11th edition of Dijon’s Skating Marathon
“High society” in Burgundy
In their race(s) for the podium, the French came back from the capital of Burgundy with two World Champion Titles (O60 for Blaire Boada, and U40 for Jean-Stéphane Sierra who keeps the title in his possession one more year), three silver medals (O60 for Christiane Buquant, U60 for Claudie Duval and U40 for Cédric Faron). The “youngers” followed their steps: in the international marathon, Yann Guyader ends up second after a spurting race, while Justine and Clémence Halbout get hold of the second and third places on the podium! As a conclusion: the French did good results, and no doubt the upper crust was in Dijon...
“If you want to win, you have to attack; the one who defends cannot but lose” said Clausewitz. The German, who was both a huge admirer and a huge detractor of Napoléon, must have inspired Yann Guyader (Powerslide), who was compared to the Corsican conqueror a couple of years ago, given how similar their styles were. Yann proved once again that the best way to win is to take the initiative as soon as possible.
As the race had just begun, and the main teams were still finding their feet along the long straight lines of the Park’s Alleys, the skater of Nantes didn’t hesitate to set off on a solitary break. He took advantage of a lap of concentration on the part of the pack, probably still inhibited by the heat of the afternoon, to speed up as soon as the third lap (on 19). What pushed him to put himself at risk this way? Before the race, he knew very well that his main opponent would be Bart Swings (Cado Motus). The Belgian himself had tested the pack after only two laps, just to stretch his legs and see who would react to it... In a circuit where you easily get trapped – which Swings and Guyader already experimented at their own expanses in 2010 – it is safer to take the initiative!
A royal break in the Elites’
However, Yann Guyader managed to sow doubts in his opponents’ minds for a good while. It was only 10 minutes after the race had started, and the current leader of the WIC had set off on an individual race against the clock, with a pack taking a long time to react on his heels. What was the best thing to do? Keeping Guyader within firing range and letting him die a slow death? This was certainly not the good solution. He would have been able to hold out on his opponents, and make the most of the disagreements which irrevocably happen.
Yann hadn’t yet completed one lap alone that he was already caught up from behind. The first to grab hold of Guyader’s wagon was none other than Elio Cuncu (IDEEprint EO Skates): the Italian who lives in Berlin is an excellent speed skater, and he managed to catch up with the French thanks to his typical acceleration. But a second locomotive was following him: amongst the travelers in it, there were “professional” runaways: Nolan Beddiaf (RPM Poli), Scott Arlidge (Powerslide), Alexander Bastidas (Rollerblade Estonie) but also Nicolas Iten (Swiss Skate Team). Let’s not forget the first-class passenger: Bart Swings. Swings and Guyader leading together: it’s a royal break! It had to be taken very seriously... After only fifteen minutes, maybe the fate of the race was sealed!
Swings in numerical inferiority but in physical superiority!
All in all, they were ten in the leading pack. Let’s pay tribute to Raphaël Planelle for being canny and anticipating the action: the teenager found himself hot on the best Elites’ tails... but he had to abdicate after a couple of kilometers in the lead with the bosses. The nine remaining didn’t wait for him... on the contrary: feeling that the gap was growing between the lead and the rest of the pack, they speeded up a little more to get out of reach. They didn’t force the pace by halves: they managed the fifth lap in 2’58 (i.e. more than 44 kph!)
The main body of the pack was trapped on two counts. A priori only the Bont Team should have chased the lead as none of its representatives were in the front. But some of the candidates were trapped in the back too. It was the case of Ewen Fernandez (Powerslide, 2nd in Rennes 2010), Ferre Spruyt (Cado Motus, 2nd in Dijon 2010), Elton De Souza and Brian Lépine (RPM Poli), who couldn’t skate because their leaders or team-mates were out... Lap after lap, the situation turned more and more in favor of the runaways, who were skating at a constant speed, while the pack was skating in fits and starts. Six laps from the arrival, there was a 1min30 gap between the head and the pack. This is when the nine runaways started to think about what to do next: Bart Swings was the man to keep an eye on, but he was in numerical inferiority (i.e. all alone). He had to face two highly respected Powerslide team-mates (Yann Guyader and Scott Arlidge), skaters of the Swiss Skate Team (Nicolas Iten and Michael Achermann), the Cuncu Brothers, Elio and Giacomo (IDEEprint EO Skates) and two “loners”, Nolan Beddiaf and José Bastidas. It was time to wear Bart Swings out! Warning: maybe the Belgian was in numerical inferiority but he looked physically superior!
Guyader throws all his energy in the fight.
To follow the race, you have to flick the part situated in-between 15 and 45 min, during which the linear breaking efforts didn’t prove to be very fascinating. The marathon became lively again in the 15 last minutes, when the athletes got back to the “attack” mode. Firstly, Swings had to take the warning shots of Yann Guyader, Scott Arlidge, Michael Achermann and Nicolas Iten. Both teams, being in numerical superiority, logically tried to get out and force a cleaner arrival. Each time, the Belgian was hot on the wheels of the attackers.
After two laps of heated exchanges Swings decided to attack from the front by himself. A daring tactic, as he ran the risk of taking a ravaging counter-attack and surrendering irremediably. But he didn’t really have the choice: in a race, you’d rather anticipate and force the opponent to react rather than being subjected. Indeed, Bart Swings even managed to make the others doubt and start to believe that he was invincible. Yan Guyader was the only one who could take up the challenge. During the sixteenth lap, in the down-part of the circuit, he made the most of a lap of concentration to attack from the inside of the roundabout. In front of the war memorial the skater of Nantes showed that he was kicking and alive! There were still 10 min left and, for the second time, Guyader threw all his energy in the fight.
2 –vs– 1 for Bart Swings
Guess who was the only one who could react? Powerful, Bart Swings catches up with Guyader almost in the same breath. The duo literally exploded their fellow runaways: the last ones holding out (Bastidas, Alridge et Iten) would never manage to fill the 10 meter gap inflicted by Swings and Guyader... Even stronger: the seven left behind were not far from being rejoined by the pack! In three laps they lost 1’25 on the World Champions duo! It must be said that, on the front, they never slowed down their pace. In the last lap, Yann Guyader was leading, maintaining a constant speed in order to set off his sprint. But just like in Rennes, Bart Swings moves out 400m before the finish line, at the end of the turn. Guyader powerfully comes back in the wake of the Belgian, but without really managing to be at shoulder height. 2 Vs. 1 for Swings, thus, who gets hold of Nantes and Dijon while Guyader had seized Berlin at the beginning of the season. The French will have the occasion of getting over it: he is still the leader of the World Cup and he even gets a bigger advance at the provisory ranking. If he continues this way, he may win the title for the third time in his career.
A second consolation for Yann Guyader: his team-mate Scott Arlidge seized the bronze medal in front of Nicolas Iten. As for the pack, it was shaken by the speeding up of Ewen Fernandez in the last kilometer: the skater of Nantes wasn’t far from winning his bet of getting the tenth place at the ranking. However he was passed on the finish line by the New-Zealander Peter Michael (X-Tech MPC) who ends up only a couple of tenths ahead... The final time of this 11th edition of Dijon’s Skating Marathon makes you wonder: the first arrived managed the 42km in 1h01’18, and the pack was 2’20 behind. Thirty skaters were thus above 40kph! It is true that the circuit is ideal to manage such times and that the weather helped too, but it is still impressive.
Begg races solo in the Women’s
In the Women’s, there was less suspense as for the victory. Nicole Begg (X-Tech MPC) broke solo eight laps before the end. The New-Zealander, deprived of her best “enemy”, Cecilia Baena (back to Columbia for the national selections), attempted a winning poker trick. Although in the back Laetitia Le Bihan (RPM Poli) and Mélissa Chouleysko (IDEEprint EO Skates) tried to fill the gap, it wasn’t enough: Begg, full of energy, had the work done in 1h17.
Behind, the “Halbout connexion” stroke again. Justine, a very fast skater in uphill false-flat arrivals such as Dijon’s, was a notch above the others and almost naturally got the silver medal. Her sister Clémence was more surprising as she was just out of the pack’s sprint just behind her elder sister, beating Ysia Clausses on the finish line. As for Mélissa Chouleysko, she consolidates her world ranking thanks to her seventh place: the skater of Orleans is currently second at the provisory WIC ranking, behind Nicole Begg. And she should manage to keep it even if there are still 4 rounds left.
Two Master World Champions!
The Women paved the way for the French on Sunday morning. During the marathons of the Master Competitions, Claire Boado of Strasbourg wins solo the title, and thus the lead, in front of another French, Christiane Buquant of Brétigny. The student did as well as the master. The master is Claudie Duval, the standart-bearer of the CBS and coach of Christiane Buquant, and she is a safe bet in the French Team. She gets the silver medal with credits in the U60 category, after a sprint against three opponents.
In the Men’s category, Jacques Houssais can be proud of his third place in O60. The skater of Nantes is specialized in long sprints, and he perfectly took advantage of the circuit’s set-up. He gets the bronze medal behind a German and an Italian in a marathon which lasted 1h20. The Parisian, Guy Caillère, isn’t far behind as he ends up fifth. A few regrets on the other hand in the U60 category: Jean-François Lenôtre ends up at the foot of the podium, at the fourth place. He managed a good race but he met a strong opponent by the end... Custodio ‘Gus’ Alves E Silva and Henri Luton end up in the tail of the pack, getting the 13th and 15th places.
We could hear the rooster crow in the Men’s U40 category. Indeed the French managed a hat trick: Jean-Stéphane Sierra keeps the golden title which he had conquered last year in Italy, Cyril Carcano wins one place in the hierarchy ending up second, and Cédric Faron takes the third place. The U40 completed the 42km circuit in 1h08, i.e. a time rivaling with the Juniors’ and with some Seniors’! Their legs are still in good shape; in fact in such good shape that ten French could have aspired to the podium. A special mention to one of them: Thomas Dauvergne ends up thirteenth, but he could have become World Champion. It could have made a nice picture indeed! The organizer of Dijon’s Marathon had managed to escape and could have completed the race solo. But he got caught up just before the finish line. Quoting his words: “I played my card, I was 200m short but it helped my team-mates for the podium”. There’s no doubt about it, such a team spirit is part of the prerogative of Speed Skating.
- Seniors’ International Marathon
- U40 U50 Master World Championship
- U60 O60 Master World Championship
- Half Marathon
Written by Vincent Esnault
Translated by Close Yr E’s
Photos: Vincent Buin