Best World Cup Team for the Third Year in a Row24. August 2015, Val di Sole, Italy — MTB Team
The BMC Mountain Bike Racing Team proudly stood on top of the podium at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup finals in Val di Sole, Italy. After 2013 and 2014 it is the third time that the men in red and black won the team overall classification.
The race began at frenetic pace for the BMC Racing Team; three riders were in the top 8 after the start loop. Ralph Näf was first, Lukas Flückiger in 6th and Julien Absalon in 8th. Unfortunately, it didn’t last very long as bad luck hit the team in the second lap. Julien Absalon felt his front tire was losing some air and Lukas Flückiger had to stop in the technical zone to change a rear flat tire. The race went differently for the two riders but in the end disappointment was on both sides.
“I quickly felt I was losing air but it was not enough to take the risk to stop in the tech zone and lose the front group,” Absalon explains. “I could still ride nicely and fast in the uphills but was scared to lose the front tire in the downhills. It kept in my mind the entire race and I felt super nervous every time I was too far away from the tech zone.” After Jaroslav Kuhlavy and Florian Vogel were dropped from the four-man leading group, the World Champion accelerated in every uphill but didn't manage to get rid of Nino Schurter. He had to let the Swiss rider go for another World Cup win, his third this season. With his second place, Absalon secured his second place overall in the World Cup classification.
On his side, Lukas Flückiger had no other choice than stopping in the tech zone to have his wheel changed. "I did the whole downhill on the rim and lost many positions. Too bad because I had a very good start for once,” he explained. Re-entering the race around the 35th position, the Swiss rider passed his competitors one after the other and ended up in 10th place. “It is the first time since I race in the Elite category that I finish the World Cup season without a podium, which is pretty disappointing. But my shape is good and there is still one important race to go: the World Championships!"
Despite the bad luck in yesterday’s race, the team could hold to its first place in the team overall classification in front of the Multivan Merida Biking Team and the Scott-Odlo Racing Team of Nino Schurter. For Alex Moos, manager of the team, it is a great outcome. "Every victory is different. I'm very proud of this one. All our riders have been with us for the last three years and three of them are in the top 10. It's a victory of experience."
Emotional Day for Ralph Näf
Val di Sole will also be remembered as Ralph Näf’s last World Cup. Still at his best - he started from the front row - the Swiss rider wanted to shine and defend his 7th place in the overall classification. He had the best start and crossed the line in first position at the end of the start loop. However, he quickly felt overwhelmed by his emotions and couldn’t sustain the pace very long. “Already in the morning I got very nervous. Everyone came to me to wish me good luck, thank me or tell me to enjoy my last World Cup - this made me jittery,” he explains. “My heart was never really in this race, I was thinking about the whole thing and wasn't even able to enjoy it. I didn’t fight for any result and just wanted to cross the finish line to get back to my family and my team.”
With the 2015 World Cup now over, it is time for the riders to focus on the last big goal of the season: the World Championships in Vallnord, Andorra. Julien Absalon will be giving everything to defend his Cross-country Olympic rainbow jersey while Ralph Näf and Lukas Flückiger will be starting both at the XCE and the XCO events.
Photos: EGO Promotion