The first race of the second World Cup took place this Friday with the finals of the XC sprinters. As the weather forecast predicted, it was raining cats and dogs today. but no reason not to start. From a German point of view, six drivers were at the start. With Simon Gegenheimer, the German champion was at the gate and fought for positions with strong will. With him are: Steffen Thum, Julian Schelb and Markus Schulte-Lünzum.
But it was the women who made the start. Sabine Spitz rode a strong quarterfinal and fought her way into the semifinals. However, she was eliminated here and had to make do with the small final. Unfortunately, Helen Grobert, who started as the second German alongside Spitz, did not make it past the quarter-finals hiansu and ended up ninth. Spitz couldn't quite keep up with the high pace in the small final. She was unable to defend her sixth qualifying place and finished seventh overall. The two Swedes Alexandra Engen and Jenny Rissveds made up the big final among themselves. Engen led from the start and even though Rissveds was close to the rear wheel, he didn't give the slightest chance to overtake him. Jolanda Neff finished with a very good third place and thus completes the women's podium.
The men already saw an exciting German/German duel in the quarter-finals. Simon Gegenheimer and Markus Schulte-Lünzum faced each other in the first run. Gegenheimer took the lead, as you are used to from him, with powerful kicks right on the main straight. Schulte-Lünzum, however, was not to be shaken off and although the two Germans had a small lead, Schulte-Lünzum elbowed out and pushed past Gegenheimer at the end of the slippery climb. Both made it into the semi-finals, just like their German competitor Julian Schelb and the top favorites around Daniel Federspiel and world champion Paul van der Ploeg. For the German starters, however, it was over in the semifinals. Gegenheimer fell while in the lead in the downhill and steered the world champion van der Ploeg and the young New Zealander Samuel Gaze into the final. Thus, three German drivers faced each other in the small final. Gegenheimer took the lead followed by Schelb and went into first position on the home straight. With few reserves, however, he had to hand over his lead to Schelb, who secured victory in the small final and thus fifth place overall.
The grand finale resembled a one-man show. Samuel Gaze was in a World Cup final for the first time and gave everything he had from the start. He put himself at the head of the field with vigorous kicks and never gave them up during the race. Completely out of breath, he couldn't believe that he had just won his first World Cup. Second was Daniel Federspiel, who relegated world champion van der Ploeg to third place in an exciting sprint. The replay of the race can be found here.
1. Samuel Gaze 2. Daniel Federspiel (Ötztal Scott MTB Team) 3. Paul van der Ploeg 4. Emil Lindgren (Giant Pro XC Team) 5. Julian Schelb (Multivan-Merida)
1. Alexandra Engen (Ghost Factory Racing) 2. Jenny Rissveds (Scott Odlo) 3. Jolanda Neff (Lic Pro XC team) 4. Katrin Stirnemann (Sabine Spitz Haibike Pro Team) 5. Eva Lechner (Team Colnago Südtirol)