Podium result for Dahle Flesjå in Albstadt

Summery weather welcomed the athletes for the second race of the crosscountry worldcup in the southwestern German town of Albstadt. While Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå managed to finish on the podium in 5th, the men of the MULTIVAN MERIDA BIKING TEAM missed out on a top10 result.

 

 

With its long, hard climbs and fast descents that hardly offer any chance for recovery, the crosscountry course in Albstadt’s Bullentäle is generally considered as hard and highly challenging in terms of endurance. Due to alternating power-sapping flat sections and tough climbs, the races in Albstadt are often ridden in groups before everybody tries to attack full-out on the ascents. In short the course in the Zollernalb region clearly favors good climbers. Since the riders of the MULTIVAN MERIDA BIKING TEAM had missed out on their own ambitions at the season-opening worldcup race in Australia, they were eager to compensate for this defeat in the region where MERIDA’s European headquarters are located. And there was one more motivating factor with the new BIG.NINE carbon hardtail that features an updated geometry and significantly more compliance and comfort for rough sections.

 

Since she had decided not to compete at the season’s first worldcup race in Cairns, Australia Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå had to start from the second row. As a consequence, the Norwegian rider of the MULTIVAN MERIDA BIKING TEAM conceded 19 seconds to the fastest rider and 12 seconds to a group with all well-known riders on the starting loop of the race. Just half a lap later on Dahle Flesjå had already moved up to 5th place and caught a group of chasers. But at this moment the day’s winner Annika Langvad had already gone clear, pedaling to an undisputed solo victory. Still from 2nd to 5th place everything seemed to be possible for Dahle Flesjå for most of the race’s duration. „Today I lacked a bit of power on the climbs, so I could not match the pace of the fastest riders there. Thanks to the new BIG.NINE I could compensate for that on the descents, closing gaps repeatedly, but I could do no better than 5th like that. Still this is a good start into my worldcup season, and I’m happy both with my race and the result“, Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå commented after the women’s race.

 

As for the men’s race, Julian Schelb could not start due to his pollen allergy issues. Due to that the MULTIVAN MERIDA BIKING TEAM was down to three riders. Ondrej Cink looked to have the best chances for a top10 result as the hard climbs typical for Albstadt’s course are perfectly suited for the Czech rider’s strengths. But unfortunately one of Cink’s feet slipped from the pedal right at the start, causing him to concede a lot of positions. From there Cink showed a very strong race, passing rider after rider and moving up to a 7th place. With two laps to go, all that separated him from a spot on the podium and the top5 riders were 30 seconds. „But the chase that the bad start forced me to do simply costed me too much energy. And once you run out of gas on a course like this, you pay the price for that right away. The speed that I had been going at for most of the race simply was too much, and I had to pay for that throughout the final two laps“, a visibly disappointed Ondrej Cink explained after the race that he finished in 13th place.

 

José Hermida did not fare any better: After a nightmare of a race at the worldcup opener the Spaniard had to line up further back in the starting grid. „Actually my start was okay, but from there I never found my rhythm. But most importantly I could not match the pace of the other riders when they attacked on the climbs, and that was costing me positions again and again. Throughout the first two laps I was still hoping for a top10 result, and later on I thought a top20 result might be possible. In the end I missed out on that closely“, Hermida said after the race that he finished in 21st. As the third rider of the MULTIVAN MERIDA BIKING TEAM in the men’s race, Thomas Litscher also started from pretty far back. As for the first three laps, Litscher was riding at a fast pace, working his way up the standings. „I don’t think I went too hard in those initial three laps, but my legs started to close up in the fourth lap, and from that moment to the finish I had to suffer a lot“, Thomas Litscher reflected on his race that he finished in 44th.