2nd day on the road: incredible downpours of rain in San Benedetto del Tronto
When it rains, Colombia winces and France gloats!
Junior ladies : first and last Colombian title of the day
When the Junior ladies started their race, the ground was very wet, but the rain had stopped. They were 38 girls on the starting line, quite freezing because the temperatures had significantly dropped down in comparison with the day before. Ladies started quite prudently, although, from the outside, it is always impressive to see skaters go as fast on a wet surface. The race was tough but the teams seemed to manage to be rather well-organized since at midrace, most of the best skaters were placed side by side with their teammates. The pack shrunk, lap by lap, without much suspense until heavy rains added a touch of spice a few laps before the end. The rain did not make all skaters happy. It was notably the case for Darian O’Neil (USA) who had been in front of the pack in most of the previous races in the championship, quite always in the final sprint. But that time, the American was eliminated 8 laps from the arrival, just before Annemarie Boer (Netherlands) and Yo Hsuan Liu (China Taipei) who was the last eliminated skater. In the final sprints, only Colombians skaters were two. The Italian Sofia d’Annibale as the Korean So-Yeong Lee and the French Déborah Marchand, could not find any support from any teammates in the final. Colombians took advantage of this situation and Fabriana Arias crossed the line in first position in 35min22sec, grabbing its third gold medal of the championship (after winning the 10K-points-eliminations-race on the track and the 10K-points-race on the road the day before). What a performance! Behind her, Sofia d’Annibale took the silver medal and Korean So Yeong Lee the bronze. Colombian skater Nathalia Giraldo (4th) and French skater Deborah Marchand (5th) were left outside the podium.
Junior men: South American duel between Chile and Colombia!
It last long before the Junior men could finally start their race. There were such torrential rains that there were a few moments of hesitation concerning the next races of the evening. While the Juniors were skating, warming up on the road thinking they would be called by the judges within a few minutes, they were finally sent back to their boxes for ten minutes, completely soaking wet! They finally could join the starting line, probably frozen, but always eager to do their best to try to get a medal. It did not take long for the skaters to reach a quite impressive pace under those severe rains. The passage of the 51 skaters in the last corner of the road was so amazing. Although the road was almost drowned, the skaters were focused on their race. The rare spectators left around the circuit could see water spouts in every corner. The pack slowly reduces, lap by lap. French skaters quite often led the pack until both were eliminated ranking 14th (Aurélien Roumagnac) and 17th (Tomy Lépine). Other nations such as the USA, Mexico, Colombia, Denmark or South Korea, then led the pack, one after the other. In the last lap, they were actually four to be able to grab the gold: Philipp Forstner (Germany), Sang Cheol Lee (South Korea), Boris Pena (Colombia) and Hugo Ramirez (Chile). When the bell rang, Colombia was in the front, closely followed by Chile and South Korea. The German went for broke and took the attacking option, however bothered the Chilean which allowed the South Korean to take advantage of the situation, placing in second position. In the finishing straight line, Colombian skater was still in the front, but Hugo Ramirez took the inside of the road whereas Sang Cheol Lee took the outside. All three of them went “dying” on the finishing line. What a sprint! Nobody could tell the order of arrival of the skaters. It was so tied. After watching the photo finish, the Chilean was declared to be the winner of the race in a time of 31’27’’60. Boris Pena grabbed the silver in 31’27’61 and the South Korean took the bronze in 31’27’’62. German skater finished fourth. Thanks to Hugo Ramirez, Chile grabbed its first title of the championship.
For the anecdote, it must be noted that it rained so much that the organization was bound to take off the white tape of the starting/arrival line out of the road, in order to replace it! This manipulation was done between the Junior and the Senior races.
Senior ladies: Strong Francesca Lollobrigida performs tremendously again!
It was still raining when the 33 ladies took off for their 10K-points-race. Italy was the first one to grab points. But Manon Kamminga (Netherlands) did not hesitate to attack in the second lap and managed to escape from the pack for a few laps. Argentina decided to chase the Dutch while spactators could see some of the skaters do some aquaplaning in the puddles. Manon Kamminga was caught up and it was time for South Korea and China Taipei to escape from the pack. They were soon caught up and girls, such as Guo Dan (China), Melisa Bonnet (Argentina) or the Germans (Mareike Thum and Sabine Berg) fought a lot to grab points. Francesca Lollobrigida was not the less active in the race since she was elbowing with those girls, trying to grab as many points as possible to win another gold medal. But Ho Chen Yang (China Taipei) was also very strong, and managed to score many points in a raw. Who from those two girls, the Italian and the Taiwanese, was going to win? There were seven laps to go when the Germans led the pack. France, with Nathalie Barbotin, tried to grab points several laps in a raw, unsuccessfully. In the very last laps, there were several pelotons, one after the others. It was still raining, the race was tough. Besides, only nine skaters in total were able to grab points with the rain, which differed a lot from the Junior-points-races of the night before where about 16 or 17 skaters had been able to score points. Anyway, while Ho Chen Yang may have thought that she had enough points to bring the first gold medal of the competition to China Taipei, that was without counting on Lollobrigida’s motivation and strength who found enough energy to get the last points of the race, also winning the final sprint in 19’16’’129, and therefore scoring one more point than Ho Chen Yang. The Italian took her second gold medal of the championship with 21 points, while Ho Chen Yang finished second with 20 points. Manon Kamminga, thanks to her escape at the beginning of the race, grabbed the bronze with 12 points. Chinese Guo Dan was very disappointed to miss the bronze and to finish fourth for the second time of the competition.
Senior men: the Frenchman did not let any chances to anybody else, all favorites were left behind!
Masks and scubas may have helped the 53 skaters on that race considering the quantity of rains falling on the road. But French skater, Ewen Fernandez, did not need anything else than his talent and his incredible teammate Alexis Contin, to perform. Fernandez actually decided to escape very early in the race. While Alexis Contin was at the front of the pack controlling its pace, Ewen was about 20 meters ahead, collecting points, lap by lap. He took two points each lap in the three first laps. Then, Chilean Jorge Reyes decided to lead the chase. He was however the only one to catch up Fernandez which was actually perfect for the French who could rest a bit behind the Chilean while both maintained the gap to their pursuers. Fernandez let Reyes get the two points during two laps so that he could breath. But Fernandez decided that he needed some extra points to consolidate his advance. He therefore grabbed the two points in the next four laps. Nobody was really reacting behind in the pack. What happened in Bart Swing (Belgium), Fabio Francolini (Italy) or Peter Michael (New Zealand)’s minds? Francolini sure tried to catch up Fernandez, which he did, but it was already too late, and Francolini was not strong enough under the rain since he was able to stay in the front for only two laps. Suddenly, Felix Rijhnen (Germany) and Gary Heckman (Netherlands) decided to escape to score some points and try their luck. Swings joined them at the beginning, scored a couple of points but ended up being unable to follow Gary Heckman’s pace. While Heckman was scoring points, sometimes with Rijhnen, sometimes with Michael or Jorge Bolanos (Ecudor), Fernandez was resting in the pack thinking about the end of the race. At the 19th lap (out of 25), Alexis decided to try his chance. Roles were changed and Fernandez controlled the pack for a few laps. French supporters were crazy to see how things were going. Fernandez was now certain to become the 11th French skater to win an individual world title. French supporters were hoping for Contin’s feat while he was actually grabbing the last points of the race, joined at the end by his teammate Fernandez. Contin crossed the line in first position in 14’36’’219, closely followed by Fernandez who was realizing the dream he had been pursuing since he was a little boy. What a race! Fernandez won with 21 points, Contin grabbed the silver with 12 points closely followed by Heckman who got the bronze with 10 points. The other favorites, Swings, Francolini and the others, were greatly disappointed by their performance. But France was simply phenomenal on that race!
20K eliminations-race (Juniors) – 10K-points-race (Seniors)
Brief comments on long distances medals:
European Juniors seemed not to like the rain while European Seniors seemed to love it. In the Juniors, out of six possible medals, only Italy (among the European nations) manage to grab a silver medal. South Korea got two bronze medals, Colombia got one gold and one silver medals. Chile got one title. In the Seniors, it is the contrary: European skaters grabbed 5 out of 6 possible medals. France got one gold and one silver medals, the Netherlands grabbed two bronze medals, and Italy got one title. Only Chinese Taipei managed to get one silver medal.
LinksBy Léa Réguer-Petit
Photos: Daniel Busser