Victorious in the final event of 2011 in Rotterdam last August, which allowed them to snatch the Nations Cup from the Netherlands’ grasp, Germany made a triumphant return to the city on Friday, retaining their Dutch crown and opening out a lead in the 2012 standings with four rounds completed.
Led by the imperious duo of Ludger Beerbaum and Marco Kutscher, both veterans of last year’s win, the Germans committed few errors (with the exception of Marcus Ehning) and claimed victory by a single fault from a Sweden team transformed by the return of world No. 1 Rolf-Goran Bengtsson.
France put their indifferent form behind them to take an impressive third place thanks in the main to second-round clears by Patrice Delaveau, Penelope Leprevost and Kevin Staut.
Winners in the last round at St Gallen, the Netherlands fared poorly on home soil, finishing well off the pace in seventh, behind Ireland, Switzerland and Great Britain. While Jur Vrieling and Gerco Schroder, a recent winner at the Grand Prix de Cannes, both managed to keep the faults down, the same could not be said of team-mates Jeroen Dubbeldam, who incurred 17 in his second round, or Maikel van der Vleuten. In stark contrast, Sweden’s Malin Baryard-Johnsson and Switzerland’s Paul Estermann were the only two riders to go clear twice.
The championship leaders, who have now pulled level with the British on 14 Dutch Nations Cup wins, will have further success in their sights when they host round five of this year’s series in Aachen on Thursday 5 July.