Day two at the UCI Indoor Cycling World Championships (ICWC) in Basel (SUI) saw repeat rainbow jerseys for Germany in Women’s Singles and Pairs Open Artistic Cycling.
Artistic Women’s Singles: double for Slupina
Milena Slupina’s relief was clear to see after the final whistle at the UCI ICWC. Almost incredulously, the 2017 UCI World Champion looked at the scoreboard: lit up, it read 189.73 points and 1st place – and then the German Slupina realised, she had won the UCI Women Singles World Championship title for – for the second time.
The fans rubbed their eyes in wonder in the preliminary round. Slupina showed unfamiliar weaknesses, broke off exercises, crashed and took a deduction of more than 40 points. But even with that, her points were enough for third place and the entry into Final 4. Then we saw a completely different Slupina, delivering an almost perfect performance. “I had physical weaknesses this late season,” said Slupina – something that became noticeable in her preparation.
“I simply did not have the strength during training. That's why I took a break on Friday.” Where the weakness came from, the now two-time UCI World Champion could not make out,but she suspected: “It certainly has something to do with the long season.” Yet for her final she picked everything up again.
Slupina’s adversary, Viola Brand, also from Germany, won the silver medal for the third time. The disappointment was clearat the press conference. “Of course I would like to win gold. I did my best, but Milena is just as strong, even the strongest rider out there.”
Even Brand had trouble in the preliminary round, breaking off the handlebar stand and missing the handlebar. “The jump from the saddle to the handlebar worked well in the final, which makes me especially proud,” said Brand. But her 185 points was enough to take her back to silver medal position.
In the preliminary round there were two surprises. First, a newcomer was at the top after completing the qualification: Lorena Schneider from Austria was one of the few women to show a perfect performance and win with 176.25 points. In the final, the 18-year-old delivered her 171.72-point routine at her ICWC debut to secure bronze. “Being allowed to stand next to two such successful riders today is a dream,” rejoiced the reigning U19 European Champion.
The second surprise was from Isabella Zübner (Italy). The Berlin-based young lady with Italian roots led the field in the preliminary round of eight. With 135.08 points, she showed a respectable performance and was happy to finish in fourth place.
Artistic Pairs Open: hat trick for Schefold & Hanselmann
There could not have been a better finish to the Pairs Open competition. André and Benedikt Bugner (Klein-Winternheim, Germany), who had the handbrake on in the preliminary round, scored their season best of 164.05 points in the final-4 of the Pairs Open.
In 2013, the brothers won their first ICWC title in Basel, followed by three further successes from 2014 to 2016, before they had to settle for silver for the first time in 2017.
And this year, the comeback - and the end of the career after a long and hard time with injury. At the end, although there was only silver, the two were very content. “We did not even know at the beginning of the season whether we would qualify for the ICWC,” says Benedikt Bugner. “The vice-title in Basel with this perfect freestyle is the perfect farewell.”
The reigning double UCI World Champions Serafin Schefold and Max Hanselmann (Öhringen, Germany) were simply unbeatable. “These two are mental machines,” remarkedAndré Bugner about the performance of his competitors. As the last starters of the finals, they almost broke the world record.
With the world’s best performance of 166.25 points, Hanselmann and Schefold proved their nerves and completed their hat-trick of titles. “In the preliminary round we were still unfocused and nervous,” said Schefold, “but in the final we became fully motivated and focused.” They had also facedinjuries in the season, but were on the mark again when it mattered.
Bronze went to the Swiss mixed duo of Lukas Buri and Fabienne Hammerschmidt (148.20 points), who, in front of the home crowd, finished ahead of the Austrians Marcel Schnetzer and Katharina Kühn (136,14 points).
Cycle-ball shaping up
The German cycling team Bernd and Gerhard Mlady won the preliminary round of the ICWC Group A, putting the pair straight into the semi-finals. In the final qualifier against defending UCI World Champions Austria (Patrick Schnetzer and Markus Bröll), the Mladys were surprisingly clear with the score at 6:3 (4:1 at the break). Both teams had previously won all their matches against competitors from Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Belgium and France.
Third place was secured by the Swiss duo of Severin and Benjamin Waibel with seven points, ahead of the Czech Republic and Belgium on four points each. With that, Austria have to play against Belgium (Brecht Damen / Niels Dirikx) on Sunday in the second round and Switzerland get to deal with the Czech Republic (Jiri Hrdlicka / Pavel Loskot).
The winners of these two games earn places in the semi-finals, while the losers contest the Lucky-Loser match for the last semi-final place. Meanwhile, France (Quentin Seyfried / Mathias Seyfried) have to fight – for the umpteenth time – in the relegation match against the winner of the B-Group,Liechtenstein. This duel is now being played out for the third successive time – and clearly the now three-time B-Group winners Markus and Lukas Schönenberger (Liechtenstein) want to make their progression perfect on Sunday.
Sunday, the third and final day of the UCI Indoor Cycling World Championships in Basel, will see more UCI World Champions crowned, including the finals of the Cycle-ball.