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Olympic team members excel at Swiss nationals

By:
Dave McElwaine in West Dover, Vermont
Published:
July 23, 2008, 0:00 BST,
Updated:
April 20, 2009, 21:41 BST
Edition:
MTB news & racing round-up for July 23, 2008

Olympic team members won three of the four elite and U23 races at the Swiss National Championships...

Olympic team members won three of the four elite and U23 races at the Swiss National Championships last weekend in Seon. Florian Vogel, Nino Schurter and Nathalie Schneitter won their elite men's, U23 men's and U23 women's Swiss National titles while Katrin Leumann, won the elite women's race. Leumann was the only non-Olympic team member to win a Swiss U23 or elite national.

The weather held out until the last race with the elite men. For the men, Swisspower's Thomas Frischknecht, Jürg Graf, Florian Vogel and Till Marx and Athleticum's Lukas Flückiger and Martin Gujan were fast from the start. Then, from lap three on, Vogel, Graf and Gujan were at the front and just before the half-way point, Vogel made his move and got away. He enlarged his lead for the rest of the race and collected his first elite national title.

"The tactic worked. I'm overjoyed and of course that gives me extra motivation for Beijing," said Vogel. Dethroned champion Jürg Graf was happy with his performance and third place. Flückiger, who finished second, recognized Vogel's superiority for the day.

In the elite women's race, 26 year-old Kathrin Baslerin Leumann rode a decisive first lap and went on to win a championship ahead of Marielle Saner and Maroussia Rusca. Favorite Petra Henzi struggled on the technically challenging course and finished a disappointing fourth.

"I started with dry tires and when the rain started, I had to switch to rain tires and needed almost a lap again until I was away from Mathias," said Schurter of his fourth-U23 championship.

U23 woman Nathalie Schneitter won her race, even after her plane was delayed in Paris and landed just one hour before the race in Basel. She was delivered to the start by helicopter with just minutes to spare. Kathrin Stirnemann, last year's junior European champion, would have to settle for second, and Corina Gantenbein finished third.

Vivienne Meyer collected her third junior title this year while the junior men and masters saw tight races. Mirko Widmer won the junior men's race in a sprint while defending master's champion Roland Abächerli narrowly beat local Roland Häfeli

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the Swiss National Championships.

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