Julian Schelb first pointed to his right knee, then to the gear box on his mountain bike. He sustained the bleeding wound in a fall halfway through the race, which also bent the rear derailleur: “I couldn’t shift gears properly and had to get off the bike a few times. Maybe I could have stayed with him a little longer otherwise. ” Him, that was Tom Pidcock, the Olympic gold medalist and favorite. At least that was the original plan that national coach Peter Schaupp had given his drivers in view of the technically not particularly demanding route: hang onto the rear wheel of a strong competitor and try to stay on as long as possible.
“I had good legs,” Schelb said afterwards, frustrated, “but just as it started to rain a bit, I slipped my front wheel in a tight bend on a piece of asphalt.” The mishap happened to the 29-year-old in the phase when Pidcock worked his way forward after a cautious initial phase. Schelb was still 21st at the European Cross-Country Championships, the best German was Luca Schwarzbauer in tenth place, although he got through the race without any problems, he couldn’t keep up with the best either. Surprisingly, 22-year-old David List came thirteenth, achieving his best career result and receiving special praise from the national coach.
Multi-talent: Tom Pidcock is also world champion in cross-country driving
But Pidcock was unstoppable, he drove unstoppably away from the rest of the field and won the European Championship title in a superior manner. The Englishman from Leeds had done this in a similar manner on the queen stage of the Tour de France up to the ski village of Alpe d’Huez, when he beat eventual Tour winner Jonas Vingegaard by more than three minutes. The lead in Cross Country in the Olympic Park over his Danish compatriot Sebastian Fini Carstensen wasn’t that big, Pidcock crossed the finish line after 1:12.09 hours with a lead of just eleven seconds. However, given his superiority in the closing stages, he lost a lot of speed on his victory run.
Pidcock loves these off-road excursions – when his road racing team allows it. In addition to the Olympics and the European Championships in January, the 23-year-old Briton also won the world championship in cyclocross, formerly known as cross-country racing. At the Olympiaberg, which was again very well attended with 13,000 spectators, the chasing group, which in the meantime included five Swiss, recognized that it was pointless to mess with Pidcock. Maybe it was also because the Swiss had lost their best, the vice world champion Mathias Flückiger had left Munich without having achieved anything because a positive doping test from June 5 at the Swiss championships had become public just the day before the race. The B sample is pending, the 33-year-old was immediately suspended by the Swiss association and has been silent so far. Filippo Colombo saved the honor of the mountain bike nation by taking bronze.
There was less excitement for the women, but they did get the rain forecast for the men’s race on Saturday, with the course getting slippery and muddy lap after lap. Here, too, everything pointed to a favorite victory for a long time, because the two French women Pauline Ferrand Prevot and Loana Lecomte quickly pulled away from the field and halfway through the race, defending champion Prevot started the expected solo effort. Until the 30-year-old’s completely dirty chain jumped off the sprocket after climbing the Olympiaberg. In contrast to the road riders, such problems have to be solved in mountain bikes themselves. The 23-year-old Lecomte, who is one of the great talents in the scene, took advantage of her teammate’s bad luck and rode to an unchallenged victory.
And raved about the fantastic atmosphere at the race, which despite the rain was once again lined with thousands of spectators along the route. World Cup leader Anne Terpstra secured bronze at the European Championships. The German drivers had nothing to do with the decision, Leonie Daubermann took 17th place ahead of Nadine Rieder. The German team has the opportunity for revenge in a week, then the world championships are on the program in Les Gets, France.