Specialized’s Jaroslav Kulhavy rode to his first elite men’s cross country world championship title on Saturday afternoon in Champery, Switzerland. Winning the rainbow striped jersey capped off a perfect season for the Czech rider, who also won the 2011 World Cup overall two weeks ago.
“I’m so happy for this jersey and for this season,” said Kulhavy after his most recent win.
Kulhavy was part of an initial lead group of six men that also included former world champions Nino Schurter (Switzerland), Julien Absalon (France) and Jose Antonio Hermida (Spain) as well as Maxime Marotte (France) and Florian Vogel (Switzerland). The group escaped off the front on the start lap.
Vogel and Schurter worked together as teammates for the first few laps of the race to set a blistering pace. Kulhavy sat in second or third spot most of the time and after the race admitted that he was feeling tired at the beginning.
Vogel eventually dropped off as did Marotte, and a crash caused Absalon to lose his place among the leaders. That left Kulhavy, Schurter and Hermida together at the front, but before long Hermdia suffered a flat and dropped back, heading for assistance in the tech zone.
From then on, it was a battle between Kulhavy and Schurter. For much of the race, Schurter stayed at the front and appeared very strong, but with one and a half laps to go, the Swiss rider made a small mistake in a technical section and Kulhavy made the most of the opportunity and pushed the pace. The timing was good as it was after a climb and going into a flat section where Kulhavy was most powerful.
The elastic stretched and eventually snapped – Kulhavy was away from Schurter for good. He rode the last lap in the lead alone and eventually crossed the line waving a Czech flag as the new world champion.
“I was nervous when I attacked him,” said Kulhavy. “But I was able to focus.” Concenatration was of the utmost importance on the uber technical terrain. Many racers considered it to be the toughest course technically that they had done all season.
Kulhavy raced his 2012 Specialized Epic 29er full suspension bike to the win at the end of the seven-lap contest – he was on the bike he had just received a few weeks ago for the World Cup in his home nation of Czech.
“The Epic 29er is the best bike in the world, and I think it is the future of mountain biking. The 29er full suspension is the best for all conditions.”
The Czech rider had tried every tire combination during training, including the Specialized Renegade, Ground Control and Fast Track models. What he picked for race day were 2.00 S-Works Fast Trak tires on the front and rear at 21 and 22 psi respectively.
He inflated his rear shock to 145psi and set the Specialized Brain open at one click. Up front, he ran the 2012 29er Rock Shox SID with Specialized Brain at 110 and 105 psi in the positive and negative chambers respectively. He played with the brain adjustment during the race.