Simon Gegenheimer (GER/30) and Marion Fromberger (GER/18) both came home from this year’s German championships without a jersey for their efforts. Fromberger’s hopes were dashed by a moment of misjudgement selecting gears, while Gegenheimer was robbed of a title chance by a nasty fall.
Overall, MTB Racingteam were hoping for a different outcome after the 2019 German championships, which took place this year in Wombach east of Frankfurt. Cycling conditions were everything one could have hoped for at a national competition, with a ride on a natural trail along the River Main, a challenging descent in technical terms and a steep but not too long hill. Both of the top favourites competed in the same team: Marion Fromberger, winner of the World Cup event in Barcelona, and the four-times title holder Simon Gegenheimer. But at the end of the day, neither of the favourites came home with a medal.
The first disappointment came for Fromberger, who started the race extremely strongly and continued to try to impose her superiority on her competitors from the front. “I wanted to show them that even if I’m only 18, I’m already strong enough to become the German champion. And I probably was strong enough, but clearly I didn’t have the right tactics yet,” says Fromberger after completing her race. It was finding the right gear in the final bends that caused problems for the young sportswoman – an unforced error that allowed Fromberger’s competitors to slip past and ultimately cost her the lead, which she had successfully held on to until that point. The final straight was then not long enough for Fromberger to fight back on during the last sprint, let alone secure a place on the winner’s rostrum. As a result, she eventually finished her German Championship race fifth.
Lacking championship experience is one thing her team mate Simon Gegenheimer could never be accused of. The four-times German titleholder and multiple World Cup champion knows exactly how to deal with pressure in such situations. “I was in excellent form, and everything felt right going over the bumpy track in Wombach. I didn’t feel I had to pull out all the stops during the timed section or the first race stages. So at that point, there were a number of indications I could be heading for a fifth title,” says Gegenheimer. Unfortunately however, a medal was about to slip through his fingers on the last bend: Gegenheimer was in second position coming up on the inside, and it looked like he’d made a wise decision. But then the young rider sprinting in front of him, who had led all the way until this point, suffered a fall, not only costing himself the title, but also sweeping the top favourite Gegenheimer out of the race. Both riders fell to the ground, leaving the finish open for a new German champion, Felix Klausmann, who also put in an excellent performance during the race. Looking back on the day overall, Gegenheimer was philosophical: “There’s no point kidding myself – for me nothing feels like a good day at the German sprint championships unless I win. But that’s sport for you, and I would never want to accuse the young rider who was at the front of doing anything wrong. We all go for it 100% and sometimes these things happen. Unfortunately, I also got pulled into it but it wasn’t as if he did it on purpose, and it was also a huge disappointment for him at the finishing line – and his parents. There’ll be more amazing opportunities for all of us in the future,” summarises Gegenheimer calmly yet confidently – and if anything, he is now able to reflect on what it feels like coming away from the German national championships without a medal.