Sabine Spitz and Simon Stiebjahn were crowned champions in the Eliminator Sprint at the German Championships in Lennestadt-Saalhausen on Saturday. Spitz won her 16th German title ahead of Lena Putz and Nadine Rieder, while Stiebjahn won a championship title for the first time in his career ahead of Markus Bauer and Heiko Gutmann.
The German XCE Championship was characterized by heavy rain. Rain soaked the 800 meter long course, which had to be driven twice. With just under four minutes for the women, the Eliminator Sprint was longer than the sprinters are used to and this distance also had an impact on the result. “I have to say the conditions suited me. I knew I had a better chance over the distance.", known Sabine Spitz. "I didn't come here expecting to win the title at all."
In the semifinals it was against Elisabeth Brandau "a bit tricky" been. "I didn't want to risk anything in a duel", said the Haibike rider, but she knew that she would still have chances in the end. So she passed the Schönaicherin about 300 meters before the finish and the 2012 champion was even thrown out of the race by junior Kim Riesterer.
In the final, Sabine Spitz took the lead after a few hundred meters and with all her routine she never gave it up. “I wanted to dictate the pace and that worked well”, Spitz explained. U23 driver Lena Putz stayed on the heels of the 42-year-old Sprint DM debutant until the end, but was no longer able to prevent the South Baden native from winning the 16th German championship title. Even if she almost had a mishap while cheering on the muddy ground, she had already crossed the finish line when she had to get off her bike. "It's great that the sprint grandma was able to beat the boys"she said with a smile on her face.
Lena Putz celebrated her silver medal. The 2011 Junior Vice World Champion (XC) from Bavaria had shown strong performances in the finals. “My goal was the final. I'm happy that it was enough for the silver medal."said Putz.
Nadine Rieder, who actually aimed for the title, was not disappointed at all. “The course required a lot of strength and I noticed right away in qualifying that my legs were very heavy. Under these circumstances, I'm glad I got a medal here.", Rieder explained.
The four men in the final fought a gripping battle for the title. Münstertäler Heiko Gutmann got off to the best start and after Simon Stiebjahn and defending champion Simon Gegenheimer briefly clashed, Gutmann's Lexware teammate Markus Bauer took over second position.
That put Gutmann maybe 20 meters ahead, but in the second lap it started to melt. Simon Stiebjahn surprised with his advance from fourth to second place and chased after Gutmann. The 27-year-old was losing more and more strength. "I knew if I was ahead to the last corner, I could do it", said Gutman. But the strength was not enough on the heavy ground. Stiebjahn and Bauer passed before this last corner, almost 200 meters from the finish.
Stiebjahn didn't let himself be snatched away from the lead and thus the championship jersey in the final meters, Gutmann saved the bronze medal by a hair's breadth from the defeated defending champion. Simon Stiebjahn won a German title for the first time in his career. "I'm super happy with the title. The conditions and the length of the sprint definitely suited me. I was in last position on the first lap, but I knew I had to stay calm. I've always believed in myself", commented the 24-year-old from Titisee-Neustadt on his victory, which he achieved after a stay at the altitude training camp.
Markus Bauer missed the big triumph. Having only traveled to Saalhausen an hour before the start of the high-altitude training camp in Colorado, he had to be content with the silver medal, as he did in the marathon championships last October and also in the U23s. “Of course we acted tactically as a team, but I made a mistake when crossing the finish line on the second lap. I'm a bit disappointed because it's only silver again."said Bauer.
Teammate Heiko Gutmann was also disappointed at first. The bronze medal might have been more than he had first thought, but so close to triumph it felt more like a defeat. "I'm already disappointed. The course was so exhausting that at the end I just couldn't hold it anymore", known of the Munster valleys. The disappointment was even greater for Simon Gegenheimer, who missed out on bronze by half a wheel length. Last year's runner-up in the overall sprint World Cup was probably doomed by the conditions that favored endurance specialists more than pure sprinters.
Photos: EGO Promotion / Andre Steinberg
1. Simon Stiebjahn Team Bulls
2. Markus Bauer Lexware MTB Team
3. Heiko Gutmann Lexware MTB Team
4. Simon Gegenheimer Rose Vaujany
5. Andy Eyring Bergamot Hayes Factory Team
1. Sabine Spitz Haibike Pro Team
2. Lena Putz
3. Nadine Rieder AMG Rotwild MTB Racing Team
4. Kim Riesterer Lexware MTB Team
5. Lena Wehrle Lexware MTB Team