Racing News > 2006 Basel World Inline Cup

Athleticum Rollerblade Pulls Upset in Basel
New format provides an opening for an underdog
Robert "Just the Factoids" Burnson

Underdog Athleticum Rollerblade upset the favorites in today's Basel World Inline Cup with a dominating performance that gave drama to the race series' first-ever team time trial.

The win propels the unheralded team into at least third, and possibly second, place in the World Cup. Behind it, for the first time, will be its big brother, the better financed Rollerblade World team, which finished second today.

Women's Race

In the women's race, the outcome was not unexpected: top-ranked Rollerblade World finished first.

"They dominated the race," said World Cup spokesman Daniel Wagner. "They posted the fastest time for every lap."

Finishing behind Rollerblade World was Athleticum Rollerblade and Salomon Smartskates.

Favorite Falters

The favorite in the men's race was MMCmicro Salomon, which after the first two World Cup stages (Seoul and Paris) has already taken a commanding lead in the rankings.

Salomon was given a choice starting position: sixth. By the time it started, five other teams had already been set loose on the 5-kilometer road course. (Starts were staggered by one minute each.)

Race organizers started the strongest teams in the middle of the field, in hopes this would lead to lots of passing, which would make the event more exciting for spectators.

But Salomon was never able to pass — or even keep pace with — Athleticum Rollerblade, which started in the third position. Athleticum began the race with a blazing pace and by the end of the second of five laps was clearly in the lead.

It finished with a time of 38 minutes and 45.84 seconds. Its average speed was 38.69 kilometers per hour (24.04 mph).

Rollerblade World finished in second place, 20 seconds slower than Athleticum. Salomon finished third, another 21 seconds back.

Time Trial Strategy

Today's race marked the first time the World Cup has tried the team time trial format. All previous events have been marathons with mass starts.

Teams appeared to have given plenty of thought to strategy before the race. Most enlisted one or two members to serve as sacrificial workhorses. These skaters lead their packs, doing lots of hard pulling in the early laps, and then dropped out (or at least back) when they were exhausted.

Their early departures from the race didn't effect the rankings of their teams because standings were based on the finish time for the third place finishers for men and second place for women, whose teams were smaller. (Women's teams had four skaters; men's five.)

The main workhorse for the men's Athleticum team was Raphael Pfulg. The 20-year-old Swiss skater lead his teammates for the first two laps, pulling them into first place, before he dropped back.

He finished eight minutes behind his team. As a result, he will earn no points for the event. Under the complicated (and still subject to change) scoring system for the race, teammates split points evenly unless they finished well behind their paceline.

Skaters were not allowed to draft with other teams, so once skaters fell behind their pack, they were likely to drift further and further back.

The workhorse for Salomon was Pier Davide Romani, who dropped back after two laps, same as Pfulg; the workhorse for Powerslide was Kalon Dobbin, who dropped out after three laps.

By the end of the race, the Athleticum paceline, which started with five skaters, was down to three: Alain Gloor, Roger Schneider, both of Switzerland, and Scott Arlidge of New Zealand.

Points Bonanza

Each will earn 126-129 points for the race, Wagner said. A win in a standard World Cup marathon is good for 125 points.

Today's points bonanza is likely to push Gloor and Arlidge into the top five and Schneider into the top ten in the individual rankings.

The Athleticum squad set its sights on the Basel race shortly after the Seoul Inline Cup three weeks ago.

The team had done surprising well in Seoul, placing two skaters in the top ten, and hoped to do well in the team time trial, in which endurance would be more of a factor.

"Those three guys did an incredible job," Wagner said.

Related reading

• Go to Basel results.

• Go to Planet story: World Cup tried a new format.

• Go to Planet story: Barbotin, Finster Win Val d'Europe.

• Go to story: Smith, Presti Win Seoul World Cup.

• Go to Event news.

• Go to more Racing News.

Go to the Beginner's Guide to Outdoor Racing.

(posted April 29, 2006)

Related reading

• Go to Basel results.

• Go to Planet story: World Cup tries a new format.

• Go to Planet story: Barbotin, Finster Win Val d'Europe.

• Go to story: Smith, Presti Win Seoul World Cup.

• Go to Event news.

• Go to more Racing News.

Go to the Beginner's Guide to Outdoor Racing.


Copyright © 2006 by Robert Burnson

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