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A look at the school, the races and the future of this unique 'sport'
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Ondrej Cink (Czech Republic) wins the under 23 men's race at the 2012 MTB world championships
Young Czech rider strengthens mountain bike squad
Under 23 cross country mountain bike world champion Ondrej Cink has signed with the Multivan Merida Biking Team for the next two years. The mountain biker has been racing for the Czech Merida distributor's race team, Merida Biking Team.
"Stepping up to the Multivan Merida Biking Team is a big thing for me. Next year I want to establish myself in the top 20 in World Cup races, and in the mid-term Rio de Janeiro's Olympic games are my big goal."
Throughout the 2012 World Cup, Cink was one of the strongest riders in the under 23 category. At the world championships in Saalfelden, Austria, he capped of a good season with the world championship title. In a thrilling duel, Cink managed to beat this year's under 23 World Cup overall winner Michiel van der Heijden. He also won this year's European championships in Moscow and finished the 2012 London Olympic Race in 14th.
These successes opened the doors for his promotion from the Czech Merida team to the Taiwanese manufacturer's World Cup team. As the manager of the Multivan Merida Biking Team, Andreas Rottler said, "We are glad to welcome Ondrej Cink to our team. And we are convinced that he will find ideal surroundings with us to become a serious contender for top results in the elite category as well. After all, we already have two riders that have been under 23 World champion in our team with José Hermida and Thomas Litscher."
Cink started mountain biking at the age of 13, following the suggestion of a good friend. Asked about his strengths and shortcomings, he said, "My biggest strength is that I can keep a cool head in the heat of racing action and stay on top of things. And of course I am quite a strong climber. On the other hand, I know that I can still improve in terms of riding skills"
Cink also revealed that his idol in sports is not a cyclist, but is Usain Bolt.
By signing Cink, the Multivan Merida Biking Team shows it is planning for the future. At the same time, Cink will be able to benefit from the vast experience of riders such as José Hermida and Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå.
"This mix of young, hungry riders and enormously experienced riders is perfect, as both sides can profit from each other," said Rottler. "Of course, we have to pay Merida Czechia a compliment : They have recognized Ondrej's talent very early and supported him ever since, and so far the under 23 World championship title has been the highlight of all this."