Poland’s biggest cycling race got underway of Monday , headlining lead up races to the next Grand Tour race of the year which happens next week, the Vuelta a Espana. The first stage was a 216km course designed to test the riders’ sprinting prowess, it has three sprint races intermittent during the race. I have not been the greatest fan of the roads that the organizers have designed at the finishing stages,considering that the finishes are more or less bunched with a lot of riders. The possibility of crashes is high on those narrow finishes. As a matter of a horrendous crash did happen at a stage last year in Katowice. Check out the footage 👆 above. Fabio Jakobsen of Deceunick-Quickstep was knocked into the weak barriers atbthe downhill finish and suffered serious head injuries as a result.
The organizers have since removed the downhill finish which was dangerous in a positive move as well as replace the barriers with plastic ones. These do absorb crash impact but I prefer sand and water barriers which are more eco-friendly. Of course plastic can be recycled as well. In positive news Fabio will be in the Vuelta next week so at least it wasn’t a career defining injury. The rider who knocked Fabio deserves some blame as he rode dangerously close to him for a fair bit there but didnt pull out. Back to the stage one race, Fabio’s teammate Alvaro Hodeg was beaten at the finish by German Phil Bauhaus after having sprinted early in hopes of putting distance between him and the peloton. Phil knew his strong suit was to come , the final climb about 350 meters to the finish which wasn’t as steep at an incline of about 5 degrees.
The Omnium, one of the gruelling track cycling events produced a gold medal for team GB on Thursday. Matthew Walls won it with 153 points,way ahead of New Zealand’s Stewart with 129 points followed by Italy’s Viviani with 124. What is this Omnium you ask? Well it is a 4 event race consisting of the scratch race, tempo race, elimination and points race. It starts simple enough with a traditional fastest to the finish line race , the scratch race, in which the winner takes maximum points over 10 kilometers.
The tempo race consists of four laps with a sprint race in each lap with winner getting points. The lapped guys have 20 points deducted from their tally while the guys doing the lapping get 20 points added. What in the world is lapping you ask? Well lapping is when you complete a lap over an opponent ,much like track and field athletics. Over to the elimination event now. Riders finishing last in each lap are eliminated so it is a dog eat dog last man standing type of race. The bikes a fitted with special lights that blink letting the rider know they have been eliminated.
The final race which is the points race has the riders carrying their points tally in a 25 kilometer race in which every 10 laps there are sprints worth 5,3,2,1 points. 20 points will be gained by the lapping rider and 20 decucted for the lapped. The rider with the most points wins. Matthew as you can see from the clip trailed in the final lap but dug deep for a we deserved gold for the traditional cycling giant Team GB.
Great win for Italy showing tactical astuteness in smashing the world record by finishing in 3:42:032 against the Danes. The best way to approach this sort of discipline in cycling is to have your best rider at the front in the last one and a half kilometer so that he doesn’t get exhausted. Filippo Ganna went to the front of the quartet with 3 laps to go which was perfect timing for Italy. Mind you they lagged behind Denmark at that point by 0.8seconds and they turned it around at the end to a lead of 0.166 seconds. The hunger and desire for the gold was clear to see. Impressive as well is the fact that Italy had an amateur rider among the four, Francesco Lamon who doesn’t ride in the world tour.
In the bronze medal race,New Zealand suffered a gut wrenching crash in which their rider Aaron Gate broke his collarbone ending their bronze medal hopes. Lining up against Australia in the Oceania showdown, all things looked on course for a thrilling finish with both teams neck and neck. NZ had the intial advantage which was being whittled down by Australia by the half way mark. Gate touched his teammates wheel,which coincidentally happens a lot but doesn’t end up in a crash most of the time at least,causing him to slide off the boards. Trust me when I say that there is no give on that track, it is as hard as concrete. Gate would later admit he glanced over to see where their opponent were and that lapse ended up costing him. Concentration and focus is the name ofghe game in team pursuit cycling, Gate lost it at the crucial time.
Denmark made it to the final of the team pursuit for men beating GB but controversially after a crash. Denmark’s Freddy Madsen rode into Great Britain’s Charlie Tanfield to spark a heated debate as to the winner of the race. Denmark looked the part in the race and caught Tanfield who was the third rider, he had tired and trailed from the group. The crash looked very much accidental, both teams failed to record the mandatory 4km time.
Race organizers ruled that since Denmark had caught up with GB, they therefore were the race winners. This for me was very much spot on. The very essence of the Team Pursuit race is catching the other team which the Danes did. The crash argument is nether here nor there. The issue that GB should press organizers is that the crash impacted on their chances of getting into the bronze medal match, since we didn’t get to see their best time. Tanfield eventually got up and finished the race, was given a time of 4:28:49 by the organizers out of thin air. I believe they should be a special 3 team bronze medal final including team GB in the interest of fairness.
Filippo Ganna’s Italy secured the other gold medal final berth with victory over New Zealand, setting a new world record in 3:42:397.
The cycling discipline moved to the indoor track at Tokyo 2020. On Monday yesterday was the team pursuit discipline. What is team pursuit discipline and how does it do from the individual one? Well the team pursuit starts with two teams on the opposite ends of the track. A team will pursue the other team with the team that posts the fastest time winning. This usually will be the final of the event. The qualifiers of the event involves one team alone on the track setting its own time. Each team will have four riders, each following each other closely. Since the front rather works the hardest, he sometimes peels off the line to rejoin it at the rear to make some poor sucker do all the work.
Australia would be disappointed with their performance in this even when their rider Alex Porter’s handle bars came flying off all over the show. This happened in the qualifying Heats. The good news was he was at the back of the group so no harm was done to his teammates O’Brien,Welsford and Howard. Now the immediate knee jerk reaction is to blame the manufacturer of the bike which for professional reasons I wi not mention. Quality control in manufacturing can never be perfect. There is always that one in a 100 black swan that slips the the quality control cracks and the swan happened to land in the hands of team Australia. Quite unlucky hey.
Anyway Australia are still in contention for the Bronze which is at least a consolation. Team Denmark beat Team GB ‘s record in the team pursuit in a feel good moment. As we know GB doesn’t lose quietly at times. Denmark are being accused of wearing identical shin tape on their legs.🙅 Let me get out of hell out of here before I say something.