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World Champion Nino Schurter (Scott Swisspower)
World champion Schurter, teammate Vogel aim to repeat winning ways
With just one week to go until its season opening race in Italy, the Scott Swisspower Team is feeling well prepared and motivated according to team manager Thomas Frischknecht.
The team's riders have been busy training in climates warmer than where many of them reside. World Champion Nino Schurter has been logging the miles with his teammate Patrik Gallati in South Africa, while Florian Vogel has chosen to stay a bit closer to home, training in southern France.
The Scott Swisspower riders will race the second edition of the SRAM XX Maremma Cup as their first race. The competition should be tough with all of the Olympic mountain bike champions slated to line up at the start (Miguel Martinez, Bart Brentjens, Julien Absalon).
The Maremma Cup will also mark the first time all three podium finishers from the 2009 cross country World Championships race each other in 2010: Schurter, Absalon and Vogel.
Plenty of other Europeans are going to make it tough for Vogel and Schurter to repeat their one-two finish at one of last year's Maremma Cup cross country rounds last year. European champion Ralph Näf, Spaniards Jose Antonio Hermida, Ruben Ruzafa and Inaki Lejaretta, Italian Marco Aurelio Fontana and Frenchman Cederic Ravanel are on the start list.
The Maremma Cup will feature two cross country races in Massa Marittima on February 28 and March 7. There will also be four short track races with two in Massa Marittima, one in Porto San Stefano and one in Grosseto.
The event, with its title sponsor SRAM, is aiming to build the Maremma Cup into a European version of the famous Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California.
"With the best riders of the world, a sensational racetrack and hopefully nice Tuscan atmosphere, we are on the best way in this direction," said Frischknecht, who is helping organize the event.
"Together with Ernesto Hutmacher and the local organization committee, I'm very proud to host the mountain bike world at my second home. Massa Marittima is the place to be at the beginning of March."