Strong performances in Canada

With only two weeks to go for the Olympic cross country race, the athletes from the MULTIVAN MERIDA BIKING TEAM showed some strong performances at the fifth race of the cross country worldcup in Mont Sainte-Anne, Canada. Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå was back to her old strength and finished the race in 2nd. In the men’s race José Hermida scored his best result of the season with a 6th place while Ondrej Cink crossed the finish line right behind him in 7th.



The countdown for the Olympic cross country race is ticking, and the fifth race of the cross country worldcup was the final rehearsal. This race was held on Mont Sainte-Anne’s classic course where José Hermida had been crowned as world champion in 2010. Only a few athletes chose not to compete to save themselves for Rio, but most of the world’ elite cross country riders lined up for the race. The athletes did not only have to deal with the usually demanding course with steep climbs and plenty of roots and rocks. The weather conditions were another challenge with high temperatures, high humidity and occasional summer showers throughout the races. As an extra motivation MERIDA had provided the three Olympic starters of the MULTIVAN MERIDA BIKING TEAM with mountain bikes with a flashy green paint job.     


Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå conceded quite some positions right after the start of the women’s race. Seen her painful experience at this year’s world championships where she was downed in the fight for positions after only three hundred meters, the Norwegian from the MULTIVAN MERIDA BIKING TEAM did not want to take any unnecessary risks just two weeks before the Olympic games. But on the first steep climb Dahle Flesjå resolutely moved up into the top5 positions, and at the end of the opening lap she worked her way into 2nd place. Catharine Pendrel as the later winner of the race had already created a half a minute gap by that time, and this would not change anymore on the way to the finish. In her wake Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå rode to an uncontested 2nd place.


«This sensation of success came at the exact right time, not just for me but for the entire MULTIVAN MERIDA BIKING TEAM. I had a top shape for the Worlds but could not show it. At Lenzerheide I still was smashed up from that crash. Today everything fell into place, and finishing on podium still means a lot to me. So I’m enjoying the moment to the full now», Dahle Flesjå explained after her race. «Today’s course with its steep climbs was a real challenge as I have changed my workouts and mainly focussed on speed and power to be ready for the course in Rio. So today’s result is all the more satisfying, really.»


In the men’s race Thomas Litscher sprinted into the lead right after the start. For some minutes, the Swiss rider of the MULTIVAN MERIDA BIKING TEAM seemed to follow up on the strong performance he had shown a week before in England. But as Litscher had been suffering from digestive problems in the days before the race, he was lacking the necessary power and dropped through the standings after the initial fireworks. As for Jose Hermida and Ondrej Cink, their races were the exact opposite: The two Olympic starters struggled to keep themselves up front in the frantic fight for positions right after the start and were forced to give chase from there. The two managed to move up all the way into the top10, and on the final two laps they were riding together.


Unfortunately the top5 positions were out of reach by that time, but with a 6th place for José Hermida and a 7th place for Ondrej Cink, the result was encouraging for the MULTIVAN MERIDA BIKING TEAM even without a rider on the podium. Hermida was particularly relieved at the finish: «Today offered a last opportunity to test the form for Rio. Right after the start things were very chaotic, but from there I could put a lot of power on the pedals. This probably was my best race of the last three years and a more than welcome boost for my morale.» Ondrej Cink was decidedly less happy: «Once again my start was not good enough. From there things were way better but I only can be happy about my performance today. Seen my form I should have finished on the podium here.»


UCI XCO Worldcup 2016: Lauf 5 in Mont Sainte-Anne, Kanada

Resultat Frauen:

1. Catherine Pendrel, CAN, in 1:31.31 Stunden

2. Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå, NOR/MULTIVAN MERIDA BIKING TEAM, + 0.43

3. Emily Batty, CAN, + 1.38