BMC MTB Racing Team; One for All and All for One
The BMC MTB Racing Team won its fifth title for Best World Cup Team in a row after a magnificent muscle feat during the World Cup Finals in Val di Sole. But this year’s title has been the hardest to conquer. Lets’ have a look back at the season to see how things shaped up.
Round 1: Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic
Sunday 21 May, 14:13. The UCI Mountain Bike World Cup is about to kick off and nervousness can be read on the riders faces. After two months of national races, things are about to get serious.
Hopes for a good result ended quickly for a large part of the field caught in the double crash at the front. Lars Forster was one of the most affected riders. He jumped back on his bike dead last and with an injured hand that forced him to stop the race. A post-race x-ray confirmed a broken scaphoid that would put his season on hold for a few weeks.
At the front, Julien Absalon had to sharp to cross the finish line in third place behind Nino Schurter and David Valero Serrano while Titouan Carod had an impressive race finishing in seventh place in his very first Elite World Cup.
With Reto Indergand finishing 14th, the team won the Team Classification in front of the MMR Factory Racing Team and the Scott-Sram MTB Racing Team.
2nd round: Albstadt, Germany
With Lars Forster ruled out with a broken hand, the team presents four riders at the start of the most physical round of the World Cup series. The course in Albstadt consisting of long and steep climbs leaves little room for physical weaknesses especially with the heat of the day. Julien Absalon and Titouan Carod couldn’t repeat their performance of the previous weekend and eventually took 7th and 19th place.
Lukas Flückiger (29th) and Reto Indergand (36th) also had a tough day in Albstadt.
For the first time in years, there was no BMC MTB Racing Team rider on the World Cup podium
For the first time in years, there was no BMC MTB Racing Team rider on the World Cup podium. The Scott-Sram MTB Racing Team won the Team Classification but the team managed to keep the lead in the overall standings by one point only.
Round 3: Vallnord, Andorra
After a six week-break, Lars Forster made his return to World Cup racing on the high altitude course of Vallnord. Unfortunately, it was Julien Absalon’s turn to be out. The Frenchman broke his collarbone in training a few days before and had to rest for six weeks, resulting in two missed rounds of the World Cup and the French Championships as well.
After two tough World Cups, Lukas Flückiger found a good rhythm in Vallnord and scored the best result for the team with a 12th place.
Starting with number 71 and with a lack of racing, Lars Forster managed an incredible performance making his way through the field up to 14th place before slowing down in the last two laps to take a solid 21st place.
Reto Indergand took the last available points for the team classification with his 29th place.
On his side, Titouan Carod had a great start but faded quickly; probably because of the altitude before crashing and injuring his hand. The young talent had to dig deep to finish the race (in 44th place) and score minimal but precious points for the individual World Cup ranking.
The team lost the lead in the overall classification but the home World Cup was coming next
The team only finished 7th in the team classification that day and lost the lead in the overall classification but the home World Cup was coming next and motivation was high.
Round 4: Lenzerheide, Switzerland
Sunday 9 July: Time for the home World Cup for the team and three of our riders, Lukas Flückiger, Lars Forster and Reto Indergand who were keen to do very well in front of their families and fans.
Flückiger, Indergand and Carod had a very good start, racing in the top 15 for the first half of the race. Things shaped up when Nino Schurter decided to take active control of the race. Titouan Carod managed an excellent race crossing the finish line in 7th equaling his best World Cup result ever and taking his second top 10 of the season.
Lukas Flückiger had another solid race finishing in 12th place while Reto Indergand faded towards the end of the race and ended up 24th.
With a strong team performance, the Scott-Sram MTB Racing Team of Nino Schurter won the team classification of the day and increased its lead in the overall with a total of 212 points in front of the Cannondale Factory Racing XC Team (203 points) and the BMC MTB Racing Team (192 points).
Round 5: Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada
The team was finally complete again! A week after his return to racing at the European Championships where he took silver, Julien Absalon was back at the World Cup for one of his favorite races: Mont-Sainte-Anne where he won his very first World Champion title back in 1998 in the Junior category.
Back on the first row after his seventh place in Lenzerheide, Titouan Carod was another rider happy to be in Mont-Sainte-Anne. The young Frenchman won there a year ago in the U23 category on what he calls “the best course of the season”.
As usual, the newly crowned vice-French Champion had a very good start and didn’t hesitate to take command of the field in the start loop and when World Champion Schurter decided to accelerate before the first bottleneck, he was the only one capable of following him. Carod rode very smart and could keep up with Schurter’s pace in all sections of the challenging course: steep uphills and technical downhills until the penultimate lap. Unfortunately and despite great resistance, Carod couldn’t avoid the return of Tempier and was outsprinted on the finish straight by Italian Champion, Gerhard Kerschbaumer.
Carod would bring home more good memories of Mont-Sainte-Anne where he managed his first Elite podium ever.
Behind him, the other riders of the BMC MTB Racing Team also achieved great results. Reto Indergand rode a very consistent race to take a final 10th place, his best World Cup result this season.
Fellow countrymen Lars Forster also had a great race despite a little crash and eventually took 14th place just behind Julien Absalon.
Back on the team podium and back in contention for the overall classification
With four riders in the top 15, the team was back on the team podium of the day and back in contention for the overall classification.
The decision would go down to the last round of the season in Val di Sole, Italy.
Round 6: Val di Sole, Italy
Sunday 27 August: Val di Sole offers the perfect place for the World Cup finals with its good weather, great crowd and mix of downhill, four-cross and cross-country action.
Let’s make it five in a row!
Beside individual performance, there was one big goal for the race: winning the team overall classification of the 2017 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup. Alex Moos, the team manager couldn’t be clearer during the pre-race briefing: “We had a season with ups and downs. For the first time in a few years, we didn’t win a World cup but there is still something we can achieve. The team was crowned number one World Cup team for the first time in 2013 and we won every year since. Let’s make it five in a row! So tomorrow, when you’ll be racing, do your very best as usual and never give up. Every point counts so keep pushing even if you’re not in the top 3 of the team. Anything can happen to the others team riders and it’s also important to be in front of all possible Scott and Cannondale riders to prevent them to score too many points.”
Highly motivated, the five riders started focused and with the knife between their teeth, ready to give everything for the team.
Carod was the first in action completing the start loop in first position. Forster quickly made his way up to the top 10 (starting from number 50) together with Julien Absalon.
Lap after lap, points were calculated, for the team and for its competitors to keep the staff and riders informed of how things were developing. Half –way through the race, things started looking really good for the guys in red and black with Absalon, Forster and Carod in the top 10 and Flückiger and Indergand in front of all Scott and Cannondale riders (with the exception of Nino Schurter).
Until the finish line, the five riders fought hard, giving everything they had.
Explosion of joy on the finish line!
Absalon finished 3rd equaling his best result of the season and Lars Forster took 5th place, his first World cup podium this season. Titouan Carod concluded his first World cup season with a great 8th place and a 6th place in the individual classification. Lukas Flückiger came back from position 46 at the end of the first lap to a final 14th place while Reto Indergand finished 22nd.
Explosion of joy on the finish line! With such a strong performance, the team easily won the classification of the day and the overall classification. Mission accomplished!
More than a usual victory, winning as a team brings everyone together. Riders and staff can celebrate together after an entire season spent on the road. The 2017 title, with its ups and downs and its long-lasting undecided outcome, will certainly be remembered as the most emotional one.
- BMC MTB Racing Team, 344 pts
- Scott-Sram MTB Racing Team, 311 pts
- Cannondale Factory Racing XC, 302 pts
Photos: EGO Promotion, Phil Gale, Emmie Collinge and Redbull.