Orbea upstart adds clout to the German World Cup contingent
Napa World Cup winner José Antonio Hermida might not be a household name in mountain-bike racing, but standing next to the under-23 world champion on the first World Cup podium of the 2001 season last month was someone even more unfamiliar to fans. So you could hardly blame Hermida when he goofed on the guy’s name.
While talking with reporters, Hermida said, “I put an attack on the uphill and I [caught] Thomas.”
The 26-year-old German sitting immediately to the right of Hermida interrupted: “Marc.”
“Oh, Marc,” apologized Hermida.
“No problem. Don’t feel sorry for me today,” answered Marc Hanisch, whose 2000 World Cup ranking of 77th hardly hinted at this sort of potential, a second-place finish in the season opener. Before Napa, Hanisch, who rides for the Orbea team, could point to last year’s 21st place at St. Wendel, Germany, as his best World Cup result.
How do you explain the sudden rise? “I wanted to surprise some people,” offered the matter-of-fact German who, along with last year’s skyrocketing Lado Fumic, represents a powerful duo from Germany that outshone even the French at Napa. Fumic, now sporting the familiar pink Telekom colors made famous by Jan Ullrich on the road, finished fifth at Napa, making Germany the only nation to land two in the top-five.
Hanisch, who said he prefers the more technical courses, pointed to the rain at Napa as an advantage. “I was feeling
in good shape, but I didn’t expect to go so strong,” he said.
And Hermida agreed, saying that Hanisch powered the lead group of three that also included Italian Marco Bui of the Marin-Helly Hansen team.
After the surprising finish, Hanisch wasn’t making any predictions about the remainder of the season. When asked what he thought about his chances in the remaining seven races, he waffled slightly, saying “sometimes it is a little bit of luck.”
True. But having already collected more than double his World Cup points total from last year after just one race, Hanisch is well on his way to improving on that 77th place. As luck would have it.