Archivo de la etiqueta: report

Bye bye Bremen

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The last night in Bremen was everything that we could have hoped for. The short Madison ended without any team taking a significant advantage, although Lampater’s strong final sprint made us wonder what was left in the tank for the final.

The tension was thick as the hour-long (plus 50 laps!) madison began. The crowd had been whittled down to the pure sports fans, too, with no concerts on the evening’s program.

And we would not be disappointed. Lampater/Stroetinga went up a lap early to get a taste of first place, Burkart/Politt attacked several times to try to dislodge the World Champions, and Graf/Müller reminded us why they are the European Madison champions as they fought to catch fourth-placed Grasmann/Marguet.

Neither effort was meant to be: with just 12 laps to go, Rasmussen saw a gap and put in a strong attack, distancing the group despite the chase efforts of their competitors. That lap was enough to move into first place, but Rasmussen kept going, lapping the field again to seal the deal.

Full results below, and the official race report is here.

1. Marcel Kalz/Alex Rasmussen (0) 357
2. Morgan Kneisky/Jesper Mørkøv (1) 297
3. Leif Lampater/Wim Stroetinga (1) 286
4. Christian Grasmann/Tristan Marguet (5) 233
5. Andreas Graf/Andreas Müller (7) 153
6. Nick Stöpler/Nico Heßlich (12) 225
7. David Muntaner/Albert Torres (17) 117
8. Achim Burkart/Nils Politt (19) 118
9. Martin Blaha/Vojtech Hacecky (20) 102
10. Marcel Barth/Erik Mohs (26) 110
11. Luke Roberts/Bobby Lea (28) 143

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I’m all about that race (no treble)

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:IMG_7539.jpg

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.

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(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:

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(…)

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.

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(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.

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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.

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(Current standings here, little guy, you just have to check your smartphone.)

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Notes:

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.

Bremen report, part one.

It is difficult, sometimes, to know where to start. Arriving in Bremen, I was excited for the 51st edition of their six-day race, the first edition with status ,allowing races to earn points. But I was not prepared for everything else: the 166m track inside an arena with a capacity for 5.000, two disco balls, three announcers, four jumbo-trons, pyrotechnics, racers with light-up armbands, three stages, at least one of which feels like a nightclub, pretzels on necklaces, light-up bunny ear headbands, a mascot, madison racing, sprinters, womens’ events, paralympic racers, youtube sensations, magicians, sing-alongs set to techno music, and, of course, some great racing.

So, just to jump in: a short list of some highlights from Friday and Saturday:

● Fire. Yeah, I said it. Every time (well, okay, not every time) something exciting happens, it’s punctuated with fire. Not just from one little flamethrower, if such a thing even exists. From 17, count ‘em, 17 flame-throwing canons.IMG_7038

(In the background, you can see that the Incredible Hulk also showed up to enjoy the festivities.)

● If you’d like to see the sprinters in action, you’re going to have to buy a ticket and show up next year. But! The third- or fourth-best thing would be to have a look at this video that I took of a 3-up match sprint.

● Bremen serves up elimination (miss n’ out) races in both individual and team flavors. Still, veterans Bobby Lea and Luke Roberts work pretty well together even when they’re not, explicitly, on the same team: the duo finished Friday’s individual elimination race alone on the track, having worked together to dispense with their competitors. (Make sure you check out Bobby Lea’s Instagram updates, via Bicycling Magazine.)

● Racers wear light-up armbands, so that the announcer can light up a racer in order to show the crowd who he’s talking about. But if you give the racers enough time between events, this is the kind of thing they come up with:

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(Marcel Barth, the king of the wave.)

● There’s women’s racing too! Not just points races, either – although points races are a lot of fun to watch – but eliminations, scratch races, and dernies. It’s cool to see different faces on the track, right alongside all of the other events.

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(#sufferface)

Mickie Krause took the stage at halftime, two days in a row, to get the crowd singing along to his bar anthems set to techno beats. And the crowd loved it, packing into the middle of the track as if Sercu and Merckx themselves had shown up to race:

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(He wears his sunglasses at night.)

● Then again, Krause’s fans got nothing on Marc Hester‘s fans.

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(But then, who isn’t a fan of Marc Hester?)

● On the other side of the complex, the band Blast was playing. But you’ll have to check another video to get a taste.

● The German word for madison race is Jagd, which translates back to hunt. Cool, eh? Which reminds me how good the short madison race was on Saturday: super fast, with constant attacks to a strung-out field. Everyone finished within a lap of each other, spare a thought for Barth/Mohs’ last-minute attack, which just ran out of road before they could lap the field.

Stay tuned for more tomorrow.

I just can’t Ghent enough

The King of the Sixes. The race we’ve all been waiting for. It’s everyone’s favorite; the crowd is incomparable. It’s hard not to believe the hype. I mean, just look at this track:

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Sweet, eh? It’s one of the shortest in the world, at 167 meters. It’s also one of two velodromes in Ghent. Yeah, that’s right. How many cities have two velodromes¹? And word on the street is that they open this one exclusively for the Ghent Six. If you build, it they will come. And come, they do:

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(Another poor papparazzi photo of Mr. Cavendish.)

Sorry, I just had to get that one out of the way². As a result of Cavendish’s star power, the Ghent six sold out for at least four nights; any tickets which weren’t scooped up by Belgian cycling fans or freaks like me got bought up by (I assume) Cav fans, and the place was packed:

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(No hay pan para tanto chorizo. Es que no hay bastante trigo en el mundo para hacer pan para tanto chorizo.)

So, if you imagine the most crowded sports bar you’ve even been in, scale it up to a capacity of 5000 people, and then rip out all of the TV screens and put a giant bowl of wood inside³, you’d have a pretty good idea about how it feels to be at the Ghent Six. When the favorites attack, the noise is deafening. I’ve been to punk-rock shows with quieter, better-behaved crowds.

It’s a hard thing to describe, no matter how good my camera is or how much ink I spill. So I started taking videos:

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(Can you do the can-can?)

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(Gotta love the miss-n-out!)

What isn’t hard is to see how much fun this is. Even the racers are having a blast:

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(Better get your laughs in now, Mr. Hoevik, before Mr. Hester gets on the front.)

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(Mr. Rasmussen schmoozing with the world champion.)

All of this is to say nothing about the racing, although the program is pretty standard: the Madison, a couple of time trials, a couple of elimination sprints, the derny:

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(Mr. Lampater throws Mr. Dillier into the fray.)

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(Welkom in Gent, indeed.)

Make sure to check out Cycling Weekly for more race coverage.

What was really cool about Ghent is that the women’s events run alongside the men’s. Normally⁴ relegated to the two-hour time slot before the pro racing starts, here it was great to have the women’s events in between the men’s.

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(Lined up for the scratch race.)

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(Ms. D’Hoore, putting the “flying” into the flying lap. Click here to check out an interview with her.)

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(Ms. Druyts, off the front, as usual.)

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(Flowers from Patrick Sercu? No wonder everyone’s riding so fast!)

Most spectators take advantage of the awards ceremonies go buy more beer, use the restroom, etc. But much to my dismay, the bathrooms weren’t free.

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Yes, I get it: in Belgium, it’s normal to pay for the restrooms in concerts and sporting events. And no, €0,50 isn’t a lot of money. But still, charging someone for their beer and then to pee it out is kind of like McDonalds charging you for becoming diabetic.

And, weirder still, the city of Ghent has installed free public toilets around the city, and done us all the favor of marking them as men’s:

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But I kept my chin up and paid my fifty cents, trying not to think about the fact that there are bathrooms in northern Europe that make much, much more money than I do. Because I had better things to do, like hang around with gentlemen who are much, much classier than I:

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1. Okay, wise guy, you’re right: Santiago also has two velodromes, and so do Bogotá, Prague, Zürich, Mexico City, Lima, and, of course, Roubaix. And I bet you’ve already read Mr. RNG’s excellent post on ‘t Kuipke, huh? Well, take a moment to pat yourself on the back.

2. If you’re a Cavendish fan and you haven’t already bought a copy of Rouleur #50 , please put down your web-reading device, get on your bike, ride to the store, and do so now. On the way, you should ask yourself what you’re doing with your life.

3. I know, it’s my fantasy too, but stay with me, I’m making a point here.

4. Ahem, “normally.” I’ve been to exactly five six-day races over the past two years, so I really don’t have any idea about what normal is.