She turned her head to the left and everything was the same as always: Emma Haines stared at her opponent, remained motionless, and at such moments she seemed to want to eat the other at once. Frenchwoman Mathilde Gros knows to look back without worry, and eye contact is part of the beginning anyway. Her opponent probably didn’t realize how bad Haines was, either before or after the start, and who knows: maybe Matilde Gross wasn’t much better either.
Anyway, after the race on Monday night, everything was back to normal. The Munich crowd cheered, Haines chanted, and soon after the German anthem rang out to capture Heinz’s third gold medal in her third competition. And when she answered questions in interviews, she didn’t stand there – but sat exhausted in a chair that had been set in the mixed zone, like Saturday after winning the 500m individual time test. The 24-year-old from Cottbus said: “Today I went through all the feelings. I vomited, I cried, I thought I couldn’t do it.”
It was quite stressful, as national sprint coach Jan van Eyden later explained. “You get so lactate with this load that at some point your body doesn’t want what you want anymore, you vomit, you can’t eat anything anymore, you just flat out.” Haines said the whole team built her up, gave her her energy and advice, and the national coach explained to her exactly what she had done tactically wrong in the previous race, the second of the three sprints in the top discipline final. It all seemed to help in some way, even if Haines aggressively assumed that day that her third win would definitely not pay off.
Before the race, two riders fell hard and were taken to Munich clinics
Most people at the Munich Velodrome probably thought so until shortly before the finish line, because Mathilde Gross, from the leading position, fended off every attempt to overtake in these three laps, until yes: up to a few centimeters before the finish line, when the Hinze front tire moved Slightly driven and this was eventually demonstrated by the slow motion of the finish line, which can also be seen on the auditorium screens. Haines stated that she only realized her victory when the audience started cheering.
She probably wouldn’t have made it with that very thin third success, had it not been for another violent mishap in the slated aluminum race between the second and third sprint against Gross. Similar to Italian world champion Letizia Paternoster, who broke her collarbone and suffered a concussion on Saturday, many of the riders fell again and exited the same steep corner.
Greece’s Argiro Melaki and Ukraine’s Jana Solovig were bleeding on the track, treated behind screens for about half an hour and then taken to Munich clinics. Haines later said such incidents are bad. It is not yet known how the two were doing. As a driver, you have to let that bounce back from you first. Anyway, the long delay before her final mission definitely helped her regain some strength.
Hinze does not do keirin, the World Cup will be held soon: “I want to be good at it.”
It was already the fifth day of the competition in the exhibition hall in Munich. In the second she won the gold medal in the team race with Pauline Grabush and Leah Sophie Friedrich. Then, in record time, the 500-meter experiment, from which she expected nothing, and which she said she took part in “for fun” – which she then did. And on Tuesday, the sixth and final day, there will also be keirin, the combative enemy, one of their strengths. I have now given up this discipline. “I overstepped my bounds again today,” she explained. The World Cup is held in October, “I want to be good there.” Already having five world titles, the woman is from Lower Saxony, who moved to Cottbus years ago.
Since Pauline Grabush moved from Chemnitz, the entire sprint team has been training there under Alexander Harrisano. Van Egden was a national sprint coach for six months, having previously worked in Great Britain for 15 years. For the German team’s solid performance in Munich, however, he praised the local coaches in Chemnitz, Cottbus, Kaiserslautern – and of course Heinz as the figurehead in the sprinting zone. “Her strength of will and the way she can focus on the starting line is impressive,” said the 46-year-old. Her look isn’t a show on the outside, but something is really going on inside.
The whole team warmed up especially in Augsburg, where, as in Munich, the track is only 200 meters long, instead of the usual 250. However, the profile is different. “There are almost no straight lines here, just curves where you have a longer way out,” he explained. Overtaking attempts should be timed accordingly, which makes Haines’ success in the final all the more important. “When we came here and saw the amount of bends here, we were shocked.” The track was erected in the showroom within two weeks and will be dismantled again after the competitions are over.
Falling is part of it, says the national coach. “You hope it doesn’t, and if it does, it will be exhilarating.”
There were a few bad hiccups. The unusually short course did not lead to significantly more serious accidents, as was feared, until the last day. Natural insanity, if you will: “When you’re on the road, you have to accept that you can fall,” Van Egden said. “Unfortunately, that’s part of cycling. You hope it doesn’t happen, and if it does, it runs off a little bit.”
By the way, when Frenchwoman Mathilde Gross and Emma Haines met again in the interview area, they no longer stared at each other, but rather hugged each other warmly. “On the track, we’re probably the biggest adversaries,” Haines said. They both wanted to show respect to each other. “I think athletes like these are great.”
She also thinks the concept of the European Championships is so fascinating, because it gave the fringe sport an extraordinary media presence during the days of the Munich exhibition center – which Heinz then used to excellently advertise the bicycle race for itself. At least on TV she is. She also has a hand in other sports, such as climbing. Do you want to watch other sports live? Emma Haines only had to think for a moment, and then did so as usual, only saying what was on her mind: “No, I want to go to my bed, my house.”
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