Schurter and Süss aim to defend Swiss national titles

The Swiss cross country national championships will take place in Plaffeien. The winners this year will have the double honor of wearing the national champion's jersey at the world championships in Champery come September.

The course includes a 5.5km track of gravel roads, forest roads and singletrack through the Hapferenwald.

Last year in Plaffeien at a Racer Bikes Cup round, the race came down to the final descent as Nino Schurter won ahead of Florian Vogel. Lukas Flückiger was third. The three finished in the same order at the 2010 National Championships in Gränichen, too.

Others to watch this year include Martin Gujan, last year's U23 champion Matthias Flückiger, Martin Fanger (2009 winner) and Patrick Gallati.

In the women's race, defending champion Esther Süss will do everything she can to make it three titles in a row. Her toughest opponent is likely to be last year's runner-up Nathalie Schneitter, and European champion Kathrin Leumann. Sarah Koba and Marielle Saner-Guinchard are two others to watch.

In the Under 23 men's race, look out for Thomas Litscher, Matthias Stirnemann, Jérémy Huegenin, Reto Indergand, Roger Walder, Stefan Peter and Kevin Kreig.

Defending under 23 women's champion Kathrin Stirnemann will take on Michelle Hediger and Vivienne Meyer.

In the junior men's race, last year's U17 champion Andri Frischknecht will take on European cyclo-cross champion Lars Forster and Dominic Zumstein, Tobias Spescha, Valentin Berset and Enea Vetsch. Jolanda Neff and Linda Indergand will battle in the junior women's race with Andrea Waldis and Ramona Forchini.

Titles will also be awarded in the under 17 and masters categories.

The racing will get underway at 9:30 am on Sunday, July 17.

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