Monday, June 18, 2007

Zurich WIC

Hi Skaters,

Yesterday was the World Cup race in Zurich. Again, as it is every year, it was a hot and fast race. Everyone knows that Zurich often ends in a massive pack sprint, so many of the attempts of skaters trying to get the race to finish on a breakaway didn't come to much. The men's pack is often one of the biggest of the season because everyone show up for this race, even some skaters from outside the WIC.

The race got under way at 4 p.m., a little later than usual because of the Masters World Championships that were held earlier in the afternoon. Often, with the heat in Zurich, parts of the road melt, and you can lose a skate in them, and this leads to crashes galore. So much energy is wasted in staying upright.

Throughout the race many skaters tried to break away, but towards the end all the teams formed up their sprint trains to try and win the massive sprint finish. With about 3km to go, our team's sprinter, Raphael, crashed. That sent our team in all directions so it made things very difficult for us to get any sort of sprint together.

I turned around to see if Raphael was coming back to the pack because, if he was, I was going to try and help him. He had told me he was feeling good during the race; he had some good results in sprint finishes of late; and he crashed last weekend and caught back up, so I believed he could still do OK. Unfortunately he was too hurt to carry on. In the last "U" turn there was a pretty big crash. I didn't go down but I was held up behind it. That pretty much put an end to my race. Roger Schneider was able to finish a solid fifth which saved the day for the team.

Unfortunately the race (mainly the finish) was marred by fighting in the pack. Something needs to be done in the future to clean things up. It quite often means that not always the fastest skater wins; insteadk, the skaters who get the clearest run at the finish often win.

This coming weekend is another "fast" race: the World Cup in Sursee. Two, 21km laps of a lake. I hope things are cleaner this weekend.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Weinfelden Relay and Marathon.

Hi Skaters,

Last weekend was a first-time WIC race in Weinfelden, Switzerland. First off though there was a relay held on Friday night. The relay skaters raced for their pro team. The top eight teams in the WIC went directly into the semi-final, and then the top three teams in each semi went to the final, plus one wild card team that could be added by the WIC organisation, to make — believe it or not — a 7-team final!!!

Needless to say the straightaway where the changes took place was like a battle zone. This was a very high-class relay. There were no less than 10 current and past World Champions spread over the teams. The final was pretty much full-on from the start as all the teams were fighting hard to be near the front to avoid any crashes.

Going into the last rotation of skaters my team, Athleticum-Rollerblade hit the front. Then going into the final lap of the race, my teammate Raphael Pflug put me in first position. I held the lead until the last corner when a flying Jorge Cifuentes (World Inline Center) passed me up the inside for the win.

The results were:
1st Matter World Inline Center
2nd Athleticum Rollerblade
3rd Citius Team Germany
4th TNT
5th Powerslide Phuzion
6th Sportvital Rollerblade
7th Zepto

Saturday was the marathon. It started and finished in the small town of Weinfelden. The 'village' where all the athletes were based was in the car park (parking lot) of the new banked track. The course was two 21km laps with two hills each lap. There were some dodgy turns and some narrow roads that caused a few crashes, but again it was the same senario as all the WIC races. Attack after attack.

In this case I managed to make the winning breakaway. I won't go too much into the actual race report because everyone knows what happened***. Fifth was not a bad result for me — not good, but not too bad.

[***Iguana's race report: The French Yann Guyader (Matter World Inline Center) surprised at the first Weinfelden SsangYong World Inline Cup with a great winning time of 1:01.12,11. The Columbian Diego Rosero (Sportvital Rollerblade) finished just behind Guyader second and Massimiliano Presti (Bont Hyper), the winner of the last stage in Incheon, got third.]

On Sunday there was another WIC race in Dijon France. It was a Class 1 race. I think it awardes 60 points for the win, instead of the usual 125. Our team decided not to go. There were several reasons. We had just returned from Korea so there was still some jet lag hanging around from that, three of us had raced Friday night as well as Saturday. Also the marathon on Saturday finished quite late. Aside from that, this weekend is one of the most important marathons of the season for me and the team, Zurich.

Zurich is always a strange race. It's pretty short at 35km and quite 'easy' because of the huge pack size and flat course. But it is sometimes quite hard. Of course, a lot depends on your role in the race. It's often quite hot there, too.

I will keep you posted on how it goes. In the meantime, I am off training.

Thanks,

Scott

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Incheon

Hi,

Well Inchoen didn't really go according to plan for me and my team, but it was the same for most of the other teams. Most of the skaters were surprised to learn that the fastest finisher in the WIC, Luca Saggiorato, wouldn't be in Incheon due to a training crash a couple of days earlier. However, about 5km into the race, his team captain Massi Presti blew that out of the water. He attacked with a local Korean skater. Most of the other teams thought that the pack would catch them again on the slight downhill before the finish, but they were never seen again. Skaters first tried attacking to bring them back; then with about 20km to go, a teams team time trial of sorts happened on the front. All the big teams left in the pack sent a guy, sometimes two guys to the front. It was one of the most organised chases I have ever seen in a WIC event. However Massi and his Korean friend pulled away from us!!!

About 7km before the finish a group of eight skaters finally got away from the main pack. Our team had Reyon Kay in it. He held on for a good 7th place after quite a fair amount of work before hand. In the end, Massi easily beat his Korean breakaway friend to the finish, and Jorge Cifuentes from Matter came in third to give his team its first podium of the year.

This weekend is something a little different. On Friday evening, there is a relay race for the WIC teams on the new banked track in Switzerland. Then on Saturday there is a brand new WIC marathon, also in Switzerland. I don't know any details about the course, there have been so many stories floating around from "it's an easy course" to "it could be one of the hardest events of the year." So we'll see on Saturday.

Thanks
Scott

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

News.

Hi Everyone,

There has been a bit of down time over the past couple of weeks. We've got two weekends without races. It's been a good chance to get some solid training in before the next block of racing starts.

There has been alot of talk over the past couple of weeks about wheels. My team is sponsored this year by MPC. Last year MPC really burst on to the scene at the World Champs. I know I used them, and aside from Joey Mantia I think they won a large percentage of the medals. Since then they've been working hard on develping wheels. They have released the VT models, which is our wheel of choice for dry marathons. As everyone knows they are also responsible for the famous Storm Surge wheel. In regards to 110mm wheels I have never skated on them, and to be honest I don't think I will this season unless they prove to be head and shoulders above 100mm. Also I have one eye fixed on the World Championships where you can only use a maximum of 100mm. Different skaters are popping up on 110mm set ups all the time and to be honest they have yet to make a huge impact. Powerslide is one company that has invested alot of time into the whole 110mm scene. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next 5 or 6 weeks, it could once again lead our sport in a different direction with material.

During the day we often do alot of nothing. Of course training takes up a large percentage of time. Over the next couple of weeks we are blessed with the Giro di Italia (Tour of Italy bike race). Since I am a pretty big cycling fan, most of my afternoons are spent in front of the TV.

Its is also important for us to rest when we can. Rest is often as important as the training itself.

Next Thursday we fly to Incheon. The race is Sunday morning and we leave Monday. There are a couple of talking points about this race, first the prize money. It's noramlly US$10,000 for the win so quite often the race for overall points gets thrown out the window and it's just a race for the money. Second, the hotel. All the WIC teams stay at the Hyatt. It's a 5 star hotel and that's quite a rare thing for most skaters.

Thanks for reading.

Scott

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Rennes

Sorry for my late report but I didn't get back to Swiss until yesterday evening, and was really tired from the travel, let alone the race.

As I said before the WIC race in Rennes is famous for rain. The town of Rennes is located on the Western side of France and all sorts of weather gets blown in off the Atlantic. We left very early Saturday morning from Zug. We caught the train to Basel where Reyon and I met up with the rest of the Athleticum team. From there we caught the TGV to Paris, the metro (subway) in Paris to another station, and then another TGV from there to Rennes.

This is the only marathon of the season where the ladies' race is held seperate from the men's. The ladies' race is 40km and started at 1400 and the men's is 53km and started at 1600. It was raining and then it wasn't all morning. It made wheel choice quite a gamble: run with the new Storm Surge wheels in the hope it would rain, but if it dried it would be tough to push them for 53km; or use the 'normal' dry weather wheels, the pink VT's, but if it rained it would turn the course into (pardon the pun) a skating rink. In the end, I settled on the gold Street Fight wheels. It was sort of like having a dollar each way.

The race started under cloudy skies. The race was very fast considering the narrow and technical course. On the second lap there was a huge crash on one of the narrow sections. I crashed here and was just standing up when I was taken down again from behind. Because it was early in the race and as a great show of sportsmanship, the bunch waited for everyone to get going again. Almost straight away it started raining. There was a U-turn and I crashed again just as the winning breakaway took off. While I was unlucky, my teammate Roger Schneider made it. Over the course of the next 20km, the breakaway group steadily built its lead. During this time, we encountered some of the worst conditions I've ever raced in: pouring rain and winds that were strong enough to blow you over. The guys in the breakaway started attacking each other to try and go solo to the finish. Towards the end Roger, my teammate, and Shane Dobbin from Sportvital Rollerblade attacked and got a gap. Meanwhile, in the bunch, I attacked with about 10km left.

In the end, Roger held of Shane for this first big win of the season and the second WIC win for Athleticum in 2 weeks. Massi Presti led home the rest of the breakaway, then I came in for 7th and then my team mate Reyon Kay won the pack sprint for 9th. So it was another good weekend for Athleticum with 3 in the top 10.

Since we've been back in Swiss, it's been cold and wet. I hope it clears soon because I was looking forward to getting some good training in without having races on at the moment. Our next WIC race is at the start of June in Incheon, Korea. Everyone wants a good result there because it's our sport's richest race. So there is that extra motivation.

Thanks for reading.

Scott.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Rennes.

Hi Everyone.

This coming Sunday is the next World Inline Cup race in Rennes, France. Rennes is famous amoung the skaters for wet weather, and this year it looks like it won't dissapoint. I just checked an online weather report and its saying a 70% chance of rain. We travel very early on Saturday morning on France's TGV train, and arrive in Rennes mid-afternoon. The race is at 2pm (CET) on Sunday. Then we return home early Monday morning.

The race is normally tough. The French skaters are usually quite strong, and the race itself is a little longer than the other WIC races at 53km. The usual wet weather and slippery roads are the icing on the cake.

Yesterday I did a training session on the new banked track in Switzerland. It was a huge training group, and skaters from all over the world were there; New Zealand, Australia, Swiss, Canada, Argentina, and Estonia! It was cool to skate with a big group.

Ok I better go and pack my bags.

Scott