The BMC Mountain Bike team was looking forward to going for the win at the Cape Epic mountain bike stage race starting on Sunday, March 17, but plans changed after Ralph Näf broke his collarbone. Näf was scheduled to compete in South Africa with teammate Lukas Flückiger.
Näf, who is the first-ever eliminator world champion, crashed during training and injured himself. He has already undergone surgery on his collarbone in Austria.
"Unfortunately, Ralph's crash this week forced us to postpone the start of the international racing season," said BMC Mountain Bike Team Sports Director Alexandre Moos. "Cape Epic is increasingly important as first big race on the calendar. With Ralph and Lukas Flückiger, we prepared to go for the win in South Africa. Ralph was reaching his top shape after and excellent winter, so we expect him to be back soon."
"After his crash, we considered all other options well, but decided that it did not make sense to send another team rider with Lukas to South Africa. We did not want to jeopardise the rest of the season as Cape Epic is an extremely demanding race."
"We will focus on the rest of the season and continue to work towards our first big objectives, the first BMC Racing Cup (Swiss Cup) and the first World Cup races. Ralph was reaching his top shape after and excellent winter, so we expect him to be back soon."
Another BMC racer Julien Absalon got his season underway last weekend with some regional racing.
"I am really happy with how things are going. I had a perfect winter and I am very pleased with the new equipment," said Absalon. "Finally making the step from 26-inch wheels to the BMC 29er gave me an additional motivational boost."
"My main objectives for the season are certainly the World Cup stages and general ranking, the European Championships in Bern and the Worlds in South Africa," said former world champ Absalon. "The World Cup season starts rather late, so it will be a packed season between May and September. But we have a big team and worked out a solid year planning. We are at least four riders that can win the important races, so we have many options to go for."
The BMC Mountain Bike Team includes four of the top 20-ranked male mountain bikers in the world. They recently completed a training camp at Cap Esterel, France. The team spent time training and testing equipment together on the Roc d’Azur trails. This year, the team's riders are Francois Bailly-Maître, Jérémy Huguenin, Julien Taramarcaz, Flückiger, Absalon, Stephen Ettinger, Näf, Martin Fanger, Moritz Milatz, Reto Indergand, Matthias Stirnemann and Florian Golay.