurter highlighted Italy's Marco Aurelio Fontana, the London 2012 bronze medallist, and Spanish duo José Antonio Hermida Ramos and Sergio Mantecon Gutierrez as their main rivals.

London 2012 gold medallist Jaroslav Kulhavy of the Czech Republic will miss Baku due to a knee injury, according to Czech press attaché Alexandr Kliment.


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    Switzerland tipped to scale the peaks in Mountain Bike

    Neff expected to win first gold medal of Baku 2015, while men's trio could grab clean sweep
    • PublishingList: NEWSARTICLE.SUGGESTED.NEWS
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    • Area: News (code:800)
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