-Start of the public race with a total of 5,000 participants
The KIA Verducci Team traveled to Zug for the 7th stage of the Swiss Inline Cup. Zug is yet another city on the outskirts of the Swiss Alps and is built on the shoreline of the Zugersee Lake.
The Zug SIC is famous for its big rolling hills, making it one of the toughest courses not only on the SIC circuit but on the entire WIC schedule as well - not good news for the team when they are yet again faced with another double-header marathon over the weekend. With another bad week of weather in Europe it was looking like we would have wet weather for the weekend. However, race day greeted by blue skies and hot weather... until 6 pm when the skies went black, the winds picked up, and the race went from ideal conditions to very, very bad conditions.
- The Course
The race was again held around a massive lake, but unlike the 21 km Einsiedeln course this was a 40 km race. So with an extra 19 km to play with the racers strayed away from the flat lake and into the hills. The first 2 km provided no break zone due to the narrow roads and tight switch-back corners. Next came the good side of the lake, with its some rolling hills but slightly descending wide and smooth roads that enabled racers to carry enough speed for this part of the course to be somewhat forgiving. But going down and away from the finish can only mean that one must climb back up, and the second 20 km is just that - a climb. Then there were some more rolling hills before a 2 km incline that flattens out and then ascends again. This was followed by some more rolling hills, a tight right hander, a slight down hill descent with a small tunnel and islands everywhere, and finally a slight incline with a 200 m straightaway that again goes slightly uphill.
- Women’s Race
The Kia/Verducci Team was again at less than full strength, with Jessica and Chae Yi still preparing for the Worlds in Italy. But Theresa was happy to welcome back Nathalie, who was fresh off winning her National Championships in Valence d’Agen, France.
With Theresa leading both the Swiss Cup and the World Cup overall rankings, and Nathalie in 3rd for both, it will come down to these final races to see if Kia/Verducci can not only win the overall WIC title again, but do what has never been done before - winning both the Swiss and World Cups at the same time.
The rain and wind came 10 km into the race, making the already fast course even fast and slicker. The wind blew grass and leaves across the road and at times nearly knocked the skaters off course. The pace was picking up speed with most teams taking turns pulling leads, making it hard for one of the wet weather specialists to break away from the pack.
Athleticum Rollerblade’s Nadine Gloor and team mates, along with the whole Fila/Mentos team, thought that they might have a chance for a breakaway on one of the inclines, but the pace was too fast and they were caught within minutes. Over the last 20 km, the pace again increased, and normally where the teams would attack they were now going to the front of the pack and pushing the pace, thereby leaving skaters behind on each of the inclines.
Kia/Verducci helped to maintain the fast pace of the race, letting the pack know that the course may be too fast for most, but not for them! Over the last 5 km it was again a fight for positioning, with the officials on the motorbikes having to warn skaters from excessive contact.
Nathalie patiently moved in front of Theresa and waited to do her part for the finish. Caroline Lagree of Saab/Salomon come up from the back with team mate and team leader Pia Knecht in tow to start the sprint, but it was to early and Rollerblade’s Angele Vaudan took a lead over the current 2nd ranked Laura Lardani.
Nathalie and Theresa moved into 3rd and 4th, respectively, but when Nathalie pulled out to get Theresa in position for the sprint, she caught her skates and nearly crashed, thus losing speed. Lardani of Rollerblade, seeing a golden opportunity, launched into her sprint with Vaudan leaving a gap. Seeing what was happening, Theresa moved passed and chased down Lardani in the final 100 m, easily crossing the finish line first for her 5th Swiss Cup win this season. Nathalie, despite getting grabbed in the sprint, still managed a 4th place finish.
- Women’s Final Results
1st - Theresa Cliff-Ryan, Kia/Verducci, USA
2nd - Laura Lardani, Rollerblade World, ITA
3rd - Cinzia Ponzetti, Fila/Mentos, SUI
4th - Nathalie Barbotin, Kia/Verducci, FRA