Sunday’s matinée session in Bremen was anything but the quiet, relaxed day that Sundays are known for.
The women kicked off the morning sesion¹ at noon – which, technically, isn’t morning any more, but Saturday’s evening had finished at nearly two in the morning – with a scratch race:
Korina Huizar launched a brave attack with 17 laps to go, but it was not to be, and she was reeled in five rounds later. Soon after, Martina Ruzikova got away, with Isabell Seif along. The duo would stay away for the remaining eight laps, and Ruzikova took the sprint.
After Luke Roberts stamped his name on the men’s elimination race, it was time for the long Madison. Attacks were frequent and fast; because the men wear armbands which light up to indicate that they’ve broken away from the field², the track became a Christmas tree of lights.
(Nico Hesslich, lighting the way)
The race came down to the wire: Andreas Graf, tied for laps but lacking points, took off with 17 laps to go. Grasmann/Hester weren’t having it, though, and it looked like they could drive the pace of the group hard enough to keep the Austrian team from lapping the field one more time. With just four laps to go, the team of Chessmaster Müller got their lap and clinched the race, while Stroetinga’s cunning sprint for points nudged his team into second. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: what a great race!
The sprinters took their turn next. While it’s easy enough to watch and enjoy the sprint events separately – I do, I have to admit – they do count towards an individual and a team total. Here there are six sprinters, three for the German team and three for the English/Czech team. Standings are updated on the official web. Anyway, the keirin is always a crowd favorite for its heated sprints, and this evening’s did not disappoint. Although, it must be said, there was almost more heat on the podium than during the race:
Other highlights included the tandem pursuit. Marcel Kalz piloted one of the tandem pursuit bicycles, and Erik Mohs the other; each tandem had a stoker³ who was a blind member of the paralympic team.
(Marcel Barth has a pom-pom beanie in every color, to match any jersey the six-day organizers give him.)
The women’s elimination was pretty great, too; it came down to the four highest-placed racers. At the end, Ms. Pavlendová took Ms. Marcus by surprise to pull away just after the bell rang.
The men’s short madison came down to another nail-biter. With 20 laps to go, Stöpler/Hesslich took a lap, and were leading the field. Morgan Kniesky waited for his chance, and made a strong attack three laps later. It looked convincing, but so did Lapater/Stroetinga, trying to reel the franco-danish team back in. Alex Rasmussen, currently the overall leader, was chasing so hard that he left the field behind, only to be caught with five laps to go. Kniesky/Mørkøv finally caught the group with just two laps to go, hard work that set them up to take the overall lead by the end of the night.
(Current standings here, little guy, you just have to check your smartphone.)
1. Really, the morning was kicked off by the fans who gathered in the train station adjacent to the track at 11:00 to drink beer by the pint, but that’s another story.
2. Great idea, right?!
3. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that each tandem was stoked, in any sense of the term.