Austria clinch fourth successive cycle-ball world title – Youngster Kohl dethrones defending champion
What a final, what a weekend! Despite the fact that hosts Germany did not feature in cycle-ball’s UCI Indoor Cycling World Championships decider, a majority of the 6,000 fans present – most of them German – were determined not to miss out on a potentially classic tussle for the UCI rainbow jersey between Switzerland and defending champions Austria. Their commitment was rewarded with an encounter packed with excitement until the very end, as Höchst pair Marcel Schnetzer and Markus Bröll ultimately kept their noses in front to clinch their fourth successive world title.
Despite the fact that Schnetzer is now the proud owner of five UCI World Championships gold medals after winning the competition with Dietmar Schneider in 2011, Austria were made to work from start to finish in a hard-fought encounter. Swiss challengers Dominik Planzer and Roman Schneider of Altdorf held a surprise 3-2 lead at half time and, while Austria equalised twice after the break only to fall behind again immediately on both occasions, the favourites eventually held their nerve to edge the match 6-5.
Team Austria were deserving winners, having won all of their games over the three-day tournament. “It was exciting for a long time,” said goalkeeper Schnetzer. “Although we missed plenty of chances, we were able to rely on our tried and tested moves in the end,” he continued, adding enthusiastically: “The way the hall was shaking was insane.”
German pair Bernd and Gerhard Mlady ended their weekend on a high note after beating Czech Republic 6-5 in the bronze medal match. After their narrow defeat to Switzerland in the semi-final, the cousins fell behind to Czech duo Jiri Hrdlicka and Pavel Loskot early on, but turned the game around in the second half, sparking raucous celebrations from the home crowd. “While we were understandably disappointed after losing the semi-final, we were determined to take home a medal and stand on the podium in front of our own fans, so it wasn’t hard to motivate ourselves for the bronze medal match,” said Bernd Mlady.
Single Men: World Championships debutant takes gold at first attempt
20-year-old German Lukas Kohl pulled off the shock of the day in the Single Men artistic cycling event, scoring 199.43 points to dethrone defending champion, compatriot and outright favourite Michael Niedermeier (192) on his World Championships debut.
Niedermeier was able to respond to Kohl’s programme in the preliminary round but made a crucial error in the final, failing to complete his final move while on track for gold with five seconds remaining. “It wasn’t a technical error or a lack of focus, it was bad luck – my hand simply slipped off,” he later explained. Before this fateful moment, the German had demonstrated his world class with eight turns and multiple handlebar stand turns that helped him amass plenty of bonus points. “I’m extremely satisfied with my performance,” Niedermeier said. “I didn’t lose gold today; I won silver.”
Kohl, meanwhile, had little time to let his surprise victory sink in. The newly crowned champion explained that his parents brought his car to the competition venue “so I can drive myself home tomorrow”. After the medal ceremony, press conference and doping test, the 20-year-old set off to pack his wheels and bags away himself before heading off to the end-of-tournament gala dinner.
Switzerland’s Yannick Martens clinched the bronze medal with 186 points. The son of multiple World Championships medal winner Hermann Martens further reduced the deficit to his father’s record with his second third-place finish since 2012.
Pairs Women: 2015 result repeats itself
Spectators could be forgiven for experiencing déjà-vu when looking at the Pairs Women’s podium. In an exact repeat of 2015 in Malaysia, German duo Nadja and Julia Thürmer beat compatriots Lena and Lisa Bringsken to the gold as Swiss team Fabienne Gamper and Rahel Nägele once again won bronze.
After making one or two mistakes in the preliminary round, Thürmer sisters Julia, 27, and Nadja, 25, were in sparkling form when it mattered, scoring 151.51 to put them well beyond the reach of their rivals. “It was the most wonderful moment in our sporting careers,” Julia said excitedly, with sibling Nadja adding: “It was a completely different experience to last time.” Meanwhile Lena and Lisa Bringsken, aged 21 and 19 respectively, delivered a solid programme without any major errors to score 130.17 and keep their Swiss final opponents in check once more.