The cycle-ball season is entering its final phase. Over the next two weekends, the national championship finals will be competed in the top European countries: Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Czech Republic and France. And besides the important fights for the tiles and for the gold, silver and bronze medals, it's also about earning the starting places for the UCI Indoor Cycling World Championships (ICWC) – which are to be held from 6 to 8 December in Basel, Switzerland.
The reigning UCI World Champions from Austria, Markus Bröll and Patrick Schnetzer (RC Höchst), already have their ticket to the ICWC safe. The five-time UCI Champions are the undisputed number one in their home country. Anything but another victory for the pair in the national championship on 26 October in St Pölten would be a sensation.
Outside player Bröll (32) and goalkeeper Schnetzer (25), wearing the rainbow jersey and with three wins in the current UCI World Cup series, are clear favourites for all upcoming competitions – especially since it is the last season together of the two Austrians. Bröll announced that he would retire after the World Cup final on 18 January 2020.
We had the first taste of the expected IWCC action, however, at the most recent UCI World Cup round just a few days ago in St Gallen, Switzerland. The designated ICWC teams from Germany, the cousins Bernd and Gerhard Mlady (RMC Stein), and Switzerland, the brothers Severin and Benjamin Waibel (RMV Pfungen), first met in the preliminary round with 2: 2 (1: 2) and again in the final match. There we saw Stein, UCI World Champion of 2017, against the European Champions Pfungen in an open exchange with 11: 6 (7: 5).
But neither teams have their World Championship starting place confirmed yet. Mlady/Mlady have to stay ahead of rivals RV Obernfeld in the German championship (26 October in Moers) – or at least finish third, while Obernfeld must win the title.
The Waibel brothers also lead their ICWC qualifiers, but could still be intercepted in the national championship finale (26 October in Oberbüren) by the reigning WCC third-placed Altdorf (Roman Schneider/Paul Looser).
The Czech Republic are again set to send two veterans into the World Championship race. Jiri Hrdlicka (2008 World Champion) and Pavel Loskot are clearly ahead of pursuers Sokol Zlin-Prstne II with former artistic cyclists Ludvik Pisek and Miroslav Gottfried, who have only a theoretical chance to claim entry to the ICWC.
It’s a similarly distinct picture for the two A-group nations, Belgium and France. In Belgium, fourth place in last year’s IWCC, Brecht Damen and Niels Dirikx (Beringen), are the clear number ones, as are the brothers Mathias and Quentin Seyfried (Dorlisheim) in France.
If all the teams that are currently ranked first qualify for the UCI Indoor Cycling World Championship, then the last two remaining UCI World Cup tournaments on 2 November in Höchst, Austria, will be a real rehearsal for the ICWC with the hosts and UCI World Champions Schnetzer/Bröll.