MERIDA News & Events
Näf narrowly misses out on the win in Saalhausen 31-Aug-2012
Näf narrowly misses out on the win in Saalhausen
Two weeks after the Olympic games, Saalhausen in Germany was the venue for the third race of the Mountainbike Bundesliga. Ralph Näf narrowly missed out on the win due to a flat tire in the final lap. Jochen Käß finished in fifth, and Andreas Kugler managed to win Saalhausen’s marathon race.
Lots of rain in the days before the race had made the grass sections of the course deep and power-sapping. With only two weeks to go for the World crosscountry championships in Austria's Saalfelden, the course offered a true test of form for the three riders of the «Multivan Merida Biking Team». Ralph Näf, Jochen Käß and Rudi van Houts faced some stiff competition as well, but they were riding in the first positions of the race right from the start.
Ralph Näf was the strongest, forming a lead trio with Julian Schelb and Emil Lindgren before setting off on his own towards the end of the race. The Swiss rider built up a comfortable lead and looked to be on his way to a win. «After a race like today's I start to wonder if I will ever win a race again. Right to the last descent everything worked out perfectly for me, and I still don’t understand how I could flat the rear tire on that section», a disappointed Ralph Näf commented after the race.
Sweden's Emil Lindgren profited from the situation and took the win. Ralph Näf had to settle for second, which was a poor reward for a strong performance. Jochen Käß finished in fifth behind the two strong under23 riders Michiel van der Heijden and Julian Schelb. «I had some problems with my brakes right from the start, and that’s why I could not descend at the pace I would have liked to. What am I to say, I have to be content with fifth place seen the circumstances, and the legs were not bad», Käß commented.
Rudi van Houts was also riding within the top5 during the first lap. But then he had to get out of his pedals and put too much weight on the ankle that he had hurt before the Olympic games. «After that incident the ankle was hurting badly, and although I could keep the pace of the chasing group I was riding in, I decided to abandon the race in order not to further hurt that ankle and have it checked», van Houts said. «The way things look, it's only the muscles that took some damage, and that should not be a problem for the World championships.»
The day before, Rudi van Houts and Ralph Näf were competing in the sprint race for the «Multivan Merida Biking Team». Van Houts already got eliminated in the first round. Ralph Näf fared better: He made it to the semifinal but saw no chance to qualify for the final. At least, the team had a winner on the weekend as Andreas Kugler managed to win Saalhausen’s SKS marathon race. Hannes Genze was competing in Norway at the Birkebeiner Rittet, where he finished in twelfth.