Dutch Open Slalom Championships, Amsterdam 3rd – 5th September 2010: Race Report

Race Report By Rob (with contributions from Paul Price)

The Dutch Open Slalom Championships was the 4th race in the Amsterdam Slalom Series to be held at the Sloten Sportpark on the cycle track adjacent to the Velodrome. This time Team GB comprised Rob, Sam, Jon Merrifield, Paul Price and Ella Rogerro (and two friends Anna and Nina).

Paul and I flew out from Heathrow on Thursday afternoon, Sam had flown from Gatwick and we met him at Schiphol. Jon was meeting us later in Amsterdam having caught a later flight. We made our way into Amsterdam and found our de-luxe 1 star hotel, which for all of its many faults was very well situated close to the Centraal Station and tramlinks. We would be relying on the tram system to make the journey to the Sloten Sportpark race location.

After settling into the hotel we went for walk to familiarise ourselves with the local area and find a bar! Later on we met up with Jon, Ella, Anna and Nina in what was said to be the oldest Bar in Amsterdam! After a couple of beers we all made our way back to our digs – some more easily than others – Ella and co. got lost on their way back to the campsite!

On Friday morning we made our way to the station to catch the No. 2 tram to the race site, stopping to pick up coffee and “brodjes” on the way. When we arrived we found about 30 racers gathered from all over Europe, Brazil and the USA, many whom we had seen two weeks earlier in Dusseldorf. New ramps had been built by Ernst Jan de Boom, he had used the free ABEC11 ramp plans, and they worked well allowing for a good pump off the transition. They were however quite narrow, and a few people did slam on launch!

The first race was a single lane GS, this was held on a fairly wide cycle track with a nice gradient which ran out onto the flat. We would each have three timed runs with the fastest run taken for your time. The course was catching a lot of riders out with its very tight final section onto the flat; with a cone penalty of 0.2 second it would be crucial not to displace too many cones.

Paul did very well and was best of the Brits and coming 4th just behind Fabian (3rd) and Mika (2nd) from Sweden, Dominik took 1st with a super fast clean run.

In the Women’s GS Gang of Germany Pavel rider Kathrin Sehl took top podium spot while Ella came in 2nd and Debbie Tix in 3rd.

After the GS we were due to run through qualifying for the Dual Tight Slalom finals which would be held on Saturday morning. After a discussion with the racers it was decided that we would run right through and finish the TS leaving Saturday as a “rest day”.

The course was set by the Swedes and was very tight and fast. In practice cones were flying everywhere – this was a toughie! Only Paul and Sam made the cut into the round of 16, Sam lost to Ernst by 0.91 second. Paul was drawn against Chris Schutz, the German 313 rider. Paul took the first heat picking up only one cone penalty but Chris put in a very fast second run and although he sent cones spraying everywhere at the end of the course he still went through by 0.39 second. Once again it was left to Dominik and the Swedes to clean up in the finals.     British pride was restored with Ella taking 2nd in the Women’s TS, her Pavel team mate Kathrin Sehl took 1st and local Iris Blom took the 3rd place.

Saturday was now our rest day and allowed us to sample some of the cultural delights of Amsterdam. In the road outside our hotel there was a food festival going on so we went for a wander to sample a few dishes and try some sweets. It was also the culmination of the Dutch equivalent to our student ”Rag Week” so every now and then strangely dressed people would be zooming past us on their bikes, all very surreal! From the food fair we then ventured into the museum district and took in some Modern Art at the Stedelijk Museum.

After the museum there was just time for a quick tour of “The Bols Experience” opposite and a few samples in the mirrored basement cocktail bar before moving on to Leidseplein to meet up with some of the racers in a nearby restaurant. We rounded the night off back at our local bar and watched lots of drunken people, the aftermath of the food and drink fare, stagger around and fall off their bikes – now that’s entertainment!

On Sunday the day began with a junior’s race. The Amsterdam crew run a “Slalom School” every Saturday at the race site and the kids we saw racing were already showing a great degree of skill. The Junior race was won by Cyril Schardijn’s son Bo, lookout for him in years to come! With the Junior race over the course was marked and set out for the Hybrid. It started out as a fast wide course but had a tricky tight’ish section at the end. There had been a few problems with cone judges counting over the weekend and one or two wrong decisions had been made and today was another example. While racing another Rob (Gerlings) I was DQ’d on my second run although I hit cones I went through the course and over the line. The other Rob did DQ! Due to riders having to cone-head on the way back up to the start my DQ was not made clear to me until I got to race control, but don’t get me started! :o)

Sam and Paul again made it into the round of 16 but were both eliminated by the super fast Swedes, Sam by Fabian and Paul by Antonio Saluena – there was some debate over the number of cones counted here too!

Ella again took 2nd place behind Kathrin in the Women’s with Iris Blom taking 3rd spot again.

After the awards ceremony for the weekend a 60-70 cone dual straight was set up on the hill, just for some end of day fun. Jon who is very new to slalom put in a great show once he’d de-wedged his rear truck on his Pavel Roadster, he was able to get a couple of good runs on the fast tight course.

One thing was confirmed this weekend and that was practice on ramp starts and fast early pumping on a hill would help improve our times. We spoke to the Swedes who practice coming off a ramp and concentrate on pumping the first 3 – 4 cones over and over again – and it shows! Ella came a close 2nd in the Women’s Overall; with a few clean runs it might have been different. One thing is sure we need more timed practice sessions with ramps on a hill!

Photos here: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=628572787#!/album.php?aid=278633&id=628572787


Best Team GB Results

Ella: 2nd GS, Tight, Hybrid

Paul: 2nd GS

Sam: 11th TS

Jon: 17th TS

Rob: 19th GS

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