Today's XCE World Cup in Albstadt should be the big revenge for Fabrice Mels and Kathrin Stirnemann. After both had already been in the grand final in Nove Mesto, they were able to drive into their respective finals again. In the women's category, the four fastest in qualifying were able to fight their way through to the final, creating a lot of excitement. Alexandra Engen seemed unbeatable once again, but let Stirnemann go ahead on the starting straight. A tactical move? It didn't seem so, as Engen was never able to gain ground during the final run.
When Stirnemann then started her final sprint, none of her pursuers could keep up. Kathrin Stirnemann drove towards her second World Cup victory with a start-finish victory and was happy to have finally beaten Alexandra Engen after a short week. "I thought it can't be that Alexandra is unbeatable. I knew I had to be up front today to still have a chance in the overall World Cup. My idea was to be in front on this climb and then slow down a bit at the top and start again. It worked, but I didn't think it would give me such a big lead." – Kathrin Stirnemann.
Linda Indergrand and Anne Tersptra complete the podium. The German Lena Putz was able to fight her way to the semi-finals, but had to make do with entering the small final. Here she missed the decisive meters and finished eighth.
The reigning German champion Simon Stiebjahn qualified as the best German in fifth place. With a strong performance he managed to confirm his place in the qualification and celebrated victory in the small final, his best World Cup result to date. The grand finale was undoubtedly one of the most exciting in XCE history. Fabrice Mels and Paul van der Ploeg were already in the final together in Nove Mesto and the Belgian champion was also in Albstadt next to the reigning world champion in XCE. Van der Ploeg started the finale with vigorous kicks and took the lead in the field, but he couldn't shake off his opponents. With two corners to go, he surprisingly slowed down and dropped back. Pure tactics, as it turned out.
Patrik Lüthi, the Swiss, briefly took the lead, followed by Mels. After the last corner, he started the seemingly never-ending sprint for victory. Van der Ploeg was able to fight back to the top, but lost in the photo finish to Mels, who, like Stirnemann, celebrated his second World Cup victory. “I had to contest every run with Paul. My tactic was always to wait for the home straight and that worked because I felt good over the entire distance. It was a close fight with Paul in the final and it's great to win so close because the crowd goes along with it. I'm happy with my second World Cup win", said Mels after his victory.
Van der Ploeg seemed only slightly disappointed. He knew he had gambled too high: “Today's eliminator was great. The most important thing in an Eliminator is a good sprint, otherwise it doesn't make sense. I was very tactical. I always try to start the race very quickly, right from the start. In the middle of the race I tried to conserve energy and drove my line. Fabrice was in my slipstream and was just stronger from there.”
The replay of today's Eliminator can be found below www.redbull.tv