Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå makes mountain biking history
Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå makes mountain biking historyFor two seasons Gunn-RIta Dahle Flesjå had been chasing the elusive 29th win in the cross country worldcup. At the third race of the season in Switzerland, MULTIVAN MERIDA BIKING TEAM’s Norwegian showed a superior performance, making history with another win. On another note the team’s men returned to the top ranks of the sport with Ondrej Cink finishing on the podium in third and the team winning the men’s team classification.
Albeit not featuring a really long climb, the course in Lenzerheide still was a demanding challenge for the athletes due to its abundance of technical singletrack sections, the brutal summer heat and the altitude of the race’s location. Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå had finished in 2nd in the two first races of the season, getting beaten by young Swiss rider Jolanda Neff. And it was this rider who jumped into the lead at the third race of the season in Lenzerheide for the first five minutes of the women’s race, competing in front of a frenetic home crowd. But Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå was alert: The Norwegian of the MULTIVAN MERIDA BIKING TEAM only granted the Swiss rider a couple of seconds of advantage, and after six minutes of racing she took control of things. While Dahle Flesjå took the lead of the race Neff had to pa for her effort and dropped out of the top10 for a while.
At the same time Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå took charge of things. For three consecutive laps she teamed up with Canadian Catherine Pendrel to extend her lead on the others. In the fourth lap the rider of the MULTIVAN MERIDA BIKING TEAM attacked from the lead group as Neff had started a chase from behind. Dahle Flesjå quickly dropped her last companion and continued to build her lead over the ensuing three laps. Thus she finally got to celebrate her 29th victory in the cross country worldcup, making her the lone record holder in the history of the sport. This win came just one week after her win at the World marathon championships. „As for the week before the race, we decided to focus on my recovery from the marathon Worlds. This worked flawlessly, and my legs were very good today“, Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå explained after the race.
The win in Lenzerheide was Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå 29th victory in the cross country worldcup. The figurehead of the MULTIVAN MERIDA BIKING TEAM now is the lone record holder in this aspect in the sport of mountain biking. No wonder she was enjoying the moment to the full: „This win really means a lot to me and I would like to dedicate it to all the people who have supported me over all the years - especially so to my coach and husband Kenneth. Of course my win at the marathon World championships was a boost for my confidence, as this race has been on of the main targets of my season that I adjusted my preparation to. Today’s course was hard and I had to remain focused all the way to the finish line, carefully picking the sections where I could recover just a little bit in order to attack after. This has worked out very well today.“
The men of the MULTIVAN MERIDA BIKING TEAM had reasons to celebrate as well. But right after the start nothing hinted at a top10 result, as the dust and tight technical sections caused some problems throughout the short starting loop. As a consequence, José Hermida and Ondrej Cink only finished this loop in 24th and 27th respectively after a couple of minutes. But from the third lap Ondrej Cink started a truly impressive chase: At first he moved into the top10, then he looked to be on target for a podium place and finally he crossed the finish line in 3rd. MERIDA’s new NINETY-SIX race fully safely took him and his team mates over the wide variation of roots and rocks that littered the course. Another rider with valid reasons to celebrate was Rudi van Houts: Finishing in 13th the Dutchman made another step to get closer to the top10. José Hermida finished the race in Lenzerheide in 16th, contributing his share to the victory of the MULTIVAN MERIDA BIKING TEAM in the men’s team classification. This marks an important turn after a string of health issues at the beginning of the season.