Twenty-five year old Lukas Flueckiger and his 20-year old brother Mathias once again made history for Trek World Racing by powering their Top Fuel 9.9 SSLs to 4th and 5th place finishes (respectively) in Round 7 of the UCI World Cup, and in so doing, also set a new first by being the only brothers ever to be on a UCI World Cup podium together.
On hand to watch this amazing result for a family were the parents of the talented pair, as the race was held a little over an hour from the family home. Champery, Switzerland 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 one lap longer, but at the last minute, the UCI lowered the laps and aimed for a shorter race.
Lukas had a front row start, but Mathias who had missed the two Canadian rounds to regain some form for the second half of the season, found himself several rows back. By half way through the start loop though, Mathias was up to 15th and could see his brother up in 8th. By the 3rd lap they had joined up and from then on worked brilliantly as a team to keep their pace. Both were descending the technical single track on their Top Fuels faster than nearly everyone.
Steadily the pair worked their way up through the top ten to be as high as 3rd and 4th going into the last lap. However, the only rider descending better, Ralf Naef (SUI), was slowly making ground and eventually passed the boys in the last lap. Race winner Burry Stander (RSA) passed Julien Absalon (FRA) also in the last lap and that was how they finished, with Naef in 3rd, Lukas in 4th and an ecstatic Mathias taking his best ever World Cup result for 5th. Both finished within 41 seconds of Stander.
Lukas said: "During the race I was comfortable in the top 10 for the first half, and when Mathias joined me it gave me good motivation. With one lap to go I was feeling a bit tired on the climb and having Mathias 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! But I have to say, having the option to run full suspension on this course made so much sense, so I'm happy for the team and for Trek that we did so well today. Now we celebrate!"
Mathias said: "I'm so happy to do this here in Switzerland and with my brother and with my family watching. 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 on lap 3 and we rode together. In the single track 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, it's so good today. The bike was amazing and I'm so happy."
Team Owner Martin Whiteley said: "I'm super excited for the boys. These two have worked hard all year, they're rock stars, but they've been let down at key moments. Today everything went their way and they have scored an amazing result for themselves, the team and the sport. This brings the number of elite World Cup podiums to 10 for Trek World Racing, in our debut year. We've still got one round to go and I can't wait!"
Liam Killeen suffered an injury during the World Championships race last weekend, bruised ribs, but will rejoin the team next week for the World Cup Finals.
1. Burry Stander (RSA) 1hr 41m 06secs
2. Julien Absalon (FRA) @15secs
3. Ralp Naef (SUI) @24secs
4. Lukas Flueckiger (Trek World Racing) @28secs
5. Mathias Flueckiger (Trek World Racing) @41secs