The German national championships were turned on their head this weekend in Singen, Germany. Long-time ‘co-favourite’ Karl Platt powered his way to the men’s title ahead of Bulls Racing teammate Stefan Sahm and two-time champion Hannes Genze. Meanwhile Elisabeth Brandau used the slipstream of the men’s hobby cyclists to secure gold in the women’s event.
The win for Platt comes after a long period of waiting for a national medal, often narrowly missing a podium place. However, the 30-year-old rider dominated the 106km event this year, leading two charges to claim gold.
His first attack took place in the race’s first 30km, creating a pack of five leading riders. Title-defender Jochen Kaess (Alb-Gold) struggled to keep up and lost the pack around 70km into the race, with Moritz Milatz (Multivan-Merida) following shortly after.
With 20km left to go, Platt launched another attack that broke him away from the remaining two riders – Genze and Sahm – and carried him to his first national victory. Sahm was able to get clear of Genze with 10km of the race left and finished in second.
Platt was understandably ecstatic with his performance: “It’s unbelievable, a dream come true. I felt really well and before the last attack I thought, ‘okay boy, you are strong, you can do it’,” he said.
Stefan was also supportive of the victory. “Today it was essential to read the race situation and to make the right decisions. Karl deserves the win. I’m happy with him and also with my silver medal.”
The women’s event was also unconventional. The licensed women started first, but soon after the best of the men’s hobbyists had caught and overtaken the leaders of the pack. Elisabeth Brandau (Team Haibike) decided to follow the faster hobbyists, using their slipstream to gain an early 40 second advantage.
Olympic champion Sabine Spitz followed solo in her wake but, without the benefits of the slipstream, had no chance to close the gap. When the riders were about 1min 30 sec apart, Spitz retired from the race saying: “This kind of race was frustrating, it was not fair. I lost my motivation and decided to stop.”
Behind Spitz, Adelheid Morath (Rothaus-Cube) and Anja Gradl (central-Ghost) worked together to try and catch the distant Brandau. They managed to close up on her five minute lead, but after 60km Gradl began to struggle; leaving Morath to chase alone. The gulf between second and first began to close as Morath put every fibre of her being into catching the run-away lead.
However, with just 10 km to go and 30 seconds between her and a near-exhausted Brandau, Morath crashed badly, losing her chance at the title.
That left Brandau to claim the win, an annoyed Morath in second place and Gradl finishing in third.
Brandau, a 22-year-old junior in the German national road team, said, “The last 20km I had to fight really hard. I never expected to win the title. When I went with the men I was surprised that the other women didn’t do the same.”
Morath may have claimed silver, but was clearly annoyed by her misfortune. “I felt really good and I’m annoyed about my crash. I don’t know why these things happen to me,” she said.