August 16, 2011 (Magstadt, Germany) – Due to health concerns, Multivan-Merida mountain biker Ralph Näf decided to end his racing season early. As the persistent pain in his back only has gotten worse in recent weeks, the Swiss rider saw no chance to compete with the world’s elite. Now Näf plans to undergo more detailed medical screening in order to return to his old strength for the 2012 Olympic season.
“That really was a difficult decision for me to take. Actually I am in a very good shape, but due to my back pain I cannot transform that shape into good results over the full distance of a race,” Näf commented on his decision to end his season. During recent races, the pain in his back has been getting so strong that he even faced paralytic symptoms in his left leg at times. “I want to compete with the world’s elite, and at the moment I can only do that during the first half of a race. So I have to overcome these health issues in order to become a contender for wins in international races again next season,” he explained. This means that he is not going to compete at either the Val di Sole, Italy World Cup finals to be held next weekend, or at the World Championships in Champéry, Switzerland.
Näf is still one of the best mountain bike racers in the world. He has won the European Championships three times and won a World Championship in 2006. For London’s 2012 Olympic Games, he is considered to be one of the contenders for a medal.