First victories in a season that has just begun<- To the overview
In two weeks time the Worldcup season starts, and with it the countdown for London’s Olympic games. The riders of the «Multivan Merida Biking Team» have chosen different paths for their preparations for the season.
At the «Andalucia Bike Race», José Hermida and his colleagues from the «Multivan Merida Biking Team» were the poster boys of the event. And they lived up to their role as race favourites: Hermida was competing at the stage race together with Rudi van Houts, Hannes Genze and Andreas Kugler were the second team that the «Multivan Merida Biking Team» had at the start. And when all the stages had been ridden, José Hermida and Rudi van Houts had won no less than three of the six stages, crossing the line in second in the others. The balance of Hannes Genze and Andreas Kugler was almost as brilliant with two stage wins and a second-place finish in the overall, trailing their team-mates by about six minutes.
It was only in the final stage that another team got to celebrate a win with the Danish Olympic Team. Thus the «Multivan Merida Biking Team» fully lived up to being the big favourites: «A lot had been expected from us, and we did not let our fans down a bit», José Hermida commented on the stage race. «First we focussed on getting the lead in the overall, then we could give Hannes and Andreas a helping hand in securing the runner-up spot. Apart from a few flat tires, everything has been running smoothly, so this gives a lot of confidence for the Olympic season ahead.»
Hermida’s partner Rudi van Houts was absolutely satisfied as well: «José and I were always riding in the lead, which inspires quite some confidence ahead of the first Worldcup race in Pietermaritzburg. After all this race was perfect to get back into the right rhythm for competing.» After having finished in second, Hannes Genze commented: «We are very content with our result, all the more as I was getting stronger throughout the event. Now we have two weeks time to recover from this tough effort and get ourselves to top form with some specific workout sessions in order to shine at the Cape Epic.»
Jochen Käß wanted to work on his racing toughness at Cyprus’ «Afxenta Stage Race». But the week before this race, a severe cold forced him to rest for five days, so Käß saw no chance to shine and compete for the podium spots as he had planned. «At the beginning I had no choice but to put on the handbrake, and the results were not as I had expected. But I managed to get better day-by-day, so I can still draw a positive conclusion», Käß commented on what were the first races of his season 2012. Before heading for the first Worldcup race in South Africa, Käß competed at the last race of the «Cyprus Sunshine Cup». As the winner clocked a time of just under one and a half hours, this was a good test for the first Worldcup race. Finishing in ninth, Käß looks to be on the right way in time.
Other than his team-mates, Ralph Näf has been staying in South Africa for quite a while already, competing in a number of road races and criteriums throughout February. The Swiss rider scored a second at the «Cycle Classic Stellenbosch» as his strong results, increasing his confidence regarding the hotly contested pre-selection against his compatriots. After all, Switzerland only gets three tickets for the Olympic race, and there are a dozen of riders that have the goods to make the selection. Ralph Näf showed that he is back in contention at the «Grape Escape» stage race: On the first day, he suffered a puncture on the last kilometre and still finished in second, on the second day he soloed for the win, taking the overall lead as well. On the third and final day, Ralph Näf put two minutes and more between him and all other competitors, securing the overall win.
For the «Multivan Merida Biking Team», the season starts in real earnest on the weekend of 17th/18th March: Then the first race of the crosscountry Worldcup is being ridden in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. One week later, the legendary «Cape Epic» stage race kicks off in South Africa as well.
<- To the overview