XC Nationals: 13th title for Absalon, Bronze for Näf and Flückiger20. July 2015, Grenchen, Switzerland — MTB Team
The BMC MTB Racing Team was playing on two grounds this weekend. Julien Absalon raced Saturday in Oz en Oisans while the Swiss riders raced in Langendorf. They came back with three medals: one gold for Julien Absalon and two bronze (Ralph Näf in XCE and Lukas Flückiger in XCO).
13th Consecutive National Title for Julien Absalon
To see Julien Absalon on top of the French Championship podium did not come as a surprise but National Championships are a one-day race where everything can happen. “There is always nervousness on the day” Julien explains. “The level of competition is getting higher and higher every year so winning is not as easy as people believe”. Even with three riders taking part in the event( Sarrou, Marotte and Tempier), the BH team couldn’t do anything against the World’s n°1. “The course was really steep, one of the toughest of the season so tactics didn’t play a role.” Julien Absalon took the decision to ride his Fourstroke 01 on the morning of the race after rocks and roots started to appear from the very dry and dusty ground.
Bronze for Ralph Näf and Lukas Flückiger at the Swiss National Championships
According to Ralph Näf “It is really hard to race in Switzerland! The level is so high here. A fourth place is like a top 10 at a World Cup!” and so the Swiss, BMC mountain bikers had their work cut out for them over the weekend to get near the podium.
The XCE event opened the weekend of Swiss National Championships racing in Langendorf, only a few kilometers away from the BMC headquarters. Ralph Näf qualified first on his BMC Teamelite and went safely through all heats until the final. On the nice but technical course, the 2012 XCE World Champion couldn’t do more than third place. “I wanted to win; and I thought it was possible after my good qualifying round. But the start was BMX-like and I was a bit scared about the first jump so I was too much on the brakes. I should have opened them and would have had to have done fewer mistakes to win this race”. With this third place, Ralph Näf adds one more medal to his already impressive collection.
On Sunday, with four riders on the start line, the BMC MTB Racing Team was planning on a tactical race. Unfortunately, the flat, fast, and narrow course did not allow the team to play its collective card. Lukas Flückiger and Ralph Näf found themselves in a chasing group 30’’ behind a group of three riders with Nino Schurter, Florian Vogel and Mathias Flückiger. Half way through the race, Lukas found a “turbo” gear and steadily closed the gap to finally get the last spot on the podium. He isn’t 100% satisfied with his bronze medal “This is not the result I wanted. I had set high goals for myself for this race but things did not happen as expected unfortunately.” Ralph Näf finished in fourth place.
The BMC MTB Racing Team riders will represent their respective countries next weekend at the European Championships next week in Italy.
Photos: Velo Vert / Armin Kürstenbrück, EGO Promotion