The third and final day of road competition ended with a bang. Rushing to fit in all the racing before the rain came (and it really came bucketing down about 20 minutes after the last race) the officials were hurrying through the packed schedule. Not packed because there were a lot of races, but packed because the races were long, and involved the coordinating of many people on the track at once.
All the age divisions got to contest a 10k points race. Unlike on the track, this is a points race and not a points/elimination race. The crucial difference is that one can collect some points and then not have to worry about being eliminated if you find yourself at the back of the pack. You only get eliminated if you are lapped, and on a 480m track, it is considerably easier to not get lapped than on a 200m banked track. What this does is it encourages more people to try to go for points sprints because there is less of a risk that they will get eliminated and lose all their hard-earned points. The hope is that if you grab a few points early on in the race, and then 2 people break away, those on the breakaway will collect the bulk of the remaining points, and you’ll be left with a bronze medal. Of course, if everyone gets the same idea, then it can result in a very fast-paced race.
Annoyed by her early and unplanned elimination in the junior A ladies elimination race yesterday, Elena Rigas from Denmark put together a great effort to do pretty much what I described above. Deborah Marchand of France and Sandrine Tas of Belgium broke away in the middle of the race and took most of the points. The pack eventually caught them, and there was a bit of a scramble for the remaining points sprints which would decide the bronze medal. Also interesting from a strategy point of view was the junior A mens race where a very strong Italian team was outsmarted by the French, who took turns on solo breakaways while their team mates held back the Italian skaters. In the end the Italians were strong enough to overcome this, but not before the French had amassed enough points to take gold and bronze with Italy sandwiched in the middle. In fact, the French had a good day, winning four out of six points races. In the senior mens division, Patxi Peula of Spain pulled out an impressive win in a race filled with countless attacks from big-name skaters, all of whom just couldn’t stay away from the pack for long enough to collect the requisite number of points to ensure a win.
Lastly, of course, were the relays which were not without their own controversies. Of course, timing a relay change going at full speed in a crowded field of skaters is a difficult thing, and occasionally things just don’t go according to plan. In the junior B men, Portugal was disqualified, in the senior ladies, the Dutch were disqualified and in the senior men, the Germans also had to stop skating prematurely. France and Italy shared the honours in the junior divisions, while hosts Germany took the win in the senior ladies, and Belgium’s Bart Swings made an impressive high-speed pass out of the bottom corner to go ahead of Michel Mulder of the Netherlands, and take the win.
Full results from the road competition can be found here.
Don’t forget to check out the photo page.