We kick off our coverage of next week’s UCI Track Cycling World Cup in London with a series of nation-by-nation previews. And first we’re going to have a look at the resurgent German team.
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The Team Sprint battle that everyone focused in the lead up to Beijing was between Great Britain and France, but behind them all the way – and standing on the third step looking on in the Laoshan Velodrome – were the Germans.
René Enders, Maximilian Levy, Stefan Nimke didn’t look too disappointed back in 2008. In fact, they looked like a team that had just completed phase one of a long term plan. And phase two seems to have been going very nicely since then. Nimke and Levy had picked up three individual World Championships between them – two Kilo Golds for Nimke, one Keirin for Levy – and they’ve added the formidable Robert Förstemann to the mix.
Förstemann gives them options. It was he – along with Enders and Nimke – that took the Bronze in the Worlds at Pruszków in 2009, and – with Levy and Nimke – Gold in Ballerup in 2010. Enders, Levy and Nimke repeated that feat in 2011 in Apeldoorn. Over the winter, Förstemann, Enders and Eilers won in Kazakhstan (as Team Erdgas), with Enders, Levy and Nimke taking Gold in Cali. They sat out the Beijing round but are back in force in London and with Botticher the on-form individual sprinter at the moment and Eilers already a World Cup Gold medalist in the Team Sprint, you can’t entirely rule out two German trios on the podium.
With Nimke a very good bet for a medal in the Kilo and Levy odds on to make the Final, at the very least, in the keirin, the German sprinters have a big part to play in consolidating the country’s lead over France at the top of the World Cup standings.
The one discipline they’ve not quite cracked yet is the individual sprint. Förstemann famously dumped Sir Chris Hoy in to the Reps in 2010 – despatching Matt Crampton in the Quarter Finals. But that’s as close as they’ve got. Stefan Botticher – who took Gold in the World Cup in Cali – may be the man to change that, but whether it will be this year is open to question.
The endurance side doesn’t look so strong. After Roger Kluge’s Bronze in the Scratch race and Silver with Olaf Pollack in the epic Madison final where they lost out in the closing stages to Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish, there have been no medals of any colour.
(As Team Erdgas 2012)
The women’s squad has often showed potential – Charlotte Becker was European Under 23 Points Race champion twice and took Silver in the European Team Pursuit with Lisa Brennauer and Madeleine Sandig and Kristina Vogel has medaled in the Sprint at European level – but they’re just off the pace in World terms.
Tomorrow’s preview will look at another Team Sprint power house – France.