Maloja Pushbikers enter new season with plenty of optimism

8. March 2021

Our MTB team will again compete as a UCI Elite Team in the World Cup and the Continental road team wants to achieve a top 3 in the German Europe Tour Ranking

The welcome news from the International Cycling Union arrived in the last week of January. The Maloja Pushbikers mountain bike team will be granted UCI Elite Team status in 2021, meaning they will continue to race in the top division. After a difficult Corona year in 2020, the relief of the MTB team bosses Matthias Beck and Fabian Haug was palpable, also because they have a lot planned for the new year. With three new additions to the team, the aim is to achieve World Cup podium finishes again this year and a position among the top 10 teams in the World Cup is the declared goal. Four of the six riders in the Allgäu team also have good chances of qualifying for the Olympics in Tokyo.

Since 2020, the MTB World Cup Team and the Maloja Pushbikers road team have been competing under one roof. The Pushbikers project is intended to create connections: Between road cycling and mountain biking, between performance and a healthy, sports-oriented life. At the same time, Maloja Pushbikers also attaches great importance to close contact between professional sport and the community. “We want to pursue a modern competitive sport with passion and love, make cycling accessible to as many people as possible and inspire them to do so. That’s what drives us,” says founder and Pushbikers team manager Christian Grasmann. An approach that is also supported by the sponsors. In addition to the four main sponsors Maloja, Wiawis, L’Osteria and Berchtesgadener Milchwerke, the team has succeeded in winning almost all sponsors for the joint project.

While the mountain bikers are already at home among the world’s elite, the professionals in the road team are also looking upwards, even though the density of teams and athletes on the road is incomparably greater. Last year, the Maloja Pushbikers were Germany’s number five road team in the UCI Europe Tour Ranking. This year, the aim is to move up one or two places. An ambitious goal, considering that the first two places in the rankings are already taken by the World Teams Bora-hansgrohe and Team DSM. The team also wants to fight its way into the top 30 European teams in the rankings. Rupert Hödlmoser, Sporting Director Road, has drawn up a strategic five-year plan in recent months, at the end of which the team is aiming for a pro team license by 2026.

The Pushbikers create connections

The Maloja Pushbikers are now also on the road with professional team in the mountain bike world cup
The Maloja Pushbikers are now also on the road with professional team in the mountain bike world cup
The Maloja Pushbikers are now also on the road with professional team in the mountain bike world cup
The Maloja Pushbikers are now also on the road with professional team in the mountain bike world cup

We are looking forward to our new faces, new challenges and a lot of cycling with heart and soul.

Despite the high goals, those responsible for the road team want to remain true to their chosen path of developing young, talented riders, mainly from southern Germany, into high-performance professionals. The road team has also strengthened itself with riders from abroad. These include the 20-year-old Polish talent Michal Galka, who rode for the CCC Development Team last season and is considered one of the future time trial specialists in his home country, and the Briton Jacques Sauvagnargues from the Trinity Racing Team. Nine of the total of twelve riders, however, come from Germany. Of the riders from 2020, Yannik Achterberg, Corey Davis, Mikà Heming, Tobias Hornstein, Franz Schlachter, Helmut Trettwer as well as Tim Wollenberg were re-signed with the road team. “We are convinced of them, even if one or the other still has to come out of his shell and find his qualities,” says Sporting Director Rupert Hödlmoser. Daniel Bichlmann from Team Bike Aid was signed on as the experienced team captain. He is joined as a junior rider by Paul Taebling (previously of LKT Team Brandenburg), who will contest his last U23 year in 2021, and Laurin von Stetten, who comes from the RSV Irschenberg e. V.’s own junior team and most recently developed as a mountain rider with Team Auto-Eder.

The first training camp for the road team is taking place these days at Lake Garda and there it’s a matter of finding each other – not only athletically, but also on a human level and in accordance with the Maloja Pushbikers core values of passion, respect, courage and community. “If we succeed in doing that, then I see a lot of potential for 2021,” Hödlmoser lets on. Three podium finishes in UCI races and a classification jersey are the team’s basic goals. Another goal is to be eligible for the Tour of Germany for the first time. “In addition to the squad, the race calendar is of course also decisive if we want to achieve the long-term goal of the Pro Team licence,” Hödlmoser emphasises.

Maloja Pushbikers MTB will start the 2021 season with three male and three female riders. In addition to Karla Štěpánová , Fabian Giger and Jan Vastl, the Hungarian rider Barbara Benko and Lia Schrievers from Germany could be signed up. Shlomy Haimy, national champion from Israel, also strengthens the team. “We are looking forward to the coming season, where we expect our riders to finish among the world’s elite,” says Matthias Beck confidently. In order to be in a better position for the future, the team wants to rely more on its own young talent, similar to the road team. The development of a national league junior team is planned until the end of 2021.

The 2021 jersey reveals dynamism, strength and confidence

The Maloja Pushbikers are now also on the road with professional team in the mountain bike world cup
The Maloja Pushbikers are now also on the road with professional team in the mountain bike world cup
The Maloja Pushbikers are now also on the road with professional team in the mountain bike world cup
The Maloja Pushbikers are now also on the road with professional team in the mountain bike world cup
That leaves the hint of the new jersey design. As always, the designers at Maloja have given a glimpse into the collection theme of the coming year for the new Pushbikers outfit. In keeping with the optimism at Pushbikers, this has a lot to do with confidence, symbolised by a glowing sunset. “A sunset is always accompanied by something mysterious and fascinating,” notes team boss Grasmann. “On our jersey, it signals dynamism, strength and confidence. Three attributes that we not only carry visually to the outside world, but that accompany the entire team from the ground up this year.”
Photos | Urs Golling

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