Posted by Editoress on 01/21/07
Track World Cup #3 Los Angeles
Day Two at the Los Angeles round of the Track World Cup saw six finals decided, with the highlight for the capacity crowd in the evening session world champion Sarah Hammer's U.S. record in the women's pursuit. The evening also providing some exciting sprinting and a gutsy re-ride by the Danish pursuit team after crash during qualifying.
Women's 500M Time Trial
Only nine women participated in the women's 500M, with Cuba's Lisandra Guerra beating Willy Kanis (Netherlands) by three-tenths of a second. China's Guo Shuang partially redeemed herself after being disqualified the day before in the sprints by taking the bronze.
Only 16 men of 43 starters made it through the qualifying 200M time trial to contest the men's sprint, with Canadian Commonwealth Games medalist Travis Smith just squeaking through in 16th place. Unfortunately, this put him up against Keirin winner Chris Hoy (Great Britain), who qualified fastest with a 10.287, followed by countryman Ross Edgar (Team SIS).
All the top qualifiers made it through the first round, and it looked like Hoy was going to try and use the tactics that served him well during the Keirin - go to the front and burn off the competition. However, sprinting is not always the straightout drag race that the Keirin is, and Hoy was up against the very experienced Roberto Chiappa (Italy), who negated Hoy's power by riding from the front, forcing him to try and come by on the outside. Chiappa took Hoy in two straight to move on to the semi's. Hoy won the ride-off for 5th.
Gregory Bauge (France), Edgar and Jason Kenny (Team SIS) also moved on to the final four. Chiappa disposed of Kenny in two straight, but Bauge had a tougher time, having to win the second and third rides after Edgar took the first ride. For the bronze, it was the more experienced and stronger Edgar beating his young team mate in two straight.
The gold medal final saw two experienced rivals put on a show of tactics and speed. Last year at the Worlds, Chiappa was victorious over Bauge, but Bauge was ready for revenge, and confident on this track - where he won last year. Bauge came from behind on both rides, muscling by Chiappa in the final metres to repeat as the gold medalist.
"I'm very happy to win here, after being eliminated last year at the Worlds by Chiappa. Now I have one more year's experience and it shows; I am more confident in my abilities. Now I know that I can go to (the Worlds) as a contester, to fight for a medal."
"Here, it is my second victory in a row; I prefer this track. The crowd seems to be very supportive; maybe it is because I am black?"
Travis Smith was frustrated with his race. "I was hoping to do a 10.5 at least in qualifying (his time was 10.732), but when I stood up to sprint, it was 'whoa' - I could feel my legs were dead. I don't know what it is; I'm just not there yet. It's frustrating after such a good year last year."
Men's Points Race
This 120 lap race came down to the final sprint, with the top two riders separated by one point only. 19 year old Cameron Meyer (Australia), riding in his first mass-start World Cup, took the victory by jumping onto key breaks that stayed away to take points.
David O'Loughlin (Ireland) tried to steal a lap multiple times, but the field was too aggressive, with riders immediately jumping on his wheel each time he got a gap. Brit Chris Newton took the lead after the first sprint, and he and Meyer swapped it throughout the race, with the Aussie scoring points in seven of the 12 sprints. Newton was fading towards the end, as he tried to police every break, and missed the final one with Meyer, Sergey Kolesnikov (Russia) and Joan Llaneras Rosello (Spain).
"I was really hurting, but Llaneras moved, so I went with the Russian (Kolesnikov). After that I just tried to stay with them to the end."
Meyer took maximum points in the final sprint, while Newton didn't take any, sealing the victory.
Canada's Zach Bell (Symmetrics) made the final (Martin Gilbert did not), but was part of a large group comprising of nearly half the field which was lapped by the other half)
A record 14 teams participated in the Team Pursuit, with the top four qualifying for the medal rounds. Belgium set the early fast time of 4:12.986, but Great Britain knocked nearly nine-tenths of a second off, and then the Ukraine took it to 4:10.908 . World Cup leaders Russia squeaked in front of Great Britain at 4:11.592 . Denmark was on a gold medal round time until the middle two riders crashed spectacularly with two laps to go. After a rest (and bike repairs) the team went back on the track last for a re-ride and, with the crowd cheering them on, qualified first at 4:09.884, to go up against the Ukraine for the gold medal. In the finals, Russia steadily pulled away from Great Britain for the bronze, while the gold medal ride was a seesaw battle between the Ukraine and Denmark.
Ukraine took an early lead, but the Danes came back and looked to be pulling away until the final two laps when the extra effort earlier in the day seemed to abruptly catch up with them, and the wheels came completely off their effort. First Caspar Jorgensen pulled off, then the other three completely strung out, with a good ten metres between each rider on the final backstretch. They lost a second in the final two laps.
Team Symmetrics entered a team in the Team Pursuit, finishing last. Svein Tuft said that it wasn't a complete surprise. "It's a huge learning experience; we had to come to a big event to learn what is required at this level. This is how we learn what we are getting into."
We were shooting for a time 2-3 seconds faster, but this is so new that we are just going out there to race. Our pacing was good; the first kilo was really proper, but we need to fine tune how we ride. Zach can really nuke it, and he and I can take longer pulls."
Women's Team Sprint
This two rider / two lap event is new this year, and only five teams contested in Los Angeles. The Netherland's Yvonne Hijgenaar and Willy Kanis showed how it is done by besting Australia (Kaarle McCulloch and Anna Meares), in both the qualifier and the final. Cuba (Guerra and Yuman Gonzalez Valdinieso) beat the U.S. (Liz Carlson and Jennie Reed) for the bronze. the Americans had a last minute scramble for their start, after the 50 second warning buzzer went off while both were still sitting on the bench at trackside. Both were getting on their bikes and clipping in at the 30 second warning.
Women's Individual Pursuit
The highlight of the evening was the victory of reigning world champion, and local girl Sarah Hammer. Hammer, who won the Points Race the evening before, scorched the rest of the field in qualifying with a U.S. record of 3:32.058 - seven seconds faster than second place Verena Joos of Germany. Maria Luisa Calle Williams (Colombia) and Karin Thurig (Switzerland) qualified to contest the bronze medal.
Thurig did not start the final - her coach said that she was sick in the night before the qualifier, and then sick again after the race. So it was 'just' Hammer versus Joos. The race was no contest, with Hammer having Joos in her sights by the halfway point, but she was content to keep it there, and eased off in the final 100 metres to wave to the crowd as she crossed the line.
"Once I had her in my sights, I just put it on cruise control," said Hammer of her conservative second-half tactics.
"I didn't expect a new record today after my effort in the points race. I knew I could do it on fresh legs, but the points race was one of the events I really wanted to focus on. The goal here was really to win the points race and to show I'm going to be very competitive at the world championships."
Canada had one rider in the Pursuit - Julia Bradley (Team R.A.C.E.) - who finished 16th out of 18 riders. "I started out too hard and killed myself in the first couple of laps, and paid for it the rest of the race. I haven't done a pursuit for a long time, and I'm a lot stronger than I used to be. I know that I am capable of going 10 seconds faster (which would have put her close to top-10), so I will do better in Manchester."
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