St. Wendel in Saarland will be from 5.-8. June will be the focus of the XC elite. This year's European Championship promises some hot fights, especially for men. While Julien Absalon snatched victory from Nino Schurter in front of his home crowd last year, Schurter will do everything in his power to recapture the title this year. But the German drivers are also hungry. With two podium places in the three World Cups that have been held so far, Moritz Milatz and Manuel Fumic have shown themselves to be absolutely competitive. Also Sabine Spitz, German perennial favorite among the women, has a good chance of a medal. You can read about the chances for the German starters in the interview with national coach Peter Schaupp.
Mr. Schaupp, at the last European Championships in St. Wendel in 2008, the BDR celebrated two titles. Sabine Spitz won the women's category, Mona Eiberweiser won the juniors' category. At the first European Championships in 2001, Spitz won silver and Lado Fumic bronze. How many medals will there be this time?
Peter Schaupp: I certainly won't give a number, but I can say that we have prepared very well for this European Championship. An EM in your own country is always something special. We'll give it our all. Looking at the results of the current World Cup season, I am confident that we will do well. We have chances in all age groups, but of course we have to have a really good day. You also need luck.
Sabine Spitz won her first international medal in St. Wendel in 2001. She is in good shape and very motivated. What do you trust her?
Schaup: Everything. Sabine is an athlete who can perfectly prepare for day X. She has proven that so many times. If everything goes well and she neither gets a defect nor falls, then she will be fighting for the title.
And what do you expect in the other racing classes?
Schaupp: In the men's category, Manuel Fumic showed that he is in good shape with his second place at the World Cup opener in South Africa. Julian Schelb was already runner-up in the U23 World Champion class, Helen Grobert has already won the World Cup race in the U23 women's class Cairns finished victorious and in the juniors Luca Schwarzbauer convinced with his victory in Graz. So we are well positioned in all racing classes.
In St. Wendel there will be an eliminator race, a sprint race, for the first time at the start of the European Championships. What prospects do German drivers have in this discipline?
Schaupp: Sabine Spitz and Simon Stiebjahn recently won the national titles in this discipline in Saalhausen. You could also be up front in St. Wendel. These fast races suit both of them, they are in top form and hopefully they will make it to the final.
St. Wendel organizes its European Championships on the traditional circuit, which has already proven itself at two European Championships and numerous World Cups. Today's routes are shorter and technically more difficult. How do you rate the EM course?
It doesn't matter what the route is, in the end it's always the same athletes who come out on top, because they are the ones who shape the race and make it difficult with their driving style. St. Wendel will require more tactical skill than, for example, the World Cup course in South Africa at the beginning of the season. That definitely makes the race a lot more exciting. I don't believe in too much technology. There are tracks that I think are too dangerous for the drivers. Bern last year was such a course. At some point you have to draw a line to protect the athlete. St. Wendel is an honest course. We will experience a great European Championship.