Normally, Switzerland's Ralph Näf (Multivan Merida) would have been one of the hot contenders for the win at the upcoming mountain bike marathon world championships. One year ago, he won the European championship title on the same course. But Näf has decided not to start in order to give himself more time to prepare for the upcoming World Cup races in Canada and the United States during the first two weekends of July. Näf has been trying to heal his injured back.
"I still have some very serious problems with my back. It is getting better and better, but a marathon race would actually be the worst to do," said Näf.
"I want to get some important World Cup points in Canada and the USA and come back to top shape with the help of my team physiotherapist."
Näf won the marathon world title in 2006 in Oisans, France.
Although Näf will not be racing, several of his teammates still have high hopes for the marathon Worlds. For Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå, this race is one of the highlights of her season. One year ago at the European championships, she rode to a second-place finish on the same course that is named after her, and she is going into this world championships in much better form.
Andreas Kugler is in a similar situation, having won the bronze medal and having joined Näf on the podium a year ago. With Jochen Käss and Hannes Genze, the Multivan Merida Biking Team has two more riders with ambitions for a strong result at the start. The pair finished second overall at the Cape Epic mountain bike stage race earlier this season, and Genze finished fourth at the European Marathon Championships.