The Multivan Merida mountain bike team presented its riders for 2014 to the media in Mallorca. Team Manager Fabian Aust hopes to continue to build on the squad's success from 2013.
Among the highlights from last year were Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå winning her ninth rainbow striped jersey at the marathon Worlds. Jose Hermida also earned a bronze medal at the cross country Worlds while he and his teammates claimed top team honors at two of the World Cup rounds and second overall. Finally, Ondrej Cink, Hermida and Dahle Flesjå claimed titles at their respective Spanish, Czech and Norwegian nationals.
Team photos, sponsor schmoozing and training rides filled up the training camp as new rider Julian Schelb, the reigning under 23 world champion, got to meet his new teammates.
"By signing Julian Schelb, the team continues its drive to rejuvenate its line-up step by step," said Aust. "This strategy has netted us some spectacular successes last year. Of course I'm convinced that Schelb's character is a superb fit for the team as well."
The team's 2014 line-up features six riders. At age 41, Dahle Flesjå is not the least bit tired. The Norwegian has high ambitions to win her 10th world championships in 2014 in front of her home crowd. Another goal of hers is to win her 29th World Cup round, which would make her the most successful athlete ever in the history of the World Cup.
Thirty-five-year-old José Hermida is another experienced veteran in the team. The Spaniard intends to return to the kind of consistency that kept him near the top of the World Cup's overall standings for a full decade.
At age 30, Rudi van Houts managed to score his first top 10 finish at a World Cup, a feat he wants to repeat in 2014. In addition, the Dutch man wants to make the podium at marathon Worlds in Pietermaritzburg.
Cink was the biggest sensation of last year, finishing the season in fifth both in the World Cup's overall standings and in the UCI world ranking. The young Czech rider wants to confirm the strong performances he showed in his first year as an elite rider.
Having overcome persistent saddle sore issues, Thomas Litscher is back to his old strength and a likely contender for a World Cup podium result.
The team added young riders Cink and Litscher last year and Schelb is new for this year. "By gradually rejuvenating the team's line-up, Merida is setting things up for the future, stressing the long-term character of its commitment to the sport," said Andreas Rottler, Director of Sports Marketing. "It's all but common that a brand gets to present two world champions at its media camp, and this is a result of our long-term oriented work."
At the end of February, the riders will head over to Cyprus for the Sunshine Cup, their first race of the 2014 season.