April 9/01 2:33 am - Trinidad Project Report
Posted by Editoress on 04/9/01
Night 3 (April 8, 2001) West Indies vs. the World Cycling Series
Port of Spain, Trinidad
Courtesy Kurt Innes
Another hot evening of racing started out with an international race, all 3 of the Canadians started off with specific experiences they were looking to gain. Either pack positioning, or finishing strong with a lead out from the always-strong T& T team train.
4 Lap: Jim and Steen started the event strong, with Jim in the top 5 for the first 3 laps, but as last night as soon as the bell would ring and the real positioning for the sprint began Jim found himself (along with Steen) at the back of the pack. Steen reacted well to the bell, moving up several places from his position at the back of the pack, finishing approx 8th. Jim and Lars were well back at the finish.
Cat 1 - 4 Lap: As the race started 2 riders from T&T sprinted from the front, leaving Keith to chase from the end of lap 1 for the next lap and a half. As the pack came together the normal lead out train formed (T&T riders). Tyler and Alex were unable to react to the lead out, and had to struggle to set up positions for the sprint on their own throughout the duration of the last lap. Tyler finished 5 or 6th, with Alex further back, along with Keith.
International Elimination:Steen bowed out first lap (saving up for the sprints), Jim was 2nd eliminated, along with Lars 3rd eliminated. Neither Jim nor Lars showed any of the necessary attention needed in this type of event. Both lacked the awareness of the other athletes to realize where they were positioned, and subsequently ended up at the back of the race without knowing it until the last minute. Sprint * finals: Steen raced against Azi Kellar (T&T).
1st ride Steen lead out the sprint after a very slow first lap by Kellar. Entering the final corner (200 M to go) with Steen on the front, Kellar jumped on the right side. Steen reacted very quickly and matched his speed. Steen gained control of the race, and looked over his right shoulder to check the position of his opponent. This look caused Steen to over steer to the left, and off the track. As Steen regained his line on the track (after a bit of time in the grass), he swerved a bit to the right (definitely not impeding the other rider, as he had already given up). The official deemed this move too violent, and disqualified Steen. After watching the video of "the infraction" it was obvious that Steen simply made an error, corrected his error by regaining his line on the track, and didn't mean any harm by his action. The judges were very unwilling to see the big picture, and kept their decision as final. A costly error by Steen that may have cost him an eventual place in the final.
After a brief 5-minute break between sprints, the 2nd ride started. 2nd ride Steen lead the event, and with a carbon copy of the first ride Steen waited until the T&T rider jumped on his right before starting his sprint as they entered the final corner. This 2nd ride Steen was unable to match the T&T riders' speed, and Kellar gained the lead. Steen dropped back, and tried to come around at the finish, but was unable to pull any closer than the lead riders front hub at the finish. Suffering from muscle cramps, and suspected dehydration Steen withdrew from the bronze medal rides immediately after the 2nd ride of the semi finals.
Cat 1 win and out: This short event was a positive race for our Canadian crew. Tyler was able to shoot thru on the inside for the first lap bell. As he chased a T&T rider for a lead out, he was able to gain the front as the pack entered the last 200 Meters. Alex was immediately following Tyler. In this "win and out" event the winner of the 1st lap actually wins the event, 2nd lap winner gets 2nd, and 3rd lap winner receives 3rd place. As Tyler and Alex entered the final 200 meters it was clear that they were shooting for the win as their goal. Tyler was able to hold off Alex, and score his 2nd win of the weekend. Alex was spent after this long initial sprint and wasn't able to continue for any additional sprints. Keith never made it to the front in this short race, and sprinted for 6th during the last and final 3rd sprint. International
Cat 1- 15 lap: The longer events of the night are a different style of races from the shorter sprint events that begin each night's program. With the endurance riders from the local region being very strong road riders, the pace is usually very quick. Tonight was no different than the prior 2 evenings. All 3 Canadians were active in the race, with Tyler making his way to the front of the pack for the final lap. As the bell rang, the pack swarmed the front leaving Tyler well back entering turn 1. In the space of 20 Meters Tyler had gone from 1st back to 8th or 10th, this point showing the importance of being constantly aware of your position and the other riders in the field. Neither Canadian was able to make up any ground in the final sprint and all ended up well back in the final sprint.
International 30 lap: Same comments as above relating to the pace of the event. Lars used the event to add some intensity laps, and pack skill work to his inventory lasting almost 20 laps of the very speedy event. Jim was very active in the event, learning how to move around amongst the very intense action. With many riders taking flyers off the front, in pairs of two or smaller groups of 3 and 4, the pace was always very fast. Entering the final 2 laps a pair of riders escaped off the front, the rest of the pack (20 riders) was left for the sprint for 3rd. Jim ended up 6th in the final sprint.
Overall the racing this weekend was positive for our Canadian crew. Although there were only a few top 4 placings, most coming from Tyler and Alex in the Category 1 field, the entire team proved they are fit and ready for the racing. With this being the first international exposure for the whole group, along with a totally foreign track (racing environment) they were expected to make mistakes and adapt to those mistakes accordingly. Although a couple of the mistakes were costly (Steen riding off the track and destroying his race wheels, and also riding into the grass and losing out on a potential big pay day in the sprints), many of the mistakes were simply made because of lack of exposure to this level of racing. Keeping in mind the level of racing at our own nationals has been increasing year by year; it is definitely not this competitive. Our sprint team here in Trinidad is able to access this high caliber racing night after night, and even better they are challenged 3 and 4 times each night. Mistakes are happening, but the nature of this project is to learn and develop the athletes in a very intensive and dynamic environment. I feel very positive that this team is on the right track, and will rebound next weekend and improve drastically on their placings.
Today we are heading to the beach... surely to return sun burned and quite fatigued. This will be a tough assignment for the team, and I am sure they will take great pride in knowing that all of you at home are rooting for them ! Once again, we will try our best to ensure Canadian pride is seen on the world's scene. Our white and pasty bodies will be a sight for sore eyes amongst the masses today !!