MERIDA News & Events
Merida Multivan Team at Windham 02-Jul-2012
A low after Mont Sainte-Anne’s high
Just one week after showing a strong performance in Mont Sainte-Anne, the «Multivan Merida Biking Team» suffered a series of setbacks at Windham’s worldcup races. Gunn-Rita posted the best result finishing in seventh, Ralph Näf could not even compete after having crashed heavily in the free practice session.
At the second-to-last race of the crosscountry worldcup in Windham, United States of America, the riders not only face temperatures of more than 30 degrees and a high humidity: The course’s long and tough climb was exposed to the sun, the loose surface only offered scant traction on the climb and countless, sharp-edged stones were lurking beneath a thick layer of dust. This led to a lot of mechanicals, mostly flat tires.
The euphoria caused by the win of the team ranking in Mont Sainte-Anne soon evaporated at the «Multivan Merida Biking Team». In Friday’s practice session, Ralph Näf crashed seriously. «My front wheel washed out in a corner on the descent, and I smacked into a tree with my back. Due to the shock and the pain, I could not get up for a while», Näf commented on his accident. «Thanks to the excellent work of our team’s physiotherapist, the back was not the problem anymore the next morning, but my knee was badly bruised. As I’ve got a couple of important races and training blocks scheduled for the weeks ahead, I reluctantly took the decision not to start here.»
When the women’s race started, Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå showed that she’s on form right from the start: She was riding in the first chasing group and during the second half of the race, she was the only rider who could challenge the Luna Pro Team trio. Riding in fourth place, the Norwegian kept the leaders within striking distance and looked to be a safe bet for another podium finish. «I could not match the pace of the fastest girls and decided to ride at my own, steady pace instead. With a strong final lap I might have had a shot at third place, but then my front tire flatted just 100 meters after the course’s point of culmination, so that final descent unexpectedly turned into quite an adventurous affair.» Due to this flat, Dahle Flesjå could not defend the fourth position and fell back to a seventh-place finish.
The heat and a number of mechanical problems caused a couple of dramas in the men’s race as well: José Hermida was on a strong ride and kept the leaders within striking distance in the third lap. «But then my left pedal was on my shoe rather than on the crank», Hermida explained. «I tried to mount it back on the crank right away, and when that did not work I put the pedal in my back pocket and tried to get to the tech zone as quick as possible.» As it was still a nose to tail race at this moment, Hermida lost an awful lot of positions in the race, but one thing he did not run out of was his fighting spirit: «As soon as the pedal was back on the crank, I set off to save as many points for the worldcup’s overall as possible. I felt good today, and riding the seventh-fastest time in the final lap confirms this.» Hermida was quick to stress that he had mounted the pedals on his bike himself and that no blame was to be put on the team. The Spaniard crossed the finish line in 27th position.
Right after the start, Dutchman Rudi van Houts was the first rider of the «Multivan Merida Biking Team» to pass the cameras. He went into the first corner in second position and passed the point of culmination on the initial lap in sixth position: «As a test for the Olympic games, I wanted to see just how long I could match the pace of the best riders. That might have been a bit too ambitious, but I could keep myself within striking distance of a podium spot right into the third lap, so the test was a successful as far as I am concerned», van Houts commented after having finished in 13th position. Jochen Käß had some difficulties to get into the race: «I felt powerless at the beginning of the race. My legs only opened up with two laps to go, and that’s when I started to gain a few positions in the race.» Käß crossed the finish line in 30th position.
The «Multivan Merida Biking Team» now has four weeks time to get over the setbacks it suffered in Windham before the worldcup finals are being ridden in Val d’Isère, France. And two more weeks are separating the riders from the Olympic mountain bike race.