The world’s best cycle-ball teams return to international competition this Saturday (24 April) with the opening round of the 2021 UCI Cycle-ball World Cup in Dornbirn (Austria).
It has been more than a year since the Elite of international cycle-ball met for a UCI tournament, when the final of the 2019 UCI Cycle-ball World Cup was held in Möhlin, Switzerland, on 18 January 2020. It was a successful farewell for multiple UCI World Champions and UCI World Cup winners, Patrick Schnetzer and Markus Bröll from RC Höchst (AUT); Bröll ended his sporting career, while Schnetzer moved to Dornbirn to continue his sporting career in the Austrian town, partnering with Stefan Feuerstein.
The new team started promisingly by winning the Austrian Cup in February 2020. But then came the COVID-19 pandemic, and indoor cycling reached a competitive halt. One by one, all the UCI Cycle-ball World Cup tournaments were cancelled and, ultimately, the highlight, the UCI Indoor Cycling World Championships, planned for November in Stuttgart (Germany), was also lost.
It will be interesting to see how the Schnetzer / Feuerstein (who has three U23 European titles to his name) pairing will fare after a year’s intensive preparation.
Michael Eiler, Head of Department for cycle-ball at RV Dornbirn. says it is not possible to identify a favourite given it is the first international competition for all teams in more than a year: “So it will be exciting to see how the teams will present themselves,” he said, adding that the event would be streamed live to compensate the ban on spectators in the hall.
The local heroes will encounter strong opposition. In the preliminary round, they will face the 2018 European silver medallists, Severin and Benjamin Waibel (Pfungen/SUI), the German first division team Robert Mlady/Michael Birkner (Stein II), Ludvik Pisek/Miroslav Gottfried (Zlin/CZE) and their Dornbirn club colleagues Maximilian Schwendinger/Bastian Arnoldi.
In Group II, the 2017 UCI World Champions, Gerhard Mlady/Bernd Mlady (Stein/GER), are favourites to win the preliminary round. They will meet the 2015 UCI World Championships bronze medalist Quentin Seyfried with Mathias Seyfried (VC Dorlisheim/FRA), Lukas Schönenberger/Andreas Zaugg (Mosnang/SUI), Pascal Fontain/Patrick Köck (Dornbirn II) and Roman Stanek/Jiri Hrdlicka junior (Svitavka/CZE).
After the season-opening in Dornbirn, the 2021 UCI Cycle-ball World Cup will continue in a reduced format: due to the coronavirus, four of the eight rounds have been cancelled at the request of the organisers, along with one of four planned UCI World Cup rounds for artistic cycling. The cancelled events of the UCI Cycle-ball World Cup are rounds two, three and five, which were due to have taken place in Germany – Langenschiltach (12 June), Ginsheim (4 September) and Hardt (18 September) – as well as the fourth round, which was to be organised in Asia.
After the UCI Cycle-ball World Cup season starter in Dornbirn this weekend, the remaining rounds are scheduled for 16 October in St. Gallen (Switzerland) and 13 November in Altdorf (Switzerland). The final is set to take place on 27 November in Großkoschen (Germany).
The originally planned opening event of the UCI Artistic Cycling World Cup, in Komarno, Slovakia, has been postponed to 26 June, meaning that the Uzwil round in Switzerland will now open the season on 23 May. The round scheduled for 14 August in Hong Kong has been cancelled.
The live stream of competition at Dornbirn will be available on the host club’s homepage: www.rv-dornbirn.at. The group matches start at 10.45am CET, and the final round at 6.00pm CET.