The Multivan Merida has its sights set on victory this year, be that at the World Champs, the Olympics or on the World Cup circuit. For 2012 they’ve got their hearts and minds set on reclaiming the much coveted claim of being the top team out there.
After consistently impressive performances across the 2011 season Jose Hermida and Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesja secured their spots for the upcoming season, and will strive to build on their success of the previous year. Joining them are Ralph Naf, Rudi van Houts, Jochen Kass, Hannes Genze and Andreas Kugler.
With the first round of the World Cup mere weeks away the riders will need to do their best to ensure they are picked to represent their respective countries in the Olympics, but if all goes to plan the Merida Multivan team could have no less than five of its riders at the start of the race line come August.
Former cobra tamer Jose Hermida is no stranger to the Olympics, having won a silver medal at Athens in 2004. This will be his fourth time representing Spain and Hermida is more determined than ever to return home with a gold medal around his neck.
“For me there are three big races this year: the first World Cup, the Olympics and the World Champs”. Whilst Hermida is yet to ride the course at Hadleigh Park he said he is “going to be more focussed on that one hour and 45 minutes in the summer than I will be for any races I have beforehand”.
Hermida finished in fourth place both in the World Cup overall standings as well as at the Worlds in Champery where he was the defending champion. In fact for the last nine years Hermida has always been ranked within the top five at the end of the race season.
Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesja had a fantastic season in 2011 making a return to the top level of the sport. Winning the European XC Championships, earning two spots on the World Cup podium and narrowly missing out on a top five finish at the World Champs.
Speaking about her success at the World Champs Dahle Flesja said: “It’s been a long time since I’ve worn the white jersey, or even since we had one in the team!” clearly joking with team mate Jose Hermida, who of course wore the jersey with pride across the previous season.
The team dynamics clearly matter to Dahle Flesja who added: “It’s important to have the right people around you like we have here in the team, to remind you that you can do it”. Like team mate Herida, Dahle Flesja is no stranger to the Olympics and is confident she will part of the Norwegian team. With the support of her team she is bound to do well.
Although we are only two months into the year, 2012 looks set to be one of the busiest, and possibly most successful years for the Multivan Merida team. Already the team are looking to the future and while they will not be competing in any of the XC Eliminator races this year, it is something they are very much looking forward to being a part of in 2013, when in their words: “Things go back to normal”.
Keep your eyes peeled for part two of the Merida Press Camp where we’ll be taking a closer look at the team bikes.