Kostka Races in France: Lyons Race Report

By: Andy Kostka

On September 23rd I (Kostka) got the opportunity to race in Lyon, France in the final marathon event of the 2012 French Inline Cup series.  I was in Germany for business the week prior and was lucky enough to have time off on the weekend that I could attend the race.  Unfortunately, I was unlucky in the fact that I came down with a cold during my stay in Germany and was much less than 100% when I showed up at the start line for the event.

There was about 150 guys that all started at once.  I tried to push my way toward the front, but they were only allowing the top guys from the French cup on the front line.  So right from the beginning I was thinking I need to get toward the front, but was cutoff right away.  Over the course of the first of 14 laps, which were 3 km each, I was trying to make my way toward the front. But every time there was an attack, which there were quite a few in the first lap or two, I kept getting gapped by people in front of me.

 

I was burning up matches like crazy.  Somewhere during the 3rd lap I got dropped by the front group.  I was totally gassed, beyond my limit and suffering. A couple of guys came up from behind me and I tried to get on them, but couldn’t even hold their wheels.  At this point I started wondering how I would be fairing if I hadn’t been sick.  Not a good thought process during a race…

 

Oh a little side note on race conditions, the course had 6 right turns and a 180 degree left turn (with big potholed on the inside and outside lines) every lap.  So, that’s a total of 84 rights I think… We were also skating this race in winds gusting up to 25 mph! There was one section where you were protected by a building from the wind, then you went to cross over the river on the bridge and you would almost get blown over from the crosswind. This spot was right after crossing over the board they taped to the road because of a big crack, so not ideal.

 

Back to the race, I got picked up by a big group of about 20 guys.  I was still kind of hurting at this point so I just tried to sit in.  The problem was that with this dynamic of a course and all those guys it was super tough getting any sort of rhythm or relaxing.  A lot of fast and slow, accelerate and push, etc.  These French guys skated the hill super goofy too. There was a hill every lap, we would go down a hill under a bridge and then up an immediate hill on the other side.  The strange part was that these guys would all skate down the hill and then like coast up the other side, it was super annoying, but I had no energy to really do anything!

 

I just accepted that this race was going to be brutal the rest of the way and sat in the pack trying to feel better. It worked cause by the last couple of laps I was feeling good enough to start thinking more clearly again. I think this is were all the training this season helped out.  Note, another course abnormality, the finishing straight was three lanes wide, but was split between 2 car lanes and a bus lane by a tar curb going along the length of the road.  So, with all those guys in my pack I thought, I am not going to sit in and get knocked down or finish in the back of this group of yahoos in a big field sprint.  So I decided, hell with it and when we got to the last hill climb I surged up it.

 

Immediately after the hill was the left 180 degree turn, so I did a couple of hard crossovers and got a gap.  There was about half mile to go.  Just one guy came with me, so I put my head down and went for it.  That guy passed me at the finish, but luckily the pack was unorganized and I was able to hold off the rest of the field.  A small victory to leave France with I guess.  We actually still finished in 1:12.58, so pretty decent time, just unfortunate that I didn’t feel good during the race.

 

So, I didn’t realize till I was done, but the guy that won the race was Peter Michael.  The New Zealand guy who the week before at Worlds set the world record on the track in the 15,000 meter.  He won the 1000 meter as well and was the overall champ on the track at Worlds this year.  So he and any of the other guys that stayed with him were obviously world class!  I think they finished 1:07 and change.

 

 

It was bummer that I was sick, but overall it was a cool opportunity that I am glad I was able to experience.  The “big” crowd, the city circuit course, and race atmosphere where great.  Imagine if we could have a race in downtown Minneapolis or St. Paul on Saturday or Sunday afternoon with crowds of people that both planned on coming as well as just stopped and watched as they were walking by. Very cool!

Well that marks the end of the inline race season for me.  It was great skating and racing with all of you this summer.

Andy Kostka