For 2017 season the Möbel Märki MTB Pro Team has expanded notably. And they employed Slovenian staff on some key positions. Roger Märki, team's director and main sponsor, is especially happy to have a skilled and experienced trio running the team. They are Jernej Sobočan as sport director, Ajda Hrastnik as soigneur and Valter Bonča as mechanic.

Jernej Sobočan:

"By the end June I received information that Haibike-Ötztal will be folding after the season. I looked around and found some opportunities in Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands. In October I got in touch with Möbel Märki team. I was on top of their list so I visited them on October 19th with physiotherapist Ajda Hrastnik. The negotiations were quick and I returned home the same day with a contract. Organization of technical part is also my job so after lots of thinking I ended up with Valter Bonča."

Slovenian trio

Jernej is an experienced team manager who first managed the Colnago team after working for some teams as mechanic. So he put together a crew he can rely on.

Valter Bonča is a former professional road cyclist with lots of experience in various fields of cycling and can help Jernej with work beyond bike preparation. Ajda Hrastnik is a respected physiotherapist, experienced in working with mountain bikers. She worked with Haibike-Ötztal athletes as well as with Swiss national road cycling team.

Ajda (left in pink) and sport director Jernej Sobočan

The team

Matthias Stirnemann's achievements from past two seasons and his jump from 75th to 5th in the UCI ranking motivated many to submit their resumes to Roger Märki this year.

For Irina Kalentieva, the 2007 and 2009 World Champion, 2017 will be her third year on the team. She wishes to put all the 2016 mishaps behind her.

Corina Gantenbein is a very resourceful Swiss rider who made it all the way to UCI number 25 with not much racing and she is eager to do her best in 2017.

19 year old Nicole Koller, the 2014 Junior World Champion, will be aiming for U23 World Cup podiums.

Austrian Champion Karl Markt is 36 and wants to get back to the top in World Cup. He is currently UCI's number 21 and his goal is at least to make it into the second row.

Then there's Charly's training partner Gregor Raggl. Together with 23 year old German Christian Pfäffle they make "young and wild" tag team. Christian finished 15th at last year's World Championships in Nove Mesto. He started with number plate 100 and ended up as best German.

The season

Six World Cup races are the base of team's schedule. They will also be attending the Swiss, Austrian and German national series races.

Photos by Möbel Märki