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2nd GP Punkt - NE
Sweden, August 15, 2003
Finnish from start to finish
By Gabriella Ekström
A cycling race out of the ordinary could be a suitable description for GP Punkt in Västerås, or as Estonian sprinter Sigvard Kuuk said, "It's amazing. I have never seen anything like it. It just goes up and up."
In an attempt to bring more action into the city centre, the organisers of GP Punkt were asked if they could locate their planned race inside the city instead of the original planned route. They were keen, but the centre of Västerås has no natural hills, and the race wouldn't be as decisive as it could be. The organisers came up with a demand, the race had to pass the nine storey parking building in the shopping mall Punkt.
Last year however, the 20 laps over the 350 meter rise proved too tough, and very few riders made it to the finish. To prevent this from happening again, a slight change was made. The indoor climb would only be contested during the last ten laps in order to keep a bigger group together for the eight bonification sprints during the first ten laps.
The attacks started straight away, and a group of seven got away early in the race. The constant rain created dangerous parts on the partly cobbled course, and it would later make the first part of the ascent slippery as the cars, motorcycles and bikes would bring water far up the hill. The front group was made up by Tobias Lergård (Team Bianchi Scandinavia), Kimmo Kaananen and Fredrik Johansson (Team Mälarenergi), Fredrik Modin (Team Fakta/Team Mälarenergi), Johan Nyman (Team Trek-Åstorps CK), Niklas Forsberg (Västerås CK) and Marko Salerno (Finnish Nat. Team). Kimmo Kaananen rode aggressively for the bonus sprints and snatched six of the eight sprints, and despite the new course, it very soon came down to a race between a handful of riders.
Despite his early efforts in the sprints, Kaananen managed to open up a gap just before the group turned up the climb for the first time. He was chased by Johan Nyman, and his brother Martin Nyman who bridged up to the chasers in time for the climb. They were marked by Johan Svensson and strong climber Modin. The second group was followed by Tobias Lergård who led Kuuk and Forsberg up the climb and behind them rode Johansson and Jan Mansner (Finnish Nat. Team).
While Lergård, Kuuk and Johansson all gained time on the groups they were following, Martin Nyman and local junior Forsberg were dropped in the sharp serpentines. Johan Svensson attacked from the chasing group in an attempt to bridge up to team mate Kaananen and quickly gained 15 seconds on the followers.
Martin Nyman chased back to the chase group in order to support his fast sprinting brother, should it come down to a bunch gallop. Lergård and Kuuk regained contact with the second group on a descent, about halfway through the climbing laps. Their group stayed at a distance of 30 seconds behind Kaananen, while Svensson climbed closer to the leader for every lap. He caught Kaananen with four laps to go, but dropped his chain in the climb just after he reached the leader. Unable to get it back in time, Svensson rejoined the race just when the chasing group passed. Fredrik Modin put hard pressure on the riders in his group during the final laps, and got away on his own in pursuit of the leader, or the second place just as well.
Kaananen kept his spirits high, and was unstoppable during the closing laps of the race, and although his teammate Modin came within ten seconds, there was no question he would take a well deserved win in front of the appreciative crowds, but after the race he gave the impression of a humble and somewhat surprised rider.
"I thought I would have a good chance at the sprints, and I put a lot of energy on them, and then I just went on from that. I hadn't planned to ride solo all the way, not at all, but no one caught up."
1 Kimmo Kananen (Fin) Team Mälarenergi 1.05.55 2 Fredrik Modin (Swe) Team Mälarenergi 0.10 3 Johan Nyman (Swe) Team Trek 0.14 4 Johan Svensson (Swe) Team Mälarenergi 0.27 5 Martin Nyman (Swe) Team Trek 6 Tobias Lergård (Swe) Team Bianchi Scandinavia 7 Sigvard Kuuk (Est) Estonia 0.37 8 Fredrik Johansson (Swe) Team Mälarenergi 1.06 9 Niklas Forsberg (Swe) Västerås-Ck 2.01 10 Oscare Kargu (Est) Estlänska Landslaget 3.54
2002 Fredrik Modin (Team Mälarenergi CK)