WIC : Bart Swings waltzes off with Rennes
Still gaining importance…
That waltz can only be well executed with good partners. Swings had to get rid of dangerous and hungry opponents, even during the home stretch where he had to cope with Yann Guyader (Powerslide) and Nicolas Iten (Swiss Skate Team). In the Womens category, Cecilia Baena (Powerslide) quite logically established herself as the leader: the title-holding Columbian skater just let her explosivity do the talking, against Nicole Begg, the New Zealander (X-Tech MPC).
300 000 spectators gathered on the Charles-de-Gaulle esplanade and in the streets of the city center: As usual, Rennes Sur Roulettes attracts sports lovers! This year France 3 (TV Channel) did not broadcast the World Inline Cup marathon, then it’s a TV – and skating – star who made the effort to come: Taïg Khris, one of the heroes from Koh Lanta and Pékin Express (French TV shows), the very one who jumped from the first storey of the Eiffel Tower last year, indeed was backing this 29th edition of Rennes Sur Roulettes!
Rennes under the sun
The 29th edition was bathed in the sun of spring, and honored by (less numerous but) quality participants. On the starting line there were countless champions: World (3) and European (10 at least) Champions, WIC winners (5), and even a marathon world record holder – Roger Schneider (Swiss Skate Team). As a matter of interest, the Swiss giant (he is 2 meter tall) won in 2007 despite a downpour of rain and heavy gusts of wind. Nothing of that kind this year, though the wind was blowing strong enough to bother the athletes. Wind, uphill and downhill false flats, poor quality stretches… the course was no picnic! In fact it was one of the most tiring: it was almost impossible to hide, and when there are only a dozen people in the pack, it’s easy to get lost behind!
This is what actually happened to serious opponents, like Juan Najib Tobon (Bont Gesingen), who got surprised by being blocked, or Elton De Souza (RPM Poli) who unfortunately had to withdraw too soon because of a wheel breaking: both could have inflamed the final sprint for example. The race didn’t offer any break! Top speed of 50 kph during the straight lines (checked by Arnaud Gicquel), accelerations worthy of a points race at the World Championships… And when the instigator is Bart Swing or Yann Guyader, you’d better bite the bullet.
The Swiss nearly blew the bank off!
In fact, this marathon started for real after the first lap, which was all about observing and choosing one’s place. Julien Levrard (Levallois Sporting Club) decided to start hostilities uphill, in order to evaluate the opponents. As a result, after this first skirmish, a front pack of a dozen of people was formed. Very soon, Bart Swings decided to strike back during the downhill false flat. The race had started for good. Elton De Souza and Nolan Beddiaf 4RPM Poli) didn’t save their energy. Neither did the four Helvetians of the Swiss Skate Team: same level and very well organized, they nearly blew the bank off, regularly launching attacks in a race from which they hardly ever came back empty-handed (Except from Schneider’s win in 2007, Severin Widmer also ended up 3rd last year). In fact, Schneider, Widmer, Iten and Achermann applied well prepared tactics: attacks, solo or by pair, and one team mate in the back to break accelerations…
These tactics could have worked if Nolan Beddiaf or Ewen Fernadez had not sacrificed for their respective leaders, forcing to end up with a sprint. This was not far from happening. But 1,5km from the finish, Alexis Contin (Levallois Sporting Club) tried a last exit. Not incisive enough – he needs a bit more time to re-adapt to wheels. He was passed by Nicolas Iten at the red flame. The Swiss was skating towards the podium. 600 meters before the finish, Bart Swings reacted to it: it was one of the most delicate parts of the course (a small straight line full of ruts with bad asphalt), and the Belgian launched an attack on the Swiss, with Yann Guyader on his heels.
Two World Champions for one crown
By chance, Nicolas Iten didn’t look back: he might have been unsettled if he had seen the two world champions tailing him. He couldn’t take his eyes off of the finish line… But he is passed by Swings 20 meters before the line, and then by Guyader 2 meters before. The three medalists of Rennes Sur Roulettes 2011 managed the marathon with an average speed of more than 40 kph! Eight other skaters ended up nearly in their wake, the last “survivors” of a race dealt briskly.
An elimination race for the Women
If the Men’s international marathon looked like a points race, with sprints and (rare) resting moments, that of the Women’s was more of an elimination race. The last to be “eliminated”, Belgian Jessica Gaudesaboos (RAPS) ends up fifth, 1’20 behind the head quartet. Amongst the four “finalists”, there were two French, Justine Halbout (2APN Avon) and Melissa Chouleysko (IDEEsprint-EO Skates), and two world medalists, Cecilia Baena and Nicole Begg. But four skaters in front after only one-third of the race doesn’t show a very good condition for the women’s pack… Why? Maybe because it is so close to the Road French Championship (the following weekend): some of the competitors would rather play safe to give their best at the Championship – and be selected. The overlapping of the dates, a recurrent problem in our discipline, has a lot to do with it too: indeed there was a round of the European Cup in Weinfelden (Switzerland) at the same time… A situation at least alarming enough for Cecilia Baena to put out a rather singular appeal on the MSC Roller Blog: “Rivals desperately required!”
Let’s get back to the race. Nicole Begg’s constitution and arguments incited the New Zealander to try again and again to force a solo finish: Begg, who is not as swift as Baena for sprints, would have liked to outdistance her rather than having her on her back for the last meters! But Cecilia Baena is not easy to outrun. And 1 km from the finish, Nicole Begg was still trying to force her destiny: her Columbian rival, ideally placed in her wake, and having in mind the dreamt trajectory for the final sprint, moved out of the Timaru skater’s wake at the best moment, 40 meters before the finish line.
She wins her second crown in two editions. Begg ends up second, Halbout third and Chouleysko fourth. Mélissa Chouleysko on the one hand could blame herself for ending up at the foot of a WIC podium, but on the other hand she gets the third place at the provisory ranking of this marathon world cup, behind Nicole Begg and Giovanna Turchiarelli (Ita). And finally, Chouleysko leads her team to the WIC provisory first place: this should make her proud and give her confidence for what will happen next.
Men’s general ranking
1) 01:00:35.999 - Bart Swings - CadoMotus
2) 01:00:36.396 - Yann Guyyader - Powerslide Matter World
3) 01:00:36.470 - Nicolas Iten - Swiss-Skate-Team
4) 01:00:37.811 - Reyon Kay - Bont Arena Geisingen
5) 01:00:37.831 - Brian Lépine - RPM Poli
6) 01:00:39.320 - Julien Levrard - Levallois SC
7) 01:00:39.633 - Severin Widmer - Swiss-Skate-Team
8) 01:00:41.384 - Ewen Fernandez - Powerslide Matter World
9) 01:00:41.557 - Michael Achermann - Swiss-Skate-Team
10) 01:00:50.479 - Alexis Contin - Levallois SC
Women’s General Ranking
1) 01:17:29.957 - Cécilia Baena - Powerslide Matter World
2) 01:17:30.169 - Nicole Begg - X-tech MPC-International
3) 01:17:30.590 - Justine Halbout - 2 APN 77 Avon
4) 01:17:32.227 - Mélissa Chouleysko - IDEEprint-EOSKATES
5) 01:18:50.100 - Jessica Gaudesaboos - RAPS
6) 01:20:22.282 - Jakobine Wolf - IDEEprint-EOSKATES
7) 01:20:22.394 - Renata Karabova - IDEEprint-EOSKATES
8) 01:20:22.531 - Sabrina Gaudesaboos - RAPS
9) 01:20:22.592 - Samantha Michael - X-tech Wheelz
10) 01:26:48.720 - Sina Walder - IDEEprint-EOSKATES
Written by Vincent Esnault
Pictures by Alexandre Chartier
Translated by Close Yr E’s