The BMC Racing Cup, formerly known as the Swiss Racer Bikes Cup, will kick off this weekend in Buchs, Switzerland. The national series, popular among central Europeans, is in its 19th season and has a new title sponsor.
"We look forward to seven great events to experience here in Switzerland," said Andi Seeli, the series director. "The BMC Racing Cup will be a key pillar of youth development in cross country. We will not deviate from our approach as an innovative and high quality race series." New venues for 2012 include Davos and Balgach while Tesserete, Solothurn, Gränichen, Buchs and Basel return as hosts of various rounds.
The man to watch on Sunday will be Pietermaritzburg World Cup winner Nino Schurter.
"For me it is not the best route, as it has a long climb. Nevertheless, I will use the race as good preparation for the next World Cup race," said Schurter. "It's motivating to have a race so close to home."
Schurter's top fellow Swiss challengers are likely to be Lukas Flückiger, Swiss champion Florian Vogel, Ralph Naef and Thomas Litscher, who are contenders for the coveted Swiss Olympic team spots. German Moritz Milatz is the likely top contender among the non-Swiss riders, but German Wolfram Kurschat and Italian Tony Longo are others to watch while Martin Gujan will enjoy his local advantage.
German Sabine Spitz and Russian Irina Kalentieva are likely to battle it out for top honors in the women's race. Local hero Sarah Koba has finished well in the past and could do so again. Others to watch are Sabrina Mason and Corina Gantenbein,
The course in Buchs will be the same as the one raced two years ago. It is 4.1km long and features a long climb and a long, technically challenging descent to an old brewery.
800 racers from 10 countries are expected to compete over two days. The elite and junior racers will race on Sunday, April 1.
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