It was almost another perfect freestyle performance by the triple UCI Artistic Cycling World Champion Lukas Kohl at the second UCI World Cup tournament of the season, in Merelbeke (Belgium). It would have been perfect had not been for a rebound that slowed him down during a handlebar handstand – the German had to curtail his high-class exercise to avoid falling.
"One of the small bumps brought me out," said Kohl on his Facebook page. "This cost me 15 points." Accordingly, his scoring went down from 206 to 191 points. But "the rest of my performance worked out great," confirmed Kohl, who was satisfied with his result in view of the irregular flooring: 190.29 points. It was enough to comfortably earn the second UCI World Cup victory of the year ahead of Lukas Burri (Uzwil, Switzerland - 174.80 points), Marcel Jüngling (Dornbeim, Germany - 168.99 points) and Moritz Herbst (Wendlingen, Germany) on 159.25 points.
"I enjoyed a competition that was well organised. The floor surface was very irregular, but it was the same for all the athletes," said Kohl.
In fact, there were no absolute top results in Merelbeke, but there were good performances, particularly from the leading German riders. UCI World Championships silver medallist Milena Slupina (Bernlohe, Germany) coped best in the women's competition. She won with 189.18 points clearly ahead of the reigning UCI World Cup overall winner from 2018, Maren Haase (Hoffnungsthal, Germany) with 172.39 points. Despite collecting many deductions, the top-seeded UCI World Champion Iris Schwarzhaupt (Stuttgart, Germany) rounded out the German triple triumph with 170.12 points.
The women's competition was marked by the retirement of one of the favourites just a few days before the World Cup in Merelbeke. Adriana Mathis from Meiningen, Austria, had taken third place in the first round in Prague in February, breaking through the German phalanx. But a few days ago, the 2015 UCI World Champion announced the end of her career on her Facebook account: "After a wonderful 18 years in the sport of artistic cycling, I will end my active career and face new personal and professional challenges," said Mathis.
The surprise success of the day in Belgium came from the German pair of Selina Marquardt and Helen Vordermeier (Oberjesingen). With 130.87 points they beat the reigning UCI World Champions Lena and Lisa Bringsken (Böhl-Iggelheim), who scored 127.17 points. The UCI World Championships silver medallists Sophie Nattmann and Caroline Wurth (Gutach) also had to line up behind Marquardt/Vordermeier. Their 113.06 points were enough to take the final podium position. The Swiss pair of Nathalie Steinemann and Irina Christinger (Schaffhausen) came close with 111.61 points.
The enthralling duel in the Mixed Pairs also saw a decisive German couple. The European Champions Patrick Tisch and Nina Stapf (Magstadt) had started with exactly the same value as the Swiss mixed duo Lukas Burri and Fabienne Hammerschmidt (Uzwil): 163.90 points. But it was Tisch/Stapf who eventually prevailed with 157.94 points, almost 11 points more than the World Championships runners-up Burri/Hammerschidt. Third place went to Austria for the first time: with 141.43 points Marcel Schnetzer and Katharina Kühne (Höchst) showed that they still belong to the world's top tier after a one-year injury break.
In the ACT4 competition, only two teams, both from Germany, competed this time. The slightly favored women's quartet of Julia Dörner, Annalena Vollbrecht, Annamaria Milo and Ramona Ressel (Steinhöring/183.85 points) were defeated by the mixed team of Lukas Kayko, Roxanne Ludwig, Vanessa Wörner and Eva Zimmermann (Denkendorf/187.47 points).
The 2019 UCI Artistic Cycling World Cup moves to Bokod, Hungary, with the third round in August.