The UCI Artistic Cycling World Cup heads into its third season and makes its first stop in Austria. Koblach, a 4,700-strong community on the border with Switzerland, is well known to artistic cycling enthusiasts. The European world leaders are regular guests there at international tournaments so the World Cup contenders from 11 nations and their many spectators can look forward to optimal conditions. The World Cup season starter includes all last year’s title winners… who all come from Germany.
In the Single Men category, the runaway favourite is the triple and reigning UCI World Champion Lukas Kohl (Kirchehrenbach). The 24-year-old will compete in his first event of the season in Koblach. After numerous PR appointments, TV interviews and show appearances, it will once again be exciting to see how well the world record holder can perform his freestyle almost three months after winning the rainbow jersey in Basel, Switzerland. In 2019, Kohl started the UCI World Cup almost flawlessly straight from the competition break, while his competitors had each completed at least one or two regional warm-up tournaments.
Kohl has had to cope with a setback in his season preparation after a joint training camp with athletes from the Chinese Special Administrative Region of Macau had to be cancelled at the beginning of February. “I was really looking forward to it. Unfortunately, the authorities in Macau prohibited national coach June Kuan and her athletes from running the training camp for security reasons,” Kohl wrote on his Facebook page. The reason: the coronavirus. “As a result, training in Macau was stopped and further measures taken to prevent the virus from spreading,” said Kohl.
Meanwhile, the second German cyclist Marcel Jüngling (Dornheim) was able to share a more positive story on social media. The World Championships silver medallist launched a challenge on Instagram in January. Under the hashtag #artisticalcyclists he called for the creation of new art bike exercises. “The idea is to show tricks that currently aren't part of the UCI artistic cycling regulations. You could think of completely new tricks or some old 'forgotten' ones that were part of older versions of the cycling regulations,” Jüngling challenged the community. Almost 40 contributions have been shared, which underlines the creativity of the young scene in artistic performance.
Jüngling himself, who finished second behind Kohl in last year’s UCI World Cup, is once again a strong competitor along with Max Maute (Tailfingen, Germany). Maute, who was runner-up in the 2019 German Championships, will start in Koblach with the same starting value as Jüngling: both athletes have increased their freestyle value to exactly 203.20 points.
Germans on pole
In almost all other categories, the Germans start in pole position, including the UCI World Cup defending champions Sophie Nattmann/Caroline Wurth (Gutach) in the Women’s Pairs, Max Hanselmann/Serafin Schefold (Öhringen) in Open Pairs and Milena Slupina (Bernlohe) in Single Women.
However, in the Team-4 Open, it is a Swiss quartet from Baar that starts with the highest difficulty. Vanessa Hotz, Stefanie Moos, Saskia Grob and Elena Fischer are the reigning UCI World Champions and want to do their rainbow jerseys justice. It will be the first time the quartet contests a UCI World Cup season.
They will be up against three other teams: Steinhöring and Worms from Germany and Rheineck/Uzwil, Switzerland. Little separated the four teams.
The hopes of the host country Austria rest on the shoulders of the women's duo Rosa Kopf/Svenja Bachmann (Sulz), who were third in the 2019 UCI World Championships, and Katharina Kühne/Marcel Schnetzer (Höchst) in the Pairs Open.
With good performances both couples have a chance of finishing on the podium.