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The Multivan Merida Team rode away with victories in the elite men's and women's races at the first round of the German Mountain Bike Bundesliga series on Sunday. Under awful conditions, Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå proved to be the strongest in the women's race, whereas Rudi van Houts won the men's race.
For quite some years, Münsingen has hosted the German season's opener. And due to its altitude, racing in April in Münsingen often happens in poor conditions. This year's race was no exception: heavy rain, hail storms, a bit of sunshine, low temperatures and a bitter win shaped the race.
Dahle Flesjå had already won four times in Münsingen and the Norwegian picked this event as the place where she would race Merida's 29er hardtail for the first time. From the first lap, Dahle Flesjå took the lead and extended it all the way to the finish, where it amounted to almost two minutes.
"After having surveyed the Olympic course in London, I already knew that I would ride the Big.Nine at the Olympics. So I was excited to see how things went aboard the 29er in Münsingen. Seeing the severe conditions we were facing today, I am completely convinced that the Big.Nine is going to be my choice of bike for the rest of the season!
"My form is spot-on and everything went really well today, especially as I had spent a somewhat busy week with quite some travelling before."
A hailstorm set in just as the men's race was about to start. During the first part of the race, Rudi van Houts was among the leaders. A massive crash involving the first five riders on a descent on the first lap caused riders like Nino Schurter to abandon with a broken handlebar. Van Houts closed in on the leaders toward the end of the race and then dropped them in a technical section.
"I got the fastest line spot-on and managed to get away by a couple of metres," said Van Houts. "In the end I managed to extend my lead, but the race should not have lasted any longer as I was feeling first symptoms of cramps in my legs!"
It was Van Hout's first-ever win in the Mountain Bike Bundesliga, one he won't forget for its gruelling conditions.
Van Houts' teammate Jochen Käß pulled the plug partway through the race due to the miserable conditions: His hands were so cold that he could barely squeeze the brake levers.
It was not the first double victory at Münsingen for Multivan Merida. The team previously accomplished the feat in 2007, when Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå and Ralph Näf both won. Näf sat out this round following a crash last weekend.