2016 UCI Indoor Cycling World Championships: Switzerland takes the first title in Stuttgart
Swiss fans struck lucky with their seating choice at the UCI Indoor Cycling World Championships in Stuttgart. Following the action from directly behind the winners’ podium, these spectators were rewarded with the sight of a quartet from the Alps climbing to the top step on Friday evening.
The team from Sirnach rode into the lion’s den and pulled off a major coup as Celine Burlet, Jenifer Schmid, Melanie Schmid and Flavia Zuber won the UCI rainbow jersey for the second time since 2014.
"It was simply unbelievable and hasn’t yet sunk in,” said Melanie Schmid, fighting back tears of joy. “To win the title in this arena is fantastic. We knew it would be close, but we also knew what we could were capable of," she added proudly.
Meanwhile the defending champions from Germany, RSV Steinhöring, had to settle for silver. After laying down an impressive score of 216.35, they could only watch as preliminary round winners from Switzerland responded with 222.24 points.
The German team of Katharina Güllich, Ramona Strassner, Christine Posch and Ramona Ressel were battling with mixed feelings after the competition. "We’re very happy with our performance," said Güllich of a quartet that have only been riding together since April. “We’ve had great competitions all year, but today it just wasn’t to be. Naturally we’re also a little disappointed as we were hoping for more."
The bronze medal went to Slovakia for the third time as Alica Vinczeova, Dora Szabo, Viktoria Glofakova and Henrietta Domin rounded off a perfect week just days after their surprise victory in a television talent show in their homeland.
In cycle-ball, the 4,500 or so spectators gathered in the arena witnessed some high-scoring wins for the main medal contenders. Champions Austria dispatched Czech Republic 8-1, while Switzerland beat Belgium 5-0. As for hosts Germany, they too began their campaign with a vital and dominant victory over last year’s bronze medallists France. Cousins Gerhard and Bernd Mlady delivered an impressive performance to ensure their French opponents would not trip them up, but while their 7-1 win sent a clear signal of intent to fans and rivals alike, the leading challengers for gold will only become clear on Saturday.
The finalists of the Single Women category were also confirmed on Friday evening, with two German contenders and a rider from each of Slovakia and Austria progressing to Saturday’s last four. Both Lisa Hatterner (GER/182.29) and Viola Brand (GER/178.42) delivered a clean program, while Nicole Frybortova (SVK/168.13) and 15-year-old Julia Walser (AUT/167.64) still have plenty of energy in reserve for the final.
“I declare the World Championships open!” In one of the highlights of the opening ceremony, UCI Indoor Cycling Commission President Marian Stetina uttered these magic words to officially launch the 80th UCI Indoor Cycling World Championships, and the 61st to include both cycle-ball and artistic cycling. Stetina thanked the city of Stuttgart and the event organisers on behalf of UCI President Brian Cookson, who will be on hand to follow proceedings in person over the weekend.