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Nino Schurter has set his sights on doing the World Cup and World Championship double in 2017, and team boss Thomas Frischknecht is confident he can pull it off.
The Swiss rider has been in a class of his own this season, winning all four of the races on the UCI World Cup calendar and needing victories at Mont-Sainte-Anne and Val di Sole next month.
But his target is also on winning the subsequent World Championships in Cairns, Australia, from 5-10 September.
Of winning every single race this season – much like Rachel Atherton did last season in the women’s – Frischknecht says, “I don’t like that”.
But of the wider goals for the season, the Scott SRAM team boss says: “Sure, he wants to win the overall [World Cup title] and it looks really positive at the minute but more important to him will be the World Championships and winning his title there.
“For me, the perfect season is winning those two titles. He’s done it before and that’s what he’s aiming to do again.”
Last summer, Schurter completed a clean sweep of Olympic medals with gold having won silver at London 2012 and bronze the previous Games in 2008.
But Frischknecht warned Schurter’s rivals that his star charge was an even better prospect in 2017 at the age of 31.
“As a former racer, what impresses me most is that he’s not lying back,” said the 47-year-old Swiss, himself a former MTB world champion.
“He’s much more relaxed this year, more relaxed than ever. All the pressure and stress of the Olympics is gone. He’s having fun but, still, when it’s time to do his job, to train and to race, he’s just so impressive.”
Whether it proves to be the perfect season remains to be seen.
© Copyright 2017