Race Preview: Swiss Inline Cup Vallee de Joux
All Top World Cup Skaters Are Expected With Rankings on the Line
Last week's World Inline Cup in Engadin, Switzerland, got a little rough.
At the finish, as the road narrowed to one lane, more than a few racers, apparently a little edgy after skating 42 kilometers in the rain, started pushing and shoving.
Bont coach Bill Begg described a few of the skaters as "breast-stroking" their way to the finish line.
The result: three racers were disqualified and another five, including the top ranked men (Fila's Max Presti and Rollerblade's Jorge Botero), received written warnings.
Tomorrow, the skaters will be hoping for dry weather and a clean finish as they head into the 13th stage of the World Inline Cup: the inaugural Vallee de Joux in western Switzerland.
The racers will circle Lac (Lake) de Joux twice to complete a distance of 46 kilometers.
The race is a subclass event, meaning it is only worth 40 percent of the points of a top-class race.
As a result, it is not likely to alter the team standings much. Rollerblade leads both the men's and women's rankings by considerable margins: 260 for the men's and 449 for the women's.
But enough points are up for grabs (40 for the winners) that the event could significantly alter the individual rankings.
Presti's position as the top dog of the men's pack is secure. He's 63 points ahead of Botero, so he could only drop into second place tomorrow if he picks up a big penalty. (Last week's penalty cost him 20 points; disqualifications cost 100.)
But the race could easily scramble the order for the next four men in the standings: Botero, Luca Saggiorato (Fila), Alexis Contin (Rollerblade) and Shane Dobbin (Rollerblade).
They are all within 31 points of each other -- and all skating very well.
Among the women, Rollerblade's Laura Lardani, much like Presti, owns a solid lead.
But her teammate, Angele Vaudan, who is in second place, had better be looking over her shoulder. The 18-year-old New Zealand skater Nicole Begg is only 15 points back and shows no signs of slowing down.
Copyright © 2006 by Robert Burnson