When the German Grand Prix ends on Saturday evening at 21.30, we know the exact World Cup standings up to this year's very big Danish speedway party in Vojens next week. The key questions are, of course, whether Leon Madsen comes to Vojens as a World Cup winner, and has Niels Kr. Iversen found the momentum to excite him in the top eight?
By Ib Søby
There is a nice stretch of road from Teterow to Dannevirke, and a little further to the dunes at Dybbøl, where the Danes in 1864 had to make a crushing defeat to Otto von Bismarck's troops. It is precisely in this border country that the next two grand prix races are run.
For 30-year-old Leon Madsen, the event on Saturday will be the 314-meter-long Bergring Arena. Here Madsen will be able to feel like a lone soldier with a small company to defend against the enemy's fierce attack. Fortunately, these are not cannonballs and mortar grenades. No, it's about the start and the speed, the courage and the tactical overview.
On the other hand, it is not just from Germany that attacks will occur. Madsen will be heavily challenged by troops from Poland, Russia, Sweden, Slovenia, Slovakia, England and Australia. Yes, even his Danish "fellow" from this summer's Par World Cup, Niels Kr. Iversen, treacherously, will try to give him the back wheel when they meet helmet to helmet.
Fortunately, the world of sports is a nice parallel to the great political wars and human suffering of the world.
But for Leon Madsen it is of course grim seriousness. That is also the case for Zmarzlik and all the others in the World Cup standings. Big mistakes are no longer available, and after Saturday there are only three departments left:
Vojens, Cardiff and Torun.
As seen in the post below, there are in fact still six World Cup candidates; Madsen, Zmarzlik, Saytfudinov, Vaculik, Lindgren and Dudek. There are only 14 points between Madsen and Dudek.
Speedway fans know all about how quickly things can change.
As you know, iron should be forged while the iron is hot. Leon Madsen knows he must keep the chain tight for the next few weeks. Maybe he will never get so close to individual World Cup medals again.
In a recent interview with TV2, Leon talks candidly about the mental pressure it has required just to get into the grandprix series.
Year after year, Leon Madsen has missed the crucial qualification and has only been able to watch, while far younger speedway drivers overtook him inside the game about the coveted seats. Every year he was among the fastest speedway riders in the world, but once he reached the crucial World Cup qualification, he could never find the same speed in the bike.
- When you have been in the qualification seven or eight times, as I have been, and you have not qualified, it is so tough mentally. It is incredibly hard to know that it will take another year before you get the chance again, he says.
But then came the European Championship title and the call last fall from FIM, and with that calm and not least the belief that he will probably become world champion at some point. It should probably take him longer than he expected, but that may have been an advantage, he believes.
- I am actually glad that I only get into the World Cup series now, because I have a lot of experience. I don't come in too young, and where you may not be able to turn around if you meet adversity, Leon Madsen tells Jacob Prytz Hansen from TV2.
Saturday's race is the speedway history's 11th German Grand Prix. It is the fourth time in the small northern German town of Teterow, not far from Rostock. Otherwise, the German edition in the grandprix context has been in Abensberg, Landshut, Pocking, Berlin and Gelsenkirchen. In addition, the bizarre edition in 2008, after huge problems at Arena auf Schalke moved to Bydgoszcz in Poland!
Tommy Knudsen and Hans Nielsen have won on German soil, but around Teterow is the fact that no Danes have reached the podium in the three previous editions. However, Iversen became number four in 2016.
The 34-year-old Martin Smolinski from Munich has a wild card, while Kai Huckenbeck and Max Dilger are pitches.
It might be interesting to know what tactics the long-dead army commander Otto von Bismarck would have chosen. Would Bismarck, with an insidious smile, hold back a little in northern Germany and instead crush the Danish dreams the following week in Vojens? Would he aim for a new triumph just in the middle of southern Jutland, which he conquered in 1864?
We never get the answers to that.
World Cup position:
1. Leon Madsen, Denmark 75
2. Bartosz Zmarzlik, Poland 69
3. Emil Saytfudinov, Russia 68
4. Martin Vaculik, Slovakia 68
5. Frederik Lindgren, Sweden 63
6. Patryk Dudek, Poland 61
7. Maciej Janowski, Poland 51
8. Artem Laguta, Russia 50
9. Janusz Kolodziej, Poland 48
10. Jason Doyle, Australia 42
11. Niels Kr. Iversen, Denmark 41
12. Matej Zagar, Slovenia 37
13. Max Fricke, Australia 36
14. Antonio Lindbäck, Sweden 30
15. Tai Woffinden, England 27
16. Robert Lambert, England 24