Germans won both the men's and women's races at the first round of the German MTB-Bundesliga, a first in a long time as no German had won the women's category since 2002 or the men's category since 2003.
In the women's race, Sabine Spitz (Central GHOST Pro Team) took victory ahead of Sabrina Enaux (Team LAPIERRE International) and World Champion Irina Kalentieva (Topeak Ergon Racing Team). Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Multivan Merida Biking Team) started the women's race and led for the first two laps. Then Spitz caught and passed the 2004 Olympic Champion. Dahle followed her, but then pulled out before completing her third lap.
Dahle Flesjaa said later that she wanted to save energy for the World Cup at Houffalize, in Belgium, this coming Sunday. "I need longer to recover from a complete race because of my illness last year. So I decided to race hard and short. Next Sunday I hope to race hard and long," she said smiling.
So Spitz suddenly had a big gap and the six-time German national champion put in a strong solo ride and was able to enjoy the last lap, cheered by a crowd of some thousands of spectators. "Last lap I thought about winning again here in Münsingen and it was a good feeling," Spitz said after taking her third spring classic win. She also won in 2001 and 2002.
Enaux put in a surprise effort for her second place, and Kalentieva said after the race that she had problems in the beginning. "I hoped for getting better and later I felt better, but it was too late. But it's early in the season, I don't have to win every race," the Russian said.
New Zealand's Rosara Joseph (Team GHOST International) fought with Kalentieva and Enaux for half the race. Until the beginning of the last lap, she was with Kalentieva but then couldn't follow the Russian girl. "It was great to race her. The crowd was very noisy," said Joseph.
In men's race, after one lap it looked likely to become a duel between German champion Wolfram Kurschat (Topeak Ergon Racing Team) and European champion José Antonio Hermida (Multivan Merida Biking Team). The Spaniard caught Kurschat in second lap after a harmless crash by Kurschat. Then Hermida was in front but had to stop to fix his derailleur. Kurschat passed and stayed in front until the end.
But with two laps to go, more bad luck struck Hermida. He had reduced the gap to Kurschat from 30 to 15 seconds, when he realized that his front tire was loosing air. He decided not stop and refill. "Maybe it was the wrong decision, but I thought if I lose time again, I have no chance to win. At least I always lost time in the curves," he said.
Ergon-Topeak rider Kurschat was happy to grab his first career victory in Münsingen. "My shape is extremely good. I never pushed over the limit but could press the gas pedal whenever I want to."
Defending champion Ralph Näf (Multivan Merida Biking Team) missed the first attack and then didn't want to bring competitors up to his Multivan-Merida team-mate Hermida. He finished a safe third place against hard-chasing Peter Riis Andersen. "I' felt good. My legs were better compared to some weeks before," Näf said.
See full coverage of the German MTB-Bundesliga round one.