Marion Fromberger (GER/18) and Gali Weinberg (ISR/22) have automatically secured their tickets to the 2019 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships after finishing in the top 10 at the European Championships in Brno (Czech Republic) and the Marathon Series in Montafon (Austria).
For Fromberger, the key priority was to prove she was in top form again in the sprint discipline following her World Cup victory in the opening race of the season in Barcelona. The European Championships in Brno were the ideal opportunity to confirm the women’s bikes were as up to par as their personal fitness. “I’m 18, so starting any race in a Germany jersey is a really big thing for me. I found it a bit nerve-wracking again – as usual – but now I’m pretty pleased with my performance and it was good to show everyone that I’m one of the fastest racers internationally,” comments Fromberger on coming 8th at the European Championships.
At first everything pointed to a higher ranking at the championships. Fromberger turned in a magical performance, clocking up the quickest time in the qualifying heats to secure position one as they entered the race. But Czech rider Barbora Prudkova managed to slip by Fromberger after finding the ideal inside line, and not only did this throw her off her concentration, she also relinquished important positions. Despite the setback, Fromberger fulfilled her overall goal and as a result, she’ll be competing once again in a Germany jersey at the World Championships in Belgium. Fromberger will be joined at the championships by her MTB Racingteam colleague Simon Gegenheimer (GER/30), who has already secured his qualification and is currently training intensively.
For Gali Weinberg, sprinting to the finishing line was not so much of a priority. Her aim at the weekend was to secure a place at the World Championships in a longer discipline. The Marathon Series in Montafon were destined to provide the right venue for Weinberg, with a 130km race and a total ascent of 4500 metres. The riders were taken up the Kristberg mountain for the race, through Latschau and on to the Bielerhöhe pass, the highest and final point of the Silvretta High Alpine Road. Weinberg’s goal when she mounted her bike was to finish in the top 10, so at no point did she fight to occupy first position. “I knew it was going to be a long and really gruelling day. But just like the rest of the team, I find it important to stay focused on the overall goal, which today was about qualifying for the World Championships and finishing in the top 10. I think I paced myself well, though it was just under seven hours so it was sometimes a struggle and I suffered a bit. But when you’re racing professionally, ultimately what mattered to me was the result and finishing tenth,” says Weinberg, who now also qualifies for the World Championships. It was also the first time the Israeli had finished a World Cup event as one of the fastest 10 female riders.
There were plenty of reasons for team management to be contented, as Kerstin Thum also expressed to the women riders: “Now’s not the right time to talk about unnecessary manoeuvring trying to overtake competitors, or slipping behind. Our two girls delivered the goods. So after the men qualified, we’ve now also got the women’s qualifications in the bag. This speaks volumes – it’s not as if our riders are going out for a Sunday bike ride round the local park; they’ll all be pulling on a team shirt for their respective countries at the World Championships. That really underscores our diversity as a team competing at the highest level,” says Thum about the performance of her riders.