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World Track Championships - CM
Melbourne, Australia, May 26-30, 2004
Men's 50 km Madison
Curuchet & Perez a new force in the Madison
By Mal Sawford
May 30, 2004: The Madison is always a spectacular race, even if it is often difficult for the uninitiated to follow. The World Championships Madison was no exception, with eighteen teams on the track, laps being won and lost, and a constantly changing lead.
The Argentinean team had promised plenty, after Juan Esteban Curuchet’s medal in the opening night’s Points Race. Proudly the oldest competitor in the field, the 39 year-old teamed with his ‘young’ (at 29) partner of two years to hit the lead for good with only 16 laps remaining in the 200 lap race.
How it unfolded
The bunch stayed intact for the first two sprints, with wins going to France and Austria, before Guido Fulst (Germany) surprised the bunch with a powerful attack. With little response from the bunch, the German pair gained a lap, putting them into the lead.
The attack was so swift that it took the pair only nine laps to catch the field, denying them any sprint points on the way. The sprint at 140 laps remaining saw Mark Renshaw (Aust) take second place, from a break of four teams: Lithuania, Australia, Argentina and Belgium, after Matthew Gilmore (Belgium) had sparked the split.
After the sprint the teams from New Zealand, the Netherlands and Switzerland bridged, with Austria and Spain next to follow. The tired German’s had no answer to the flurry of attacks, and after a fruitless attempt to chase, returned to the main bunch. When the attackers lapped the main bunch with 83 laps to go, Germany were back on level terms on laps, but still without a sprint point to their credit.
The Belgian combination led on 10 points, and when Luke Roberts took the sprint at 80 laps, the Australians were in second place on 8. Robert Slippens put the Netherlands into the lead, winning the sprint at 60 laps, before the Argentines and Spaniards went on the attack.
The bunch split, with the Germans losing contact, and the Australians were in trouble at the back of the field before things regrouped. Six Day star Bruno Risi flew from the clouds with 46 laps remaining, and with Swiss partner Franco Marvulli, lapped the bunch with 35 laps remaining, taking maximum points in the third last sprint.
Curuchet’s winning move came with only 28 laps to travel, the sprint win at 20 laps during their solo attack putting them ahead of the Swiss team, with all other teams at least a lap behind. The Swiss team, trailing by two points in the final sprint, needed to place to win the race. The pace was high, as Australia and the Netherlands fought for the bronze, and despite Marvulli’s desperate effort, the Swiss were unplaced, leaving Curuchet and Perez World Champions.
Curuchet was more than willing to share his happiness, telling Cyclingnews through a translator, “I was a 15 year old with a dream. I’m 39 now so it has taken me over 20 years to get to this moment so you can imagine how I feel about it. I knew I had a little bit left at the end of the Points Race so I felt good going into the Madison.”
The win was the first Gold for Curuchet after ten minor placings in a long career. “We were watching out for Holland. They have had good individual results and good team results. We have been watching them all year and especially today.”
The team didn’t panic after Germany took an early lap, saying, “We knew from experience that riders would get tired by the end so we knew we had to attack later in the race.”
Looking to the Olympics, Curuchet revealed, “We will follow a similar program going into the Olympics. We’ll do a lot of road work followed by some track work as it gets closer to the Olympics. I expect to do very well there, also.”
Perez was a little less verbose, but equally pleased to have been part of Argentina’s only World Championships win saying only, “Step one was to qualify. Step two was to get a medal here and the next step is to medal at the Olympics.”
Silver Medalist Franco Marvulli was delighted with the Swiss result, saying, “I am very relieved. I have not been in good shape as I have been in bed for three days before this totally exhausted. I could only manage to drink a berocca.
"Gold was too far away. We tried everything but in the end we did not have the legs to make it. Now I have that feeling between relief and disappointment as we had gold in our hands. Saying all this we didn’t lose gold we won silver.”
The Bronze went to the Netherlands, after a close sprint battle with the Australian pair. Robert Slippens knew luck had played a part. “We know with the Madison the six or seven teams who can win, you have to be a little bit lucky. It’s always hard losing first position after leading during the last part of the race.”
Far from being disappointed with narrowly missing a medal, Mark Renshaw was “ecstatic after the week I’ve had. Last night was one of the toughest nights for me, watching the guys gold from the sidelines. I knew I had to finish top ten to go to Athens and so to finish fourth I’m ecstatic.”
His thoughts now turn to the Olympics, where he hopes to cement a place in the Teams Pursuit line up; but was realistic enough to offer the following when asked if he thought he would get a ride. “I’ll have to wait and see. I’ve just qualified in the Points Race and the Madison so hopefully selectors in Australia will think I can help with the medal tally. One of our problems in Australia is we have too much depth!”
1 Argentina 7 pts Juan Esteban Curuchet Walter Perez 2 Switzerland 5 pts Franco Marvulli Bruno Risi One lap behind 3 Netherlands 18 pts Robert Slippens Danny Stam 4 Australia 17 pts Mark Renshaw Luke Roberts 5 Belgium 14 pts Matthew Gilmore Iljo Keisse 6 Austria 8 pts Roland Garber Franz Stocher 7 Ukraine 7 pts Volodymyr Rybin Vasyl Yakovlev 8 New Zealand 3 pts Greg Henderson Hayden Roulston 9 Spain Miquel Alzamora Riera Joan Llaneras Rosello Two laps behind 10 France 15 pts Neuville Jérôme Franck Perque 11 Slovakia 5 pts Martin Liska Jozef Zabka 12 Great Britain 4 pts Dean Downing Russel Downing 13 Czech Republic 3 pts Martin Blaha Petr Lazar 14 Germany Guido Fulst Sven Teutenberg Three laps behind 15 Russia Oleg Grishkine Serguei Koudentsov Four laps behind 16 Kazakhstan 3 pts Ilya Chernyshov Yuriy Yuda 17 Uruguay 1 Tomas Margalef Milton Wynants DNF South Africa Robert Dale Jean-Pierre Van Zyl
1 Argentina Black Juan Esteban Curuchet Red Walter Perez 2 Australia Black Mark Renshaw Red Luke Roberts 3 Austria Black Roland Garber Red Franz Stocher 4 Belgium Black Matthew Gilmore Red Iljo Keisse 5 Czech Republic Black Martin Blaha Red Petr Lazar 6 Spain Black Miquel Alzamora Riera Red Joan Llaneras Rosello 7 France Black Neuville Jérôme Red Franck Perque 8 Great Britain Black Dean Downing Red Russel Downing 9 Germany Black Guido Fulst Red Sven Teutenberg 10 Kazakhstan Black Ilya Chernyshov Red Yuriy Yuda 11 Netherlands Black Robert Slippens Red Danny Stam 12 New Zealand Black Greg Henderson Red Hayden Roulston 13 South Africa Black Robert Dale Red Jean-Pierre Van Zyl 14 Russia Black Oleg Grishkine Red Serguei Koudentsov 15 Switzerland Black Franco Marvulli Red Bruno Risi 16 Slovakia Black Martin Liska Red Jozef Zabka 17 Ukraine Black Volodymyr Rybin Red Vasyl Yakovlev 18 Uruguay Black Tomas Margalef Red Milton Wynants