The first highlights of the XC season are near. The cross-country riders of the Lexware mountain bike team used the race in Buchs, Switzerland last Sunday as a competitive challenge. The junior driver Luca Schwarzbauer was able to impressively outperform the competition and secure his first win of the season. Before we head to the KMC Bundesliga, team boss Daniel Berhe answers important questions about the team from the Upper Black Forest in an interview.
Daniel, the mountain bike season is slowly picking up speed. For the juniors, the first important race is only two weeks away, for the older ones the World Cup is only three weeks away. How satisfied are you with the state of preparations in the Lexware mountain bike team?
Very satisfied. The boys make a good impression, the performance diagnostics indicate progress. Even with U23 champion Christian Pfäffle, who had problems with the patella tendon in December. We can start the 2014 season with optimism. Our marathon group Matthias Bettinger and Heiko Gutmann have already cycled many kilometers due to the mild winter.
There have already been a few competitions. Georg Egger has already had a taste of competition in Cyprus and Markus Bauer delivered a remarkable race in Ticino last Sunday.
That's right, ninth place in such a world-class field was a very encouraging sign.
You have strengthened your team with two well-known talents for this season. It looks as if the team's focus will continue to be on promoting young talent?
Yes, that is indeed the case. The youth work in the U19 and U23 area is very important to us. We really enjoy working with young people. The two talents Georg Egger and Lars Koch from Furtwangen are new to the team. We have had very good contact with both athletes for a long time. Of course, we are particularly pleased that Lars has made the leap from the junior team to the top. With him, Luca Schwarzbauer and David Horvath, all three juniors are in the national squad, as are Egger and Pfäffle in the U23s and Bauer in the elite. So we are in an excellent position.
At the team presentation in 2013 you said that the team is a stepping stone for young athletes who should be paved the way to professional sport. Did you succeed with Julian Schelb and Hanna Klein?
I said that and we will continue to do so. We are very pleased that Julian Schelb has made the leap into a professional team. This also applies to Hanna Klein, who is now under contract in the team of the Olympic champion from France. That was our goal from the start. This would not have been possible without the long-term commitment of Lexware and other sponsors.
You continue the work, but the team will appear as the Lexware Mountain Bike Team in the future. It is said that the Rothaus brewery only made the decision in October to withdraw from sponsorship of the Fusion project. Is that true and what are the effects of the exit on young mountain bikers in the region?
Yes, that's right. We only found out about the exit in late autumn. Rothaus withdraws from the sponsorship of the mountain bike
The junior team is broader this year and more closely linked to SV Kirchzarten. How did that happen?
The Lexware mountain bike team emerged from the successful youth work of SV Kirchzarten. Our concern is to promote mountain bike youth more broadly. Among other things, former racing drivers such as Fabian Strecker (4th Junior World Championships 2008) get involved in youth training. Another ex-national driver, Daniel Gottschall, works as a technical trainer. The experienced athletes, who have learned the basics of mountain biking in the Lexware team, pass on their experience to young athletes. So we come full circle.
The team is therefore still designed as a junior team. Are there no efforts to grow into the elite or even professional area?
At the moment our focus is clearly on supporting young mountain bikers. But you should never say never. Athletes like Christian Pfäffle and Georg Egger or the U17 drivers Torben Drach and Anna Saier are already in the starting blocks. We would like to lead you and a few others to the top of the world in the next few years.
What are your goals for the team in the 2014 season?
We want to continue to be present in the U19 and U23 among the German and the extended world elite and expand our position as much as possible. That means continuing to enable young athletes to get there.
And for yourself in your role as team leader?
My personal goals remain the same as in recent years. I want to give young athletes emerging from high school the sport and academic support they need to be successful in sport and beyond. Success in school and success in competitive sports go hand in hand.