The king is dead… Long live the King!

And we’re back in the UK.

No jet lag so far. No thermal shock. Just sadness and emptiness. My World title quest have failed miserably. I have finished 9th with 12 points, with one win it was a poor show. The tour was dominated by Marcin Szymanski and he is the newly crowned World Champion. Many said during the tour, can anybody beat him? I sincerely doubt it. He has elevated the bar to an unreachable, to me, level. I’m sure all the young guns will be looking forward to the next Championships to knock him off the pedestal. At the moment though, at 33, he is the best by far.

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My trip started quite well, after landing in Adelaide on Monday morning I was on my bike the same evening racing in the qualifier. I needed a run off to progress, but it was a good start with a difficult draw. I knew I would have a couple of days rest from racing, so we enjoyed Adelaide and the surrounding area. First time I could see Australia in spring and it is truly beautiful. After sightseeing and a bit of training it was time to ride for Poland against the Aussies. The first test was quite close, although I thought we were a bit too fast off the gates for them. We have won at the end and the mood was quite good. We could see that it could be a great tour for Poland. Juniors were simply head and shoulders above the opposition. Seniors were doing well too. I opted for a rest in the second test. Poland beat the Aussies quite comfortably in the second test the day after.

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Next meeting was the Federation Cup. New competition introduced this year, I reckon it could be a winner. It is a three way test match against the best nations in the sport. Australia, Poland and Great Britain were to race in pairs, so team riding was allowed. It was bound to be a close one, and it certainly was. Le Fevre track proved to be the best out of the four tracks we were racing on. Very fast and grippy, with wind being the only spoiler, strong gusts blowing in your face while gating, not a nice thing. Team riding in pairs is a different kettle of fish. I always thought Aussies and Brits had an upper hand on us. I think the way the league works in the UK, there is a strong emphasis on riding as a team and you can see that. Aussies way of team riding is something else. Often taking to the extremities, every rider is ready to sacrifice his personal score and prioritize his team achievement. Again I thought we were gating well, and we were heading in the right direction. And then disaster struck. Two tapes exclusions, one from me, and we were facing an uphill battle. Very uncompromising referee would not let us back into the match, there were some controversies late in the meeting. The Aussies got their win and were jumping for joy. We knew what we were capable of. We had good juniors on stand by and we could hold our heads high. We have left a lot of hard work on that track.

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Fed Cup finished quite late, but we had some decisions to make within the camp. Next day was the first major event, The Best Pairs Championships. With Marcin an automatic choice, it was down to three of us, with very little in between. At the end it was chosen that Binkowski will ride with Marcin, with me as a back up. Murray Bridge was the track for the day. As usual it was in the early afternoon, so a very hot day ahead of us. It is always a couple of degrees warmer over there too, and with the womens test, and the juniors before the main event it was a bit of a drag. Anybody that has been a reserve in a meeting, with no scheduled rides, knows how hard it is to get ready. I didn’t know if I get to ride at all. First race against England was very important. We had the inside grids and had to make a strong impact if we were to win the event. With only four races per team, there was no room for points dropping. We started with a draw, not a desired outcome, but a tough team riding from Lee and Paul virtually shut Binky’s straight out of the gate. Next race was against the Scots and I had the nod from the guys. It worked well as I would have a chance to stretch my legs and get to know the track. It was clear I was to ride against the Aussies in the race after. We had the outsides and we needed a draw at least. With Marcin riding how he was, I went on two with clear instructions to make sure whoever was on three could not get past me. It worked a treat and after one lap we have got rid of Cody and chased after his brother for four hard laps eventually killed him on last lap. A good 6:4 and we were in the driving seat. Last race was against Wales and we needed a another 6:4 which me and Binky cleverly achieved. This gold medal is my third in my career, firstly winning it in 2005 with Karol. Can’t believe it was such a long time ago…

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It is very hard for me writing it now, after the event had finished two weeks ago. I have let my immediate feeling out straight away on social media and that was that. I’m always trying to “Call it as I’m seeing it” as Mick Harley says. I have been told during my time in Oz that some of my blogs have upset people. Some people are literally looking forward to read them, which is why I have decided to carry on writing. I believe that an individual should rise above all that is written about him. After all we all have a right to an opinion. Cycle Speedway is a very small sport with a minimal media presence and reporting could definitely do with more brave people out there pouring their hearts out.

This is the first Oz blog. More to come…

photo: Magda and Savage Shots.

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