Third time lucky for mountain bike champ Schurter

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Swiss Schurter wins men's mountain bike gold

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) - Switzerland's Nino Schurter, third in Beijing and second in London, struck Olympic gold at his third attempt in Sunday's men's mountain bike competition.

The world champion was followed across the line by 2012 champion Jaroslav Kulhavy of the Czech Republic with Spanish rider Carlos Coloma taking bronze.

Slovakian road race world champion Peter Sagan was well in contention for a top 10 finish until two punctures saw him fall down the field to finish among the back markers.

Up front Schurter, Kulhavy and Coloma seized control by the end of the first lap with Schurter pulling clear in the sixth and final lap to seal a complete set of Olympic medals.

"I have been working four years for this gold," said 30-year-old Schurter.

"If I am looking back, I needed silver in London to get back and be strong here. For me, it is the perfect story. I have bronze in Beijing, silver in London, and now gold in Rio. It is the perfect story."

A rainy Rio morning on the final day of competition made for treacherous conditions and Kulhavy was happy to settle for silver in the circumstances.

"It was incredibly tough. It rained today, and the course was very different, and it was very slippery on the rocks, and the downhills were much more difficult today," said Kulhavy.

"It was a different race in London, but today, I was with Nino again. I am very happy for both of us. Nino is the strongest rider this year. I wish him the gold medal."

Coloma, meanwhile, hailed his first major competition medal for 13 years "a dream come true."

"I knew it would be very complicated with such a high level of riders in this race. It is like a dream come true for me," said the 34-year-old.

France's 2004 and 2008 champion Julien Absalon finished eighth on his Olympic farewell.

Sagan, a former world junior mountain bike champion, opted to go back to his roots for a shot at Rio gold rather than take on the demands of the brutal 241.5km road race.

"After seven years, I am back on the mountain bike, and I happy to try," said Sagan, who won three stages at the Tour de France in July.

"The start was very good. After the first lap, I was with the first guys. Then I had some technical problems."

However, the charismatic Sagan insisted his immediate future was back on the road.

"Maybe I will try some other races, but for now, I have to go back on the road."

Sagan is not the first road racer to tackle this event, Australia's Cadel Evans who won the world title on the road in 2009 came seventh at Sydney 2000.