With just two weeks to go for the Olympic mountainbike races, Val d’Isère hosted the finals of the crosscountry worldcup. Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå won her 28th worldcup race. In the men’s race, José Hermida finished on the podium in fifth and Ralph Näf rode into the top10 as well.

Gunn-Rita Dahle FlesjÃ¥, the seasoned Norwegian, dictated the pace in the women’s race from the very start, riding away from the competition in the first ten minutes and continuing for a well-deserved victory. By scoring her 28th win in a worldcup race, Dahle FlesjÃ¥ equalled the record of Julie Furtado who had been dominating the sport in the 90’s. “I may have won my first worldcup race 16 years ago, but it’s still something special to win such a race. And of course I am proud to have just as many victories as Furtado now”, Dahle FlesjÃ¥ commented.

Winning was not that easy for Gunn-Rita Dahle FlesjÃ¥, though, as a thunderstorm the night before the race had quite an effect on the race course. The grass sections were deep and energy-sapping, the descents were really slippery and therefore pretty tricky. Despite these conditions Dahle FlesjÃ¥ only got into problems once, however: On the second-to-last lap, she last a part of her lead when she almost crashed. But as the Norwegian kept her cool she managed to bring the lead back to what it had been and ride to a solo victory. “This was an almost perfect race. Of course I had expected to be doing well, and this gives a lot of self-confidence for the Olympic race”, Dahle FlesjÃ¥ said. By winning at the finals, the Norwegian also moved up to second in the worldcup’s overall standings.

In the men’s race, José Hermida and Ralph Näf were riding within the top10 positions from the very start. At first Näf was the faster of the Olympic athletes of the Multivan Merida Biking Team, but the order was turned around in the second lap. José Hermida was even riding in third position for quite a while, but the Spaniard could not hold on to that. On a course that was drying off, a lot of riders were getting faster throughout the last third of the race, but Hermida slowed down. Due to that he first had to let Switzerland’s Lukas Flückiger pass him, and as he crashed on the final lap he lost another position to the German national champion Manuel Fumic. Still he finished on the podium in fifth, and in the worldcup’s overall standings the Spaniard also got fifth. “It was a strange race today as my mind was already two weeks ahead and it was the same for many other riders. Right after the start I had some trouble to find my rhythm, but then the World Cup’s overall standings were a good reason to fight hard, and it paid off.”

After a strong start and a so-so second half of the race, Ralph Näf finished in 8th position: “Compared to the Swiss national championships one week ago, this was huge step in the right direction today. I have been training hard throughout the last month and therefore could not expect to compete with the fastest guys today. Seen the circumstances I am happy with my race, everything is right on schedule”. As the third rider of the Multivan Merida Biking Team in the men’s race, Jochen Käß was riding in 15th position for quite a while. At that time he was profiting from his tire choice as he had opted for models with a deeper tread. But during the last third of the race it was these tires that slowed him down when the course was drying off. “Early on in the race I profited from my choice of tires, but the closer to the finish the harder it got, and all those competitors that had opted for dry-weather tires had no problems in the technically demanding descents anymore”, Käß commented after the race that he finished in 20th position.

In the team ranking the Multivan Merida Biking Team finished in third, a great achievement.

Tue 21st Aug, 2012 @ 10:14 am

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