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Live Blog: Marathon Roller Montreal, 2011

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July 16, 2011

Planet report

Wrap up

Olympic gold medalist Olivier Jean proved today that he’s not just good in cold weather. He won today’s Marathon Roller Montreal in hot balmy weather, the reverse of the frigid conditions — with snow and sleet — he faced when he won last year’s marathon.

Jean, 27, of Montreal, said his short-track ice training prepared him for today’s race. “In short track, you have all kinds of ice conditions, so you have to be able to skate in all conditions,” said Jean, who won a gold medal in the 5000 meter relay at the 2010 Winter Games.

For the past four years, Jean has concentrated most of his effort on short track ice. But he said he still makes inline skating a regular part of his early season training program.

“I skated a lot in April and May on inline,” he said. But he switched to ice in June to get ready for the upcoming short track World Cup season.

Jean said he felt a little unsure of himself at the start of today’s marathon. “So I waited in the pack, drafting.”

But he said that with three laps to go, he was feeling strong and started moving to the front. He joined a couple of the breakaways and finally, during the last lap, took off on his own.

He took a lead of several seconds ahead of Marc Belanger and his Il Peloton teammate Sergio Almeralla and rolled across the finish line five seconds ahead of Belanger. Almeralla finished third.

Toronto Inline's Peter Doucet won the field sprint to finish fourth. But in fact, until just before the finish line, he was under the assumption, along with everyone else in the pack, that there was one more lap to go.

On Lap 7 or 8, skaters were misinfored about how many laps remained, Doucet said. In addition, they were confused by GPS readings that showed they hadn't skated as far as expected, based on the erroneous official lap length of 3.2 km. In fact, each lap was 3.0 km.

Doucet was one of a group of five or six skaters taking turns at the front of the chase pack as it tried to catch the three leaders in the breakaway at the end of the rae.

"My plan was to bridge up with the chase pack, which is what we were doing," says Doucet, 33, of Mississauga.

Doucet took off on his own when no one else in the pack would take a pull against the wind. He thought he still had one and a half laps to go.

But as he approached the start-finish line, he saw the checkered flag signaling the finish, and "I thought, so there was a mistake in the lap counting."

He started sprinting as did several other of the skaters in the front of the pack. But most of the skaters, unaware the race was ending, never lifted their arms off their backs.

Doucet says he doubts he would have improved his placement with another lap. "If I had been able to bridge up, would I have been able to beat them? I don't know. But I certainly had gas left in the tank."

The mistake in lap counting may have effected the outcome for other skaters, including Doucet's teammate Morgane Echardour.

Echardour, 22, of Mississauga, finished second, tucked into the pack, not far behind Vitesse's Martine Charbonneau, winner of the women's race.

Echardour didn't bother sprinting. "Morgane had no idea it was the finish of the race," Doucet says.

Half Marathon

(We can't reach any of the other skaters right now because a few minutes after the marathon, many them, including Olivier Jean and the women's winner, Martine Charbonneau, lined up for the half marathon, which is underway.)

Olivier Jean won the half marathon. Alex Fedak was second.

The two broke away from the pack on the last lap.

Third place went to either Juan Diego Zuluaga and Sergio Almeralla.


Start of the marathon

Pack during an early lap

Finish for top three

Field sprint

10:39 am | Oops

Turns out the loop was 3 km, not 3.2 km, as advertised. As a result, some skaters skated an extra lap, based on the readings of their GPS units.

This was not a problem for skaters in the lead pack, all of whom correctly skated 13 laps, said organizer Philippe Candelier.

The short lap distance accounts for the speedy time of the race: 1 hour and 4 minutes. The race was 38.5 km, not the standard marathon distance of 42 km.

10:17 am | Olivier Jean, Martine Charbonneau win

Olympic gold medalist Olivier Jean, skating for Il Peloton, wins the race in a time of 1 hour, 4 minutes and 2 seconds. He finishes five seconds ahead of Marc Belanger of Montreal. Il Peloton's Sergio Almeralla is third.

Toronto Inline's Peter Doucet wins the field sprint for fourth place. Simmons Racing's Alex Fedak is fifth, followed by the remarkable 13 year old from Colombia, Juan Diego Zuluaga.

Vitesse's Martine Charbonneau wins the women's race, finishing 23rd overall. Toronto's Morgane Echardour is second. (Note: Vitesse is short for Club Patinage Vitesse Roller Montreal.)

10:10 | Two to go

Marc Belanger of Montreal finishes the 11th lap seven seconds ahead of Il Peloton's Sergio Almeralla and Olivier Jean.

The pack is 20 seconds back.

10:05 am | Three to go

At or near the front of the big pack are Jesse Pauley, Steve Robillard, Stephane Trembley, Alex Fedak and Peter Doucet.

Martine Charbonneau is in 11th place while Morgane Echardour falls back to 24th in the big lead pack.

10 am | Ninth lap

Il Peloton's Sergio Almeralla breaks away during the ninth lap, taking a five second lead. But the pack catches him before the end of the lap.

Now it's Simmons Racing Alex Fedak, one of the few U.S. racers, leading the pack. Just behind him is Steve Robillard. Then Simon Clement, Sergio Almeralla and Peter Doucet.

Martine Charbonneau is in 11th place, leading the women's race. Morgane Echardour is in 12th, right behind her.

9:53 am | After eight laps

The breakaways have been caught. Schankel Kallisto's Georg Nikodym now skates at the head of the lead pack of 28 skaters. Next is Scott Pauley, Herb Gayle and Morgane Echardour.

Doucet is back in 26th place.

9:50 am | After seven laps

Toronto Inline's Peter Doucet and Il Peloton's Sergio Almeralla have broken away and have a small lead of three seconds.

9:42 am | After five laps

Toronto Inline's Peter Doucet has been joined at the front by Il Peloton's Steve Robillard and Marc Belanger. As they cross the start-finish line with seven laps to go, Robillard is leading.

Ten seconds back is a chase pack, including Jesse and Jade Pauley. The pack follows another three seconds back.

9:29 am | Second and third laps

Lots of changing leads. Vitesse's Simon Clement leads the pack at the end of two laps. But at the end of the third lap, it's Peter Doucet, skating a few yards ahead of the lead pack. On the way back, Clement retakes the lead.

But then, near the end of the third lap, with the pace slowing, Doucet goes on a solo breakaway and finishes the lap 10 seconds ahead of the pack.

Clement leads the pack across the finish line with teammate Martine Charbonneau just behind him.

9:15 am | First lap: A big pack of 30 to 50 skaters forms after the start on the cement straightaway. About a half a mile later, the skaters make a 180-degree turn and head back, then they continue on to the looping turn at the other end of the course before coming back to the starting line to finish their first lap. The lap is 3.2 kilometers.

Short track skater Steve Robillard, skating for Il Peloton, leads the pack as it finishes the first lap. Toronto Inline's Peter Doucet is in second position.

8:46 am | Scene: It's a beautiful day at the PMG test track in Blainville. "The sun is shining. There's no wind. But it's going to be very hot," says organizer Philippe Candelier.

The temperature is about 25 C (77 F) with 15 minutes to go before the start of the race.

About 45 skaters have registered to race this morning, bringing the total number of participants to 150, Candelier said.

Skaters are approving of the new racecourse. "They say it is very smooth."

Here's the Planet preview of the Marathon Roller Montreal.

What happened last year? ... Here's last year's live blog of of the Marathon Roller Montreal.

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