Germany dominates the last day of competition in Dornbirn
Pairs Women – Thürmer sisters in a league of their own
With three titles from four UCI Indoor Cycling World Championships, Nadja and Julia Thürmer (RV Mainz-Finthen/GER) completed their hat-trick in Dornbirn on Sunday.
The sisters left nothing to chance in the Pairs Women event and made their huge head start count. With scores in excess of 160 points comparable with those of the men in the Pairs Open category, the Thürmers’ female rivals were left trailing in their wake.
“We don’t have any problems with motivation,” the pair said after the competition. They have demonstrated this by remaining at the pinnacle of the sport since 2009, when they won their first UCI World Championships silver medal. They then had to wait until 2015 for another shot at the podium, as they were consistently ranked third in Germany. They eventually won the national title and have been unbeatable ever since.
Silver medallists Lena and Lisa Bringsken (Böhl-Iggelheim/GER) did everything in their power to shake things up, finishing runners-up for the third successive year: “We still have the potential to improve.” It remains to be seen whether they will contest another duel with the Thürmer sisters in 2018. “We’ll take our time and decide after the World Championships whether we’ll compete again next year,” they said. They also have opportunities to reach new heights with the introduction of the UCI World Cup series and the European Championships, which will take place practically on their doorstep in Wiesbaden in 2018. This could provide ample incentive to keep riding together.
Switzerland’s Fabienne Gamper and Rahel Nägele rode out onto the competition floor already knowing that this was their final appearance together. They signed off from the Final 4 with their fourth bronze medal in a row and a new Swiss national record. “For us, the bronze medal feels like a gold – and they’re not that different in colour,” said Rahel Nägele. “It’s definitely the right time to call it a day, not least because we’re now under real pressure from our compatriots Laura Bruder and Julia Hämmerli.”
The aforementioned pair, who still ride at U-19 level, broke the junior record twice in Dornbirn before being rewarded with a fourth-place finish for their UCI World Championships debut. “We’re making room for youth and will now focus on our private lives and careers,” said Gamper and Nägele.
All the UCI World Champions in Dornbirn receive a 6.8-kilogram block of alpine cheese as part of their prize. When asked what two such petite women would do with this hefty gift, Nadja Thürmer was quick to answer. “We don’t eat cheese, so we’ll give half of it to Dad and the other half to our physio, former World Champion Katrin Schultheis.”
Single Men – World Champion Lukas Kohl soaks up the atmosphere
Germany’s Lukas Kohl (Kirchehrenbach) successfully defended his world title in the Single Men event after being the only rider to pass the 200-point mark with his programme.
Twice he took to the competition floor with a smile on his face, and twice he left it again with a broad grin from enjoying the UCI Indoor Cycling World Championships so much. “I looked up at the stands packed with spectators and soaked up the atmosphere, then focused on my routine when I was actually riding,” he explained. “I’m glad everything went well, and I became World Champion again.”
Compatriot Moritz Herbst (Wendlingen/GER) was equally satisfied with his silver medal, even though he was so excited about making his World Championships debut that he made a less-than-perfect start. “When I rode out into the arena in the preliminary round, I was so nervous that I was even shaking a little, which I’ve never done before,” he said. Although this caused a few errors to slip into his first routine, Herbst gave a much better account of himself in the final to finish with a strong total of 194 points. “I’ve suffered several injuries since moving into the Single Men class in 2013,” he later recalled. “2017 was the first season I completed in full – and this silver medal is the icing on the cake.”
Hong Kong’s Chin To Wong collected bronze to complete the podium line-up. The 24-year-old set a new Asian record in the preliminary round and improved on this in the final despite making a few mistakes. “There’s still plenty of room for improvement,” said Wong, who would like to get even closer to the German athletes’ scores in 2018.
Swiss rider Lukas Burri, who celebrated both his birthday and a bronze medal with Fabienne Hammerschmied in the Pairs Open event on Saturday, was also pleased with his performance and fourth-place finish.
Cycle-ball – Germany snatch title from Austria
As the cycle-ball final drew to a close at the UCI Indoor Cycling World Championships in Dornbirn, Austria, the emotion of the moment seemed almost overwhelming for some of those on the competition floor. Germany’s Bernd Mlady raised his hands to his head in incredulity several times, celebrated and accepted congratulations, while his rival, Team Austria’s Patrick Schnetzer, could not hide his disappointment.
After the final whistle sounded to confirm Germany’s victory, the dethroned champion threw his bike away, fell to his knees and let the tears flow. UCI World Championships chief organiser Andreas Schnetzer consoled his son, who was forced to settle for silver in 2017 after winning four successive world titles. Carrying his child in his arms, team-mate Markus Bröll appeared more sanguine as he reflected on the result with wife Jasmin, herself a former two-time UCI World Champion for Germany.
Cousins Gerhard and Bernd Mlady from RMC Stein secured the UCI rainbow jersey by defeating holders Austria 4-3 in the decider. After a season of intense preparation, the 2016 bronze medallists snatched the world title from the hosts in front of a raucous crowd of 3,500 spectators to secure Germany’s first World Championships cycle-ball gold in seven years.
The match was the highlight of a strong tournament where Germany steadily improved from start to finish. “Our preliminary matches weren’t great until the 3-3 draw with Austria,” explained goalkeeper Gerhard Mlady. “Despite that, we talked to each other a lot and worked together to improve. Becoming World Champions only really sunk in at the medal ceremony.”
By contrast, Swiss team Altdorf bid the UCI World Championships an emotional farewell following Dominik Planzer’s retirement announcement – and the pair were bitterly disappointed to be leaving Dornbirn with a third-place finish. “We didn’t come here to win bronze,” said goalkeeper Roman Schneider. “We wanted to finish two places higher, so that meant our celebrations were a little subdued.”
Relegation: France maintain top-flight status
France breathed a sigh of relief on Sunday after the 2015 UCI World Championships bronze medallists Benjamin Meyer and Quentin Seyfried won their relegation play-off against Group B winners Liechtenstein 6-5 on penalties to retain their place in Group A.