Race News

Successful Worldcup opener in Nove Mesto


Successful Worldcup opener in Nove Mesto

At the first round of mountain biking’s cross country Worldcup, the MULTIVAN MERIDA BIKING TEAM got to celebrate a podium finish thanks to Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå finishing in 2nd. After some lengthy health issues this spring both Thomas Litscher and José Hermida returned to the elite ranks of the sport as well. And one of them was competing on an all-new MERIDA bike.

With a number of artificial rock sections and countless roots and turns the circuit in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic is considered a true challenge anyway. This was all the more true at the first round of this year’s cross country Worldcup as it had been raining a lot in the days and the night before the race. As a consequence many sections were even more treacherous than normally. This did not keep Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå from the MULTIVAN MERIDA BIKING TEAM to engage in a thrilling duel throughout almost the entire race with young Swiss rider Jolanda Neff - much to the joy of the many loud spectators along the course.

In the end the Norwegian missed out on the elusive 29th Worldcup race win that would make her the most successful athlete in the history of mountain biking by a scant two seconds. Seen this fact it was no wonder that Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå had mixed emotions about her race: „Of course this was a great performance, but I’m also admittedly a bad loser, so I can’t be happy really with 2nd. Jolanda simply was a bit faster on the descents. It’s payback time in one week in Albstadt however, and until then I will make sure that I do not make a single mistake. As its the beginning of the season, we were looking for signals from my body, and the feedback I got has been very promising. I’m very satisfied with my form.“

The men’s race counted no less than 150 participants, among them José Hermida, Thomas Litscher, Ondrej Cink and Julian Schelb of the MULTIVAN MERIDA BIKING TEAM. Despite the fact that he had been struggling with an upset stomach in the lead-up to the race, Thomas Litscher surprised friend and foe by quickly moving up from a lowly 76th position in the starting grid and into the top10. He defended this position and finished the race in 8th place. „I’m surprised myself about how fast my return to the elite ranks has been. And of course I’m happy about my result as well.“ José Hermida crossed the finish line 40 seconds after Litscher to score a 10th place: „Right after the start I had a hard time to find my racing rhythm, but my legs were feeling better as the race went on, so I managed to move up into 10th place.“ By the way Hermida was riding MERIDA’s new 96 full-suspension bike in Nove Mesto. This bike will officially be launched at the second Worldcup race in Albstadt.

Seen the 2nd place in the women’s race and two riders finishing in the top10 in the men’s race, the MUTLIVAN MERIDA BIKING TEAM could swallow some downers as well: Right after the start Ondrej Cink got knocked off his bike in the frantic fight for the positions up front, losing a lot of time and many positions as a consequence. Thus he only finished in 22nd, which was below his ambitions - seen his good form and the fact that he was riding on home turf. In what was his first race in the elite category, Julian Schelb was forced to abandon after only one lap as he was suffering from a gastrointestinal disorder. And Dutchman Rudi van Houts even had to forfeit the race: In the days before the race he had crashed badly while practicing on the race course, suffering a large haematoma on his left thigh.


XCO Worldcup, Round 1 in Nove Mesto/CZE

Result Women:
1. Jolanda Neff, SUI, in 1:34.29 hours
2. Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå, NOR/MULTIVAN MERIDA BIKING TEAM, + 0.01
3. Pauline Ferrand Prevôt, FRA, + 1.39

Result Men:
1. Jaroslav Kulhavy, CZE, in 1:33.27 hours
2. Nino Schurter, SUI, + 0.24
3. Julien Absalon, FRA, + 1.16
further down:
8. Thomas Litscher, SUI/MULTIVAN MERIDA BIKING TEAM, + 3.13