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Näf sidelined by illness

Ralph Näf will have to sit out the World Cup opener in South Africa this weekend due to illness.

Two weeks ago, the Swiss rider caught the stomach flu, from which he has not fully recovered. Rather than jeopardizing his future racing by undertaking the extensive travel to and from South Africa, he will stay home and continue preparation for the European World Cups.

"The season is long, and we don't want to risk retarding his recovery still further," said Team Manager Andreas Rottler. "He was clearly not recovered as of the Racer Bikes Cup this weekend, so our decision was clear." Näf pulled out of that race on Sunday after leading the race for the first four laps.

"We'd rather have him at the start as a contender for a win in Offenburg and Houffalize. In order to so, forfeiting one race is a necessity."

Naf added that his pre-sickness form was better than ever before. "If I get the chance to get back to my training and am patient, I should be back at my top level in no time," said Naf. "But competing in a race just to be there, without a chance for one of the top positions, is not a reason to travel all the way to South Africa."

Despite his absence, his Multivan Merida Biking Team will field a strong team at the World Cup including Jose Antonio Hermida, Moritz Milatz, Jochen Kass and Rudi van Hout. All are already in South Africa getting ready for the weekend of racing.

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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews.  She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.