It might sound strange, but thanks to SARS the 2003 World Track Championships did not take place in China but were held in Stuttgart, Germany. So we had the chance to do a quite cheap 2 hour trip rather than to take an intercontinental flight in order to have two great days at “the Worlds” reporting for PezCyclingNews.
Jumping on the train at 6.30am already meant arriving in Stuttgart not too late: Another sunny day with up to 30°C. As the hotel would not let us check-in before 2pm, we decided to go to the Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle and to get our press credentials. The staff there was extremely friendly, such as most people down there in the south of Germany, and thanks to the credentials arranged by PEZ, no problems with our accreditation occurred. Equipped with several magazines and information material and the really stylish accreditation cards hanging around our necks, we were ready for entering the hall.
Under the dome with Florian & Rene.
Being road cyclists on our own, we’re enthusiastic about all kinds of cycling, but we did not have that much personal track experience. So we decided to have a first look around walking through the boxes.
It was an extraordinary feeling being so close to the big ones in that business, to the most experienced and to the world’s top! Having been 5 minutes in the riders’ area, we had already seen some the world’s best sprinters, Jens Fiedler (GER), Jan van Eijden (GER) and Laurent Ganй (FRA) warming up on their rollers for the sprint qualifying.
Even Michael Hьbner (GER), who dominated the sprinter scene in the early 90s, was there talking to members of the different teams and watching their preparation.
Just few corners away, famous Dutch “wielrenster” Leontien Zijlaard-van Moorsel (NED) was preparing for the first round of the women’s individual pursuit. She was found in the Dutch box together with some of the young and Dutch sprinters, Yvonne Hijgenaar and Theo Bos, waiting for the start of their heats.
For watching the flying 200 meters of sprint qualification, we decided to choose seats close to the 200 m line so we could see the athletes “flying” by in the 3rd round, when the time for the last 200 meters was taken and when everyone had to show his cards. Only few spectators had found the way to the track at this hour, so we we found some free seats in the very first row – absolutely fascinated by the airflow caused by the riders who reached speeds up to 70 km/h just a few centimeters away from us!
In the afternoon and evening, the women’s individual pursuit finals and the men’s points race were the programme’s absolute highlights. Having not too much trouble, Leontien Zijlaard-van Moorsel reached the final, ready to defend her title. This event is a fascinating and exciting trial of strength, with one rider racing against the other, starting at two opponent sites of the track. Having a slow start and letting her rival from New Zealand laying in front for about 2000 of the 3000 meters, the strong but very attractive Dutch lady pushed herself on the last kilometer to the limit and grabbed for the gold medal – again!
Now the men’s points race was going on: A mass start with every athlete riding for himself with intermediate sprints over 40 km. We expected the Swiss rider Franco Marvulli to attack, but he decided to start slowly after having reached a gold medal in the men’s scratch competition two days before. In addition to this, he had a flat tyre, going to change his hand-made Walser bike within some seconds and heading back into the bunch. Due to his aggressive and clever riding, Franz Stocher (AUT) finished with the most points after 140 laps and could so beat the strong Spanish rider Juan Llaneras. A group of maybe 50 Austrian fans was cheering for minutes so that Franz Stocher decided to climb up the track celebrating with them for quite a time – what a sensation!
Tune in Monday for Part 2 and the Gold Medal action!
You can find Florian and Rene online at:
Florian Wenk www.florianwenk.com
and Renй Mueller www.rmffm.de