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Balz Weber ploughing through the mud at the Swiss MTB Championships en route to third place; photo: Maxime Schmid
Balz Weber ploughing through the mud at the Swiss MTB Championships en route to third place; photo: Maxime Schmid

BMC MTB Racing: National Championships USA & Switzerland – title for Ettinger, Hediger & Hinkens 2nd, Weber 3rd, Tamararcaz 4th

18. July 2011

Sun Valley, ID/USA; Plaffeien/Schweiz

It was the weekend of national championships in mountainbiking. It was up to the United States and Switzerland to crown their champions. The BMC Mountainbike Development Team USA set the benchmark high on Saturday in Sun Valley, Idaho, for their European counterparts to match the following day in Plaffeien.

USA: Stephen Ettinger becomes U23 Champion ahead of teammate Jack Hinkens

The BMC benchmark is wearing stars and stripes. Stephen Ettinger was known to be the man to beat in the U23 cross-country race. Throughout the 2011 season, he has established himself as a leading force at the world class level of his age group. Top 10 placing at mtb world cups has been standard for the 22-year-old Montana-native. On the first descent, Ettinger lived up to his expectations as race favourite and got a gap on his competition that he kept until the finish. "This is unreal. I don't really know what to say" said the speechless Stephen Ettinger after his first-ever U.S. national champion title win. His BMC Mountainbike Development teammate Jack Hinkens rode his so-far strongest race of his career to place 2nd. The third BMC rider in the mix, Kerry Werner, finished another strong 5th.

MTB nation Switzerland: Balz Weber sprints to third against Nino Schurter

"It feels very good to be back on the podium finally". Balz Weber relief was apparent after he had placed third at the Swiss national cross country championship in the men's elite category. The World U23 Champion of 2003 has had several rough years and is riding better than ever since joining BMC Mountainbike Racing Team. The Swiss have been dominating the world of mountainbiking for years. In order to be up there at the Swiss championship, you have to put out world class performances.

Switzerland: downpour provides technical challenges

Balz Weber's 3th place and Julien Tamararcaz' 4th place finishes hence become all the more notable. "I prepared well for this race", explained Weber and revealed his tactics: "I knew the shape was there. From the start, I was in the front group of six riders. During the first lap, I kept testing my competition and rode a couple of attacks from the front. During laps two and three I almost crashed. That made me ride more cautious and destroyed my rhythm." Florian Vogel (Scott Swisspower) used this opportunity to ride away. Weber ended up duelling for second place with former world champion and national title defender Nino Schurter (Scott Swisspower). In the sprint to the finish line, Weber barely missed out and secured third place.

Tamararcaz surprises with 4th place

Julien Tamararcaz of BMC Mountainbike Racing Team probably was the biggest surprise of the championship. The former cyclocross rider is accustomed to wet, slippery surface and bad weather. In his first year as cross-country rider, he left behind many big names of the sport. Tamararcaz' and Weber's performances convinced team sports director Alexandre Moos to nominate the duo for the two remaining mtb world cup races in Czech Republic and Italy where they will join teammates Moritz Milatz and Patrik gallati. Gallati suffered from illness in Plaffeien and had to drop out.

Switzerland: Michelle Hediger runner-up in the U23

BMC was also present in the women's racing in Switzerland. Michelle Hediger of Team Fischer-BMC came into the U23 race as the title holder. The 2009 world junior runner-up only had to let go the new Swiss U23 champion Lorraine Truong to finish a respectable second.

Full results USA:
Full results Switzerland:
Post-race interview with Stephen Ettinger:
Team Twitter:!/BMCmtbRacing
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