Three 2nd places at the Worldcup finals

At the finals of the cross country Worldcup held in Vallnord, Andorra two athletes of the MULTIVAN MERIDA BIKING TEAM rode into the spotlight. Both Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå and Ondrej Cink were leading their respective races at times and crossed the finish line in 2nd. Thomas Litscher also finished in the top10 in 9th, and José Hermida capped off his long Worldcup career with a 12th place. In the team standings the men finished in 2nd as well.

 

 

A demanding course was awaiting the athletes at the final race of the Worldcup season in the Pyrenees. And rain in the night before the races made the countless roots and rocks more slippery, adding to the difficulty of the course. But on race day the conditions were ideal and so everything was set for a spectacular finale. After a season with some disappointments, MULTIVAN MERIDA BIKING TEAM’s Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå wanted to show that she’s still a strong competitor at 43 years of age. And indeed the Norwegian had a good start and pulled away from the rest with Catharine Pendrel. When the Canadian crashed at the end of the first of a total of six laps, Dahle Flesjå was riding in the lead of the race all on her own. She managed to build a lead of 35 seconds by the end of the fourth lap, and for a moment the 30th victory in a cross country Worldcup race seemed within reach.

 

But in the penultimate lap Jolanda Neff managed to close the gap to the Norwegian, and on the final lap the Swiss rider made the decisive move for the win. Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå crossed the finish line of the last Worldcup race of the season in 2nd, moving up to 5th in the overall standings as well. «Since the start is even more important on this demanding course, I gave it all from the very start. Sadly I was missing that little extra bit in the end, but I’m still very happy with this 2nd place. I have shown that I belong in the top5 in the Worldcup where I want to be all next season», the Norwegian of the MULTIVAN MERIDA BIKING TEAM commented after the race. «Next season I want to ride all races on this level and go for the overall one more time. Today’s result gives me the necessary motivation to work hard over the winter again and then pick up the chase for a 30th Wordcup win in the best possible shape.»

 

The men of the MULTIVAN MERIDA BIKING TEAM also lined up for the Worldcup finals in Andorra with big ambitions: Ondrej Cink loves the course in the Pyrenees and has won a Bronze medal at the World championships here. José Hermida got to ride the last Worldcup race close to his home country, capping off his long and illustrious career. Meanwhile Thomas Litscher wanted to show his true class at the season’s finale. Soon after the race had started Ondrej Cink sprinted into the first positions. The Czech rider looked to be the strongest on the brutally steep climbs of the course, and he returned from the first lap as the solo leader. This did not change until halfways into the race Julien Absalon and Nino Schurter managed to bridge the gap to Cink. But still the Czech rider refused to give in, and since Schurter lost contact due to a flat tire, Ondrej Cink got to celebrate his best result of the season with a 2nd place.

 

«I really wanted to win today, and that’s why I gave it all right from the start. From there, I felt very good until the very last quarter of the race, only fading a bit in the fifth lap. This was where I lost the race, but of course I’m very satisfied with 2nd as well», Ondrej Cink said. Thomas Litscher on the other hand had quite a bad start for his doing. But from there the Swiss rider started to accelerate and never looked back: «After the start I had no choice but to work my way forward in the standings lap by lap, and I really gave it all right until the finish. Finishing within the top10 is what I expect from myself in Worldcup races, and this finally has worked out again today with a 9th place. This is all the more enjoyable as the entire team performed strongly today.» In the team standings the MULTIVAN MERIDA BIKING TEAM also finished in 2nd - a positive conclusion to a season with some lows.

 

The emotional highlight of the entire racing weekend in Andorra came courtesy of the mountain bike community. When José Hermida rode through the feedzone on the last lap in the last Worldcup race of his long career, all the team mechanics saluted the 38 year-old Spaniard by lifting and waving spare wheels, honoring the person just as much as his long and successful career. «Today, I felt just like I did at my very first Worldcup race in St.Wendel: Excited, suffering and enjoying myself - what more can I ask for? My shape has been improving since June, I also feel better at the starts  now and with that the fun is back. Getting greeted by all the mechanics with the raised wheels was a very emotional moment, and I had to force myself to get back into the necessary focus to finish the race after that moving tribute.» MERIDA also bows to its long-time team rider José Hermida who has become a figurehead of the Taiwanese manufacturers over the years.

 

UCI XCO Worldcup 2016: Round 6 in Vallnord, Andorra

Result women:

1. Jolanda Neff, SUI, in 1:31.32 hours

2. Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå, NOR/MULTIVAN MERIDA BIKING TEAM, + 0.36

3. Catharine Pendrel, CAN, + 1.21

 

Result men:

1. Julien Absalon, FRA, in 1:26.08 hours

2. Ondrej Cink, CZE/MULTIVAN MERIDA BIKING TEAM, + 0.43

3. Pablo Rodriguez Guede, ESP, + 0.55

 

Team classification men:

1. BMC Mountainbike Racing Team, 86 points

2. MULTIVAN MERIDA BIKING TEAM, 76 points

3. BH-SR Suntour-KMC, 58 points