Leipzig. There are nicer things for a young athlete than his older brother over and over again. “I don’t have a problem with that – I’ve always liked to orient myself towards Felix,” said DHfK cyclist Franz Gross (20), whose brother, who is two and a half years older than the German record holder and sixth in the Olympics, made the leap to the top professional class for Team Emirates. .
Franz has also been riding in Pro Team (Rad-Net Rose) since this season, thus following in the footsteps of Big Brother. The two career paths differ in one aspect: while Felix was already focused on his sports career while graduating from high school and dropped out, Franz chose a dual career and is about to graduate: “I am in my third year of college and I want to start in May, successfully completing my exams. “I will never need to go to school again and will have a plan B if the sport is over.” He is happy to have the full support of his boss at Lausitzer Abwassertechnik – who is also the president of the Brandenburg Cycling Union.
Last summer, the man from Leipzig narrowly missed a medal at the European Under-23 Championship. In Apeldoorn (Netherlands), the German quartet in the 4000 meters for the team in a duel with Great Britain was two hundred from reaching the final and winning the silver medal. “We just failed the last metres. We drove fat gears like never before. It means a complete risk. When it rolls, it’s all right. But if we hit a dead end after the shift, it’s all over,” knows the Saxon. The team put everything in this race, in the race for bronze, the four chasers were still dead – so he stayed in fourth place. After all, Franz had an Olympic gold-medal share for the motocross chasers because he led several of the women’s four-material tests in the run-up to Tokyo.
However, last summer brought a very tragic moment for Franz Gross when his coach Heiko Salzwedel died unexpectedly. They both worked well together for a year and a half. “His philosophy aligned with mine very well. He was actually only a little sick, and he only took me for a few days in the clinic.” But then the coach’s condition deteriorated – the terrible news came.
Salzwedel was only 64 years old. He was considered one of the best coaches in the world, and he proved it with the national teams of Australia and Great Britain. The coach from Thuringia has taken care of the likes of Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins. “He totally defied me, sometimes overwhelmed me. Sometimes I only ran half the shows, and then I had to vomit. But Heiko helped me a lot.”
How do you complete now? The obvious thing about the Gross family: Father Mike (52) – a former cyclist with voluntary coach experience (licence) in the Saxony State Assembly – took charge of the little ones’ plans, especially since he had been accompanying the sons closely for years anyway.
“My dad knows my plans in the past few years. He learned a lot from Heiko, talked to him a lot. As an athlete, you can have the best training plan in the world. First of all, you have to have complete confidence and implement the plan.” So that you don’t waste the day Franz always gets up early in the morning when his girlfriend has to go to work. At 9am at the latest, you will be riding your bike to finish your pre-rush hour training.
Its athletic director, Ralph Grabs, is always informed of training programs and values via an app. When Franz traveled to Mallorca for a training session in December, he was in great shape at the start of the season. “So we can’t make that big mistake,” he says. The next confirmation came at the beginning of January at Performance Diagnostics in Frankfurt/Oder. “Franz had great values,” says the father. “I am very happy that it is a potential team for the 2024 Olympics – and that he is still completing his training first.”
Target: 2024 In Paris, Felix and Franz want to shine with the fourth German track. “I’m at least as lively as Felix, I can get out of the starting gate as fast as I can,” says the younger guy. “But Felix has more stamina.” Franz works on it, not lacking in the necessary ambition.
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