The Flueckiger Brothers, 25-year-old Lukas and his 20-year-old Mathias, made World Cup history for their Trek World Racing team by finishing fourth and fifth in round seven of UCI World Cup cross country. They became the only brothers ever to be on a UCI World Cup mountain bike podium together in Champery, Switzerland. It was also Mathias' best World Cup result yet.
Their parents were on hand to watch, as the race was held a little over an hour from the family home. Champery will also be the host venue for the World Championships in 2011, something both riders are looking forward to.
With perfect conditions for racing, no rain but partly cloudy skies, a field of 146 men started the seven-lap event (one start loop and six full laps). Originally the race had been set to be one lap longer, but at the last minute, the UCI lowered the total number of laps and aimed for a shorter race.
Lukas had a front row start, but Mathias, who had missed the two Canadian World Cup rounds to regain some form for the second half of the season, found himself several rows back. By halfway through the start loop, however, Mathias was up to 15th and could see his brother up in eighth. By the third lap, they had joined together and from then on, worked together keep their pace. Both were descending the technical singletrack faster than nearly all the other contenders.
Steadily, the pair worked its way up through the top ten to be as high as third and fourth going into the last lap. However, the only rider descending better, fellow Swiss racer Ralf Naef, was slowly making ground and eventually passed the two in the last lap. The race was won by South African Burry Stander (Specialized), who passed Julien Absalon (Orbea) on the final lap.
"During the race, I was comfortable in the top 10 for the first half, and when Mathias joined me it gave me good motivation," said Lukas. "With one lap to go, I was feeling a bit tired on the climb and having Mathias there helped me a lot. I thought I was one of the best downhillers in the race, and then Ralf went past so fast on the downhill it really shocked me!"
"I'm so happy to do this here in Switzerland and with my brother and with my family watching," said Matthias. "I had a pretty good start and got stuck a bit in traffic on the descent. Only the top 10 got through that without traffic, but I just kept pushing until I was in the top 10. Then I met Lukas and we rode together. In the singletrack, we split up a little because it was safer to see where you were going, but then on the flat sections we rode together. After the disappointment of last week (at Worlds), it's so good today."
"These two have worked hard all year, they're rock stars, but they've been let down at key moments," said Team Owner Martin Whiteley. "Today everything went their way and they have scored an amazing result for themselves, the team and the sport."