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Spitz, Dahle-Flesjaa and Näf among the favorites this weekend
The penultimate round of this year's BMC Racing Cup will be staged this weekend on a new course in Davos, Switzerland. Last weekend's World Cup winner Sabine Spitz (Sabine Spitz Haibike), current marathon world champion Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjaa (Multivan Merida), Lukas Flückiger (BMC) and eliminator world champion Ralph Näf (BMC) are all slated to compete.
The women's race promises an interesting duel after, to everybody's surprise, the 41-year-old Sabine Spitz earned the second World Cup victory of her career last Saturday in Vallnord, Andorra. After a thrilling race, the 2008 Olympic Champion Spitz triumphed in a very close decision over Katerina Nash (Luna), Eva Lechner (Colnago Sudtirol) and her old rival Dahle Flesjaa, the 2004 Olympic champion and record World Cup winner who was fourth, just nine seconds behind Spitz.
Due to a shoulder injury suffered in May, Spitz had been out of action for seven weeks. Now that she is back in action, she's trying to get a bunch of racing in her legs. "It is still very important for me to get more competition practice and intensity," she said. She is also trying to accumulate more world ranking points.
Dahle-Flesjaa has participated in only a few races this season so far due to various illnesses ."For me it is important to get back into competition mode," she said.
Spitz's Haibike teammate Adelheid Morath, who suffered a broken collarbone in June while training for the European Championships in Bern, also appears among the best riders in the world. She finished her comeback race on 13th position last Saturday. Right behind her, was former world champion Irina Kalentieva from Russia. She will also be lining up at the start in Davos.
Giant team rider Jolanda Neff, who was seventh in Andorra, and European Marathon Champion Esther Süss will represent the Swiss aspirations in Davos. Süss was 12th last weekend in front of Morath and Kalentieva and said, "I was not quite satisfied with the rank, but I was happy with my performance."
Since she had entered the Andorra World Cup race without any high-altitude preparation, she will be well acclimatized, because she will travel from the Engadine to Davos.
"I am looking forward to this test of strength with Sabine and Gunn-Rita, which is always very nice. Let's see, how I can challenge them," said Süss. Of course, this is also true for the young talent Neff, who may as well defy these competitors who are twice her age.
However, there are two more Swiss women who will make for an exciting women's race: eliminator World Cup winner in Andorra Kathrin Stirnemann and Andrea Waldis.
Lukas Flückiger of BMC Racing Team is the defending champion. The man from Leimiswil will travel to Davos from the near Engadine and is hoping to overcome the disappointment about his 22nd place at the Andorra World Cup, where a mechanical was responsible for this setback.
"I will certainly incorporate the race on Sunday in my training program, but my form is good. If everything goes well, I should be able to be up front," said Flückiger.
His main rivals? Very likely Giant rider Fabian Giger. He was sixth in Andorra although hampered in the race by some tough luck. "My training is having a great effect. I am on the right path," said Giger.
The same will most likely hold true for Florian Vogel (Scott-Swisspower). He has just returned to the ranks of the world's best with an impressive seventh place at the World Cup in the Pyrenees last weekend.
The three of them will also have to contend with Flückiger's teammate Ralph Näf, who was unhappy about his 15th place result in Andorra, but clearly shows an upward trend. Since former European Champion Moritz Milatz (BMC) from Germany is also travelling to Davos "with some anger inside", the stage is set for a good race. Milatz had to abandon the World Cup race due to stomach cramps. For the same reasons, his teammate Martin Fanger did not line up for the start.
Multivan-Merida riders Thomas Litscher and José Antonio Hermida had to cope with disappointment at the World Cup and will try to make up for it this weekend
Race course changed
The Davos race course has been re-arranged. The start and finish have been moved to the Bünda grounds near Parsenn parking lot. The track is 5.0km long, and provides a jagged profile after a 500-meter climb. This profile should produce an interesting race.