Bad luck – there’s no other way to describe the fortunes of Marion Fromberger (GER/18) and Simon Gegenheimer (GER/30) at the UCI MTB Eliminator World Championships in Belgium. Both riders had to write off their hopes of winning a medal due to chain problems. But fast forward three days ... and both were up on the World Cup pedestal again.
Ask Marion Fromberger what participating in the World Championships meant to her and she’ll tell you it’s one of the most important races of the season – an honour to compete in. But this year, her race was to end in tears – and sadly those were not tears of joy. Both Fromberger and her team mate Gegenheimer had to abandon their attempts to win a medal early in the race due to chain problems. “I know this sounds silly, but I guess we were just unlucky. The chains were new, we’d ridden them in, neither of our racers mistimed gear shifts and it wasn’t the chain link that cracked. Our mechanics have gone through the parts and looked at the slow motion time and time again, and we can’t accuse ourselves of doing anything wrong,” explains team skipper Kerstin Thum following her team’s disappointing result at the World Championships in Belgium.
Only three days later, it was time to make amends at the World Cup in Valkenswaard in the Netherlands. “My aim today is to show everyone that I was in the right form to win another World Cup medal three days ago,” stated Simon Gegenheimer before taking to the saddle in Valkenswaard. Marion Fromberger was also raring to go in the Netherlands and as she pedalled up the long opening straight, she certainly looked world-class. The roads were wet on the day, so Fromberger stayed at the front to avoid another bad-luck disappointment. “I was determined to make it a good result, so I just kept telling myself to avoid all the stressful situations or falling off,” explained the young German racer. Her plan worked, and Fromberger sealed a Top 5 position on the winner’s rostrum. She’s so ambitious, however, that rather than relishing being on the pedestal, she felt she’d missed out on an opportunity to snatch victory. It was nonetheless a magnificent achievement and the result secures Fromberger third position in the overall World Cup rankings.
Simon Gegenheimer spent less time brooding or looking for ways to improve his performance after the race. He was totally focused from start to finish and, as usual, entered the race like a level-headed poker player. “I rode my full-suspension iLink, so it was easier for me to overtake on the bends and jumps. I could then throttle the pace down a bit on the long straights,” explains the six-times world cup winner. With 1000 metres to go, he was third behind the recently crowned world champion from the previous week, Titouan Perrin Ganier (FRA/28) from France. It was at this point that Gegenheimer played to his strengths, not only overtaking Ganier, but also pedalling past the fastest rider in the timed event, Lehvi Braam (NED/24). Coming out of the bend and onto the home straight, he emerged as the leader. “Actually I have to admit I’m a bit long in the tooth so I know how to play the game – I knew if I went for it then and just hammered it, it was my big chance to win the World Cup,” said Gegenheimer in an interview after the race. Indeed, the German rider did pull it off, eventually winning by a full length. Not only does this underscore the good form he was in for the World Championships, it also shows that he keeps coming back year after year to the ranks of World Cup winners.