The long road back to glory – the German team pursuit squad
The summer of 2000 was the last time that the German team pursuit squad me the shout as the “Golden four”. Robert Bartko, Daniel Becke, Guido Fulst and Jens Lehmann formed the last team pursuit squad, who were able to fight for the crown of the event in Sydney. After considerable success in the 1960s and 1970s in the 4000-meter pursuit event, the media had crowned this the flagship event of German cycling. The four-man squad was considered a guarantee for medals, winning Gold at all major events in track cycling. But after 2000 the subscription on Gold was terminated. All subsequent generations of four-man squads failed to build on the great success of the past. The once certain medal favorites failed to take part in the most prestigious track cycling competition in both 2008 and 2012. The four-man squad was far from being at the top of the cycling world.
Then in February 2015, finally at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Paris, the dry spell came to end. It was Henning Bommel, Theo Reinhardt, Domenic Weinstein and Kersten Thiele, who were able to compete, for the first time since 2002, for a medal at a World Championship. Although they just missed out on the bronze medal, ending with a fourth place finish, they showed the world, with a new German record of 3:57.166 minutes in the qualifying round, that they are back in the fight for the top spots. A few weeks earlier, at the European Championships, the Germans shocked the cycling world winning the silver medal. It already loomed at this time, when it comes to the greatest sporting competition in 2016, that a German four-man squad will be back there after a twelve year absence.
At 30 years old, Henning Bommel is the eldest of the five men who wants to write further chapters in the success story of the German men’s team pursuit squad in the coming days. Since 2006, Henning has been a part of the national team. The fact that the four-man squad comprised of Henning Bommel, Theo Reinhardt, Nils Schomber, Kersten Thiele and Domenic Weinstein is finally back in the biggest sporting event after two consecutive missed qualifications, is a success in itself. Of course, they are seeking for more than just qualification. The expectations have been raised and the German four-man squad wants to play a crucial role in the allocation of the top spots (story in German). However, even if a spot on the podium cannot be obtained, these five have already achieved one thing: conquering the long road back to glory for the German team pursuit squad.