March 15/06 2:54 am - Commonwealth Games Preview Report
Posted by Editor on 03/15/06
Commonwealth Games Preview Report
The Opening Ceremonies are about to begin for the 18th edition of the Commonwealth Games, and the cycling events will get underway tomorrow (March 16th local date) on the Track. Today the track riders had a chance to do some training, and we were there to chat with them and take photos (which will go up in the morning EST).
However, the biggest news of the day is the crash Lyne Bessette suffered. Bessette, a favourite for the road race and time trial, was training on the mountain bike course in the mid-afternoon. According to Technical Director Kris Westwood: "it was a rocky, technical section and she just missed a turn and went off the edge of the course. It was slow speed - less than 10 kilometres an hour - but she went down on her shoulder."
Bessette suffered a dislocated shoulder (her left). It is not the same shoulder she crashed on a few weeks ago at the Geelong stage race. Westwood says that "it is the least damage that she could suffer with this type of injury. Right now, she is hurting pretty badly, but it appears that she should be able to race the road race. We are playing it day-by-day, but she has 10 days to recover before the road race (March 26th). Lyne is in the best spirits than can be expected, given the circumstances."
Bessette was scheduled to race the time trial on March 21st, but that is more doubtful (and the mountain bike race on March 23rd is extremely unlikely).
Moving back to the track; Canada has 7 athletes scheduled to compete in 7 events:
Mandy Poitras - Points Race
Gina Grain - Points Race
Zach Bell - Individual Pursuit and Points Race (also Road Time Trial)
Martin Gilbert - Points Race and Scratch Race (also Road Race)
Travis Smith - Team Sprint, Sprint and Keirin
Yannick Morin - Kilo and Team Sprint
Cam MacKinnon - Sprint, Kilo and Team Sprint
Tomorrow (March 16th) the opening session runs from 6 pm to 10:30 pm local time - 2 am to 6:30 am EST. Three events will take place (with medals awarded in all three the same evening): Women's 500M Time Trial, Men's Kilo and Men's Individual Pursuit.
Martin Barras, the head coach of the powerhouse Australian team, points to the Kilo as being possibly the most competitive event of the entire track program.
"You've got the three top kilo riders in the world here - Chris Hoy (Scotland), Jason Queally (Great Britain), Craig Maclean (Great Britain). Two Commonwealth Games champions, two Olympic champions ... the Kilo is where it is at."
Barras also points to the women's individual pursuit as a very competitive event. "Katie Mactier and Kathy Bates (both Australia) are very strong, so I think it will be those two in the final."
What about the rumour that world record holder and Olympic champion Sarah Ulmer (New Zealand) will ride?
Barras laughed - "that's the Kiwi's paying us back for the trick I tried on them in Athens. I told Kurt (Innes, the New Zealand track coach at the time) that Katie (Mactier) was planning on catching Sarah in the first six laps. So Sarah went out two second faster in the first laps, and we thought it was good because she would tire at the end. But then she ended up breaking the world record by three seconds... I don't think Sarah will do the Pursuit, it hasn't been in her program, but if she does, it will be a very interesting race!"
In other news, Scotland's Chris Hoy is entered in four events - Kilo, Team Sprint, Sprint and Keirin - but it is only the first two events that are certainties, according to team personnel. Hoy may enter either the Sprint or Keirin as well, but is unlikely to do both.
Race Note: Keep the messages coming to the athletes. They are telling us that they are reading them and enjoying the correspondence.