Tough luck tests Merida in Fort William

At the World Cup in Fort William, tough luck kept José Hermida and Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå (Multivan Merida) from scoring top finishes. Dahle Flesjå lost a brake lever in the first lap of her race, while Hermida suffered a flat as he made part of a lead group early on in the race.

Fort William’s women’s race was won by Canada’s Marie-Hélène Premont ahead of Marga Fullana. Thus Premont extended her lead in the worldcup’s overall ranking. The though luck that Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå suffered in the race’s first lap was barely imagineable:

After a tangle in the first lap Dahle Flesjå lost one of her brake levers, forcing her to ride the first lap without a rear brake, which cost her several positions on the long downhill after a good start. At the repair zone, team mechanic Ralph Tiede showed a record-worthy performance. Within less than a minute, he dismounted a brake lever from a back-up bike and mounted it on the Norwegian's bike. The quick intervention allowed Dahle Flesjå a chance to catch up from 39th and still finish eighth.

For Dahle Flesjå, this mishap was kind of a déja-vu experience: In 2006, the Norwegian suffered a flat tire in the first lap on the same course only to catch up with the entire field from way back. Back then, she finished in fourth position. Speaking of this year's misfortune, she said, "That really was a lot of tough luck here, but it can happen. The fast lap times have shown me that I might have finished way up front under normal circumstances though."

Hermida was riding in a lead group together with podium finishers Christoph Sauser, Florian Vogel and Nino Schurter. But he was dropped when he suffered a flat tire and had to walk for almost a kilometre before getting a fix. His bad luck was compounded, however, when he suffered a second flat.

"A top finish would have been well within my capabilities. When I took the lead together with the Swiss guys, I really thought that this was the day it might work out," said Hermida at the finish, but he added that he was fully focussed on August 23 when he is hoping for better luck at the Beijing Olympic games.

Their team-mate Ralph Näf also suffered some misfortune when he had to sit out the competition due to the stomach flu. Näf is planning to compete at the worlds in Italy next week.

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