Twenty cycle-ball players, ten teams, five nations… the third tournament of the UCI World Cup series, on Saturday May 18th, is the next highlight of the 2019 international cycleball season.
Mücheln is the venue: the community on the largest man-made lake in Germany, the "Geiseltalsee" near Leipzig, will welcome riders from Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Czech Republic.
Host club VfH Mücheln has already organised UCI World Cup tournaments six times, including the finals in 2011. An impressive field including several former UCI World Champions will line up tomorrow alongside young, emerging teams: it will be a meeting of the generations.
A very interesting battle between generations could come between Jiri Hrdlicka senior and Jiri Hrdlicka junior, – father and son – who compete in different teams in this tournament. Hrdlicka senior, UCI World Champion in 2003 and 2008, joins with Pavel Loskot in preliminary group 2, while Hrdlicka junior partners with Roman Stanek in group 1. That means there could well be a father-son duel in the semi-final or placement game...
However, the favorites come from other teams. For example, the German runners-up Björn Bootsmann and Marcel Schüle from RSV Waldrems and multiple U23 European Champions Kevin Bachmann and Stefan Feuerstein (Sulz/Dornbirn). Currently placed third overall in the World Cup rankings, this duo from Austria is likely to take over the leading jersey in Mücheln at the weekend.
Other contenders for one of the top places are the two former UCI World Champions Paul Looser (2002) and Roman Schneider (2012). The Swiss only formed their team last year and were immediately third in the 2018 World Cup.
The performance of German Cup finalists RSV Sangerhausen is highly anticipated. The U23 team of Eric Haedicke and Max Rückschloß are in line for promotion to the First League after a series of good results at U23 and Elite level. The UCI World Cup in Mücheln is a perfect stopover for this pair, who could almost be described as “locals”: it’s only a journey of 50km from Sangerhausen to Mücheln.
Ironically the host duo Marc Wöllner and Dominic Espen have to travel further as neither live in Mücheln: Espen comes 60km from Leipzig while Wöllner’s journey is 120km from Saalefeld. Until 2012, they played together for Saalefeld in the Thuringia league then parted ways, before reuniting in Mücheln in 2018.
If Wöllner/Espen catch a perfect day at their ‘home’ game, the second division team is quietly confident about reaching the semi-finals. But could they repeat the best performance of a wildcard team, the second place of their club predecessors Mike Rödger/Herbert Pischl in 2008?
Aside from the cycle-ball action, there will be a guest appearance from artistic cycling European Champion Viola Brand to mark the evening finalé.