The women's Colnago-Südtirol mountain bike team got its 2013 season off to a good start. The team chose to keep its roster the same as in 2012 with Eva Lechner and Nathalie Schneitter as its established elite riders and younger riders like 2012 junior world champion Andrea Waldis, Julia Innerhofer and Lisa Rabensteiner.
"We now have an experienced team with Eva and Nathalie, and we are able to ride with the best in World Cup," said Team Manager Edmund Telser.
"Our goals include top positions in the overall UCI World Cup ranking and medals at the European and World Championships. Following a difficult year plagued with injuries, Nathalie's goal is to fight her way back to the top. We expect our younger riders, Andrea, Julia and Lisa, to gain experience in the U23 World Cup category and to qualify for European and world championships."
The first mountain bike tests of 2013 came for Lechner and Waldis at the Cyprus Sunshine Cup. Lechner finished fourth in the CSC's stage race while Waldis was ninth overall and second among the U23s. Lechner had plowed straight into the mountain bike season after she finished within seconds of the podium at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Louisville.
After a short road racing diversion at the Energiewacht Holland Tour, where Lechner managed to win the Club Riders Tricot (the award for the best non-pro team), and a training camp in Prad, South Tyrol, the team was ready to really kick off its mountain bike season at the Marlene Sunshine Race in Nalles, South Tyrol, last weekend.
The Colnago-Südtirol women rocked the race on their home turf and filled the podium at the eliminator with Lechner on top, followed by Schneitter in second, Innerhofer in third and Waldis in fifth place.
In the cross country race, Lechner took control from the start and was was able to attack in an uphill section with two laps to go. She won the race with a half-minute advantage. It was the fourth time she took the win at the Sunshine Race. No less successful were Waldis, who won in the U23 category and Rabensteiner, who finished second and currently leads in the Europa Cup U23 ranking.
"I love racing at home and to show that I am strong to my fans and the spectators," said Lechner. "I was able to ride my own rhythm throughout the race, attack in the right moment and implement the tactics I had planned. I am very happy with today's win; being successful on home ground is always nice."