German mountain bike champion Simon Gegenheimer (GER/30) demonstrated that he’s back in full World Cup form again after finishing fourth in Villard de Lans near Grenoble in France. Team colleague Marion Fromberger (GER/18) was challenged from all angles but succeeded in retaining her number one position in the World Cup after finishing ninth in the stage race.
Nestled in the French Alps, Villard de Lans is normally the kind of venue mountain specialists thrive in, but on this weekend it was the turn of the mountain bike World Cup sprinters to stop by. The competition track runs around different skiing slopes, so the terrain included forest trails and meadows. “My team philosophy is all about training all-round cycling skills, so even if I’m a sprint specialist there have been a number of occasions in my career when I’ve had to tackle races like the Transalp or Brasil Ride, and I really benefitted from that today. I knew what the Alps had in store for me – steep climbs, gravel and meadows – so I opted for my full-suspension iLink bike,” says Simon Gegenheimer, after his first sprint World Cup on a full-suspension bike.
Riding the new sprint bike was an adventurous decision, but certainly the right one. The five-times world champion was in top form again, especially on the short climbs, which Gegenheimer exploited time and again to work his way back towards the front. The final sprint was won by the young French rider Hugo Britta (FRA/22) with Gegenheimer finishing fourth, earning him a place back on the World Cup podium for the first time this season.
In the women’s event, 18-year-old Marion Fromberger started as leader of the World Cup rankings following her victory in Barcelona. “I was super-nervous. Riding in the white jersey of the World Cup leader is a totally different feeling – it’s much more stressful. There are press conferences and autograph sessions and photos everywhere the whole time, so I found it a bit difficult to concentrate on what I was doing,” says Fromberger, describing the new experience. To make things worse, there was a high pollen count and the young MTB Racingteam rider has a pollen allergy. Despite this, she put in a remarkable performance, finishing seventh in the timed event and ninth overall. Her standing counts as another top 10 World Cup ranking, meaning Fromberger notched up enough points to retain her number one position in the World Cup standings following the race in France.
“We’re extremely happy with the results. Only last week I was saying that we’ve invested a huge amount in training to make sure we keep competing for positions on the international podium – and five days later we’re up there again. It’ll be interesting to see if we can keep it going, but the mood and motivation in the team are certainly good,” says team skipper Kerstin Thum, commenting on the first important race in June. Next week it will be the turn of Gali Weinberg (ISR/22) to compete in the German national championships, and then the long-distance specialists will be taking to the saddle: Thum (GER/34) and Laffont (FRA/27) will be competing in the 8-day TransPYR stage race, which crosses the Pyrenees from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic.