The dream shared by David Stübner and Florian Bangel of playing against the UCI World Champions will not become reality on Saturday… but they will nevertheless still be facing their stiffest competition ever.
The RV Edelweiss Albungen cycle-ball team are invited to compete in the second round of the 2019 UCI World Cup series as representatives of the host club. Despite the absence of UCI World Champions Höchst, this duo flying the flag for the small German
village of Albungen and its 300 inhabitants, will be competing against many of the world’s top teams.
Stübner/Bangel, currently in fifth place in the Kassel district league – the sixth highest league in Germany – meet the multiple U23 European Champions Kevin Bachmann and Stefan Feurstein (SG Dornbirn/Sulz), from Austria, in the preliminary round of this weekend’s event. Also competing in Group I are last year’s German Bundesliga winners, Obernfeld (Andre Kopp/Raphael Kopp), and the Sokol Zlin-Prstne team (Ludvik Pisek/Miroslav Gottfried), the Czech runners-up. And with the Frenchman Quentin Seyfried there is even a World Championship medal winner (bronze, in 2015) in the mix: this year Quentin is joined by his brother Mathias Seyfried, playing for Dorlisheim.
Of course, the hosts Albungen realise that they have only a slim chance, but despite the class difference of five leagues, they still have the courage to take part. Stübner explains the duo’s primary objective: "Our goal is clear: score a goal."
The two also play leading roles in their association: Stübner is Chairman, Bangel the deputy. To celebrate their club’s 90th anniversary, they applied to host a UCI World Cup tournament. After hosting the German Cup in 2015, the area is "now an international venue", says Bangel. “This is instrumental in helping spread our marginal sport. It is an honour for us to have received that."
In Group II, European Championships runners-up Pfungen/Switzerland (Severin and Benjamin Weibel) are the favourites for the semi-finals along with the Germans Marcel Schüle/Björn Bootsmann (Waldrems). Fourth in the last UCI World Championships,
Brecht Damen/Niels Dirikx (HZG Beringen/Belgium) and the Czech Champions MO Svitavka (Pavel Vitula/Pavel Richter) will draw on their experience from many UCI World Cup tournaments, while the Dornbirn/Austria (Pascal Fontain/Patrick Köck) team,
along with the hosts Albungen in Group I, are making their World Cup debut.
Following the form of previous results Pfungen (3rd at the first tournament), Sulz/Dornbirn (4th), Obernfeld (5th) and Waldrems should occupy the top spots. One of the first three teams will then probably slip into the jersey of the UCI World Cup leader, as the early leaders Höchst (Austria) are not present in Albungen.
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