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Swiss star Urs Huber will hope to fly both his nation's and the Team Bulls flags high at the 2014 UCI MTB Marathon World Championships in Pietermaritzburg.
Team Bulls to be well represented in South Africa
Current world ranked number two Urs Huber and a gaggle of the Swiss star's Team Bulls teammates are eager to charge at this year's UCI Marathon World Championships which will take place in Pietermaritzburg on Sunday, June 29.
Huber, no stranger to the South African mountain bike scene after numerous Cape Epics and a handful of MTN National MTB Series legs, Grape Escapes and Tankwa Treks under his belt, will lead a strong six-man Team Bulls contingent to 'Maritzburg.
Although, this time around, the regular riding buddies will go head to head as they exchange their regular team gear for the colours of their home nation.
"I have been to South Africa many times before to race and to train in during the European winter - so many times I can't even count!" said Huber.
"South Africa is the perfect country for mountain biking, the people are friendly, the weather is almost always good, the trails are perfect and my second place at this year's Cape Epic is a recent example of the many nice memories I have of racing in South Africa, so I'm really looking forward to racing Worlds there this year."
Although a regular top performer on the international circuit, the 28-year-old is yet to clinch the prestigious rainbow striped sorld champion's jersey in his illustrious career. His best result yet is a third place in 2008.
"Although the Cape Epic was important for me, the world champs is my primary focus this year," said Huber.
"The rainbow jersey is the most beautiful thing that you can have as a marathon rider! Although I would love to win it, my goal for Worlds this year is to be on the start line in my best possible shape and then I'm sure I'll be able to fight for a medal!"
Huber believes the regular favourites Christoph Sauser and Alban Lakata will again be in the mix however he also feels some of his cross country compatriots, if they make the journey, could too be at the front of the field.
"There are a lot of strong riders at the moment. (Jaroslav) Kulhavy, (Moritz) Milatz, (Ralph) Naef and (Kristian) Hynek I'm sure will all be up there with Sauser and Lakata.
"Even though I don't know anything at all about the course, I am 100% and 100% happy with my preparations so far and I know that I can ride with everyone who will be on the start line, so I will try to do just that.
Huber believes he is in perfect condition heading into this year's encounter and will enjoy a tough final few hit outs back home before he makes the journey over to South Africa.
"I had a really good first half of the year and some really nice successes like winning the Sabie Classic in South Africa and the legendary Ronda Extrema in Italy.
Next up for him is the European Marathon Championships in Ireland next weekend, then the Sella Ronda in Spain the week before world champs.
"I'm sure I'll be in good form when I get to South Africa," said Huber confidently.
Karl Platt and Thomas Dietsch are two others who usually bear the Team Bulls colours and will be tackling the 2014 UCI Marathon World Championships in Pietermaritzburg with Germany's Platt, like Huber, hoping to find himself on the podium in Pietermaritzburg in a few weeks' time and Dietsch of France is hoping to finish closer to his 2007 second place and 2004 third than the 41st he achieved last year.
"I don't know much about the course but I know the area and the terrain and I think it will suit me," said Platt. "I have won the Cape Epic four times before, and other races, but I've never finished on the podium at World Champs. Now it's time!"
"The world camps are my main focus for the year and if I can get a top 15, I will be very happy!" added Dietsch.
Team Bulls' German trio of Tim Boehme, Simon Stiebjahn and Stefan Sahm have also confirmed their participation in this year's marathon Worlds.