Youthful passion, professional experience and a hunger for success marked the Felt Ötztal X-Bionic World Cup team presentation for the 2011 season. The UCI-registered mountain bike team is racing under the motto "Driven by emotion!".
The team, backed by American bike manufacturer Felt, the Swiss clothing company X-Bionic and the Austrian holiday region of Ötztal, heads into its second season.
Swiss Thomas Litscher, who finished second at the Under 23 cross country world championship last year and ambitious Australian Under 23 racer Paul Van Der Ploeg join the team for 2011.
At the Worlds in Switzerland this year, Litscher is hoping to win the title he narrowly missed last year. In the mean time, he'll be mixing it up with the elite riders at the World Cups. The young rider may be faster than ever after recently finishing off his required military service.
Van Der Ploeg claimed his second Oceania Championship title in a row this past weekend and easily secured the win in the Under 23 Australian National Series with his performance. With his second place in the elite short track, he claimed the overall title in the short track, too.
Austrian Charly Markt got the team off to a good start in 2011 with an overall win at the Cyprus Sunshine Cup, proving he's even stronger than last year. He raced to victory ahead of marathon world champion Alban Lakata and World Cup overall Jaroslav Kulhavy.
"It was a great feeling, and I'd like it to go on," said Markt of his success in Cyprus.
Another Austrian, Simon Scheiber, is making the move to the elite ranks for this season. His goals are to gain experience and take advantage of his talents.
Slovenian national champion Blaza Klemencic is heading up the team's women. Her big goals are a World Cup podium finish and a medal at the marathon world championships in late June in Italy.
Also on the team, Adelheid Morath will have to prove herself after a tough vascular surgery and subsequent recovery. The German Olympian is spending the first part of the season on a strict rehabilitation program as she copes with the physical and mental rigors of rehab.
Frenchwoman Sabrina Enaux completes the women's trio. Enaux will again target the World Cup. She is hoping for a stronger season, building on her top 20 World Cup finishes of previous years, and has changed her training over the winter with this goal in mind.
2011 Felt Ötztal X-Bionic World Cup team
Sabrina Enaux (France)
Blaza Klemencic (Slovenia)
Charly Markt (Austria)
Adelheid Morath (Germany)Thomas Litscher (Switzerland)
Simon Scheiber (Austria)
Paul van der Ploeg (Australia)