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It’s a time of firsts for the Multivan-Merida cross-country team. Team leader Jose Antonia Hermida is finally the reigning world XC champ and the team will be one of the first Euro squads to field 29ers, the Big.Nine Team.
“For me it’s going to be a new challenge,” Hermida said at the team’s presentation in Mallorca. “I’ve been riding hardtails for so many years probably now is the moment to update my software for a 29 bike… Maybe I will try to be the first world champion on a 29.”
And Hermida isn’t the only veteran sporting rainbow stripes on jersey collars, as Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå and 2010 European champ Ralph Naef are racing in 2011. In 2010, the Multivan-Merida cross-country team was the overall leader in the World Cup rankings and, most notably, it was the year Hermida, 32, finally won the rainbow jersey after 10 years as a pro.