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January 19/08 3:22 am - La Track World Cup: Day 1 report and photos


Posted by Editor on 01/19/08
 

LA World Cup

Photos from Day 1 at the ADT Velodrome in Carson CA

Men's Points Race

Men's Individual Pursuit

Men's Team Sprint

Women's Individual Pursuit

Women's Scratch Race

Women's Sprint

Day One of the Track World Cup in Los Angeles may have included one of the longest sessions ever run at an international track meet. The morning session started at 9:00 am and didn't wrap up until 5:45 pm, and the evening session began 75 minutes later. The reason? The sheer number of competitors and one frighting crash which held things up for approximately 30 minutes.

Canadians had mixed results, with Tara Whitten finishing an extremely strong 9th in the women's Pursuit and Monique Sullivan recording just over 12 seconds in the women's sprint qualifying at her first World Cup. Zach Bell finished a strong fourth in the Points Race qualifier, but was lapped in the Final. None of the Canadian women - Gina Grain, Jenny Trew and Julia Bradley - qualified for the Final in the women's Scratch Race.

Women's Sprint

World Cup leader Natalie Tsylinskaya (Belarus) completely dominated the women's sprint, despite only qualifying 6th behind Simona Krupeckaite (Lithuania). Tsylinskaya didn't lose a ride on her march to the gold.

Sullivan, who has almost no track time this year, was here "for the experience" according to coach Tanya Dubnicoff. "Just this week she has shown enormous improvement, going from 12.5 (seconds) to just over 12 [12.042]. If she raced again tomorrow she would definitely be under 12." Sullivan was 21st - 0.21 seconds out of qualifying for the top-16.

A number of big names either did not qualify or went out early - Kerrie Meares (Australia - 23rd), Elisa Frisoni (Italy - 22nd), Nancy Contreras (Mexico - 25th), Anna Meares (Australia - out in the the first round), Jinjie Gong (China - out in the the first round), Lulu Zheng (China - out in the the first round).

Clara Sanchez (France), Willy Kanis (Netherlands), Tsylinskaya and Jennie Reed (USA) made it through to the Semi's, and then Reed fought back from losing the first heat to Sanchez to meet Tsylinskaya in the final. The Belarus rider used brute power to overwhelm the American, but it was still the best finish Reed has ever had at this level of competition. Kanis took three rides to win the bronze over Sanchez.

Women's Individual Pursuit

World champion Sarah Hammer, who uses the Home Depot track as her home base, was clearly the crowd favourite, but the defending winner here could only manage to qualify third. Hammer has been suffering from back problems for the past few months, and doesn't have the racing in her legs that the other riders do. She struggled to qualify fourth, and then pushed herself to the limit to take the bronze medal over Lada Kozlikova (Czech Republic). Hammer posted the fastest ride of the day in her final.

The race for gold was won by a newcomer to the senior ranks - Lesya Kalitovska of the Ukraine. Kalitovska may be only 19, but she is a two-time Junior world champion. The Ukrainian beat Maria Luisa Calle (Colombia) by seven-tenths of a second in qualifying, but was nearly two minutes in front for the gold medal ride.

Canada had two riders in the Pursuit - Whitten and Julia Bradley (Team R.A.C.E.), who finished 26th.

Whitten came out of cross-country skiing, and said that if she hadn't been here this weekend, she would have been at a World Cup ski race instead. The Albertan has made strong progress, moving up from 10th in Beijing to ninth here, and her qualifying time was only 2.404 seconds out of making the bronze final.

"It is steady progress," she said. "Each race I learn some more, my skills get better." At this point it looks like Whitten will have qualified for Worlds.

Almost immediately after the race we received an e-mail from Roger Tetrault: You may or may not be aware, but this was probably not even the 20th 3000m pursuit Tara has done. She is an ex-cross-country skier and because of years of training for that sport has a huge engine. She rode a bit more this last season in Edmonton and after Nats decided to give track a go. So we are proud of her achievements here in Edmonton.

Whitten also said that it is partially due to the Velocity club in Edmonton that she is even able to attend the World Cups, since the projects are at least partially self-funded.

Women's Scratch Race

There was a huge field for this event, requiring three qualifying heats, with the top-8 from each heat moving on to the final. As mentioned above, none of the Canadians qualified for the final, all finishing towards the back of the pack in their respective heats. In the final, the finish was completely anti-climactic, with first Elena Tchalykh (Russia) and then three others - Evgeniya Romanyuta (Russia), Charlotte Becker (Germany) and Eleonora Van Dijk (Netherlands) - lapping the field. After this, the pack cruised for the line, with the top-4 all finishing in the group, and Van Dijk sneaking across the line just in front of Romanyuta and Tchlaykh.

Men's Team Sprint

Qualifying for this event was marred by a horrific accident at the start of the heat between Russia and Korea. One of the Koreans became stuck in the starting gate when it did not release his back wheel. Meanwhile, the Russian team was powering full speed around turns one and two. Normally, officials would fire two shots on the starters gun and the riders would know the ride for aborted, but the pistol was not working properly, and the second shot rang out just as they came onto the straightaway and saw the Koreans in front of them.

Officials frantically waved them down (the Russians were travelling at over 60 kilometres an hour) and dived for safety. Two of the three riders dodged above the Korean stuck in the gate, and the third (Sergey Polynskiy) almost got by, but clipped his handlebars on the gate and slammed into the back of the Korean rider (Su Hyun Park), then flipping over him and crashing onto the track.

The Russian was taken away by ambulance, strapped to a backboard and with his left arm splinted up. The Korean had contusions, but rode the re-ride both teams were given (the Russians, obviously, with a replacement rider). Russia was a surprising fifth, so who knows how they would have done without the crash.

The final came down to France versus the French Cofidis squad for gold and Australia versus the Australian Toshiba squad for bronze. Both national squads won their respective medal races, despite finishing behind their rivals in the qualifying round. Cofidis benefited in the gold medal final from a rare mistake by France when their lead rider Mickael Bourgain dropped his two team mates, riding the entire lap 5 metres in front of them.

Men's Points Race

It took three qualifying heats to choose the riders for the final in this event, and Zach Bell rode a smart race to finish fourth in his heat. The Final was aggressive from the gun, as multiple attempts were made to take a lap. However, it was World Cup leader Cameron Meyer (Australia) who dominated the race. He factored in two-thirds of the 12 points sprints, and was never far from the front. Second (3 points back) was Poland's Rafal Ratajczyk, who took a different tactic - winning outright four sprints, including the final one.

Bell struggled in the final, never quite able to pick the right position to score points, or just unable to match the sheer speed at times. Eventually he lost a lap - a third of the field did, and six abandoned the race.

"The final is a whole different race from qualifying. In qualifying I was able to ride the race I wanted, but the in final, everyone is going that much harder and I wasn't able to do the ride I needed."

Men's Individual Pursuit

This was the Taylor Phinney show. The 17 year old American phenom qualified second behind Jenning Huizenga (Netherlands) by just over half a second and then, after a seesaw battle for the first half of the gold medal final pulled away to win his first World Cup by over two seconds. Sergi Escobar (Spain) took the bronze. Phinney is now one point out of the World Cup overall lead, behind Volodymyr Dyudya (Ukraine) who did not attend.

Phinney is the son of former cycling stars Connie Carpenter-Phinney and Davis Phinney, and his proud parents were out to cheer him on. I spoke with Davis after the race, and asked him about the emotional difference of winning a major event versus watching your son win.

"It's different, very different. When it's yourself you are caught up in the vortex of what's happening and you can't appreciate it. But this, to stand back and watch it, to experience it ... this is so special."

Race Notes

- The latest on the Svein Tuft Pursuit-Maison saga: There were rumours that Tuft had been quietly asked to participate in this project after the storm created by our editorial a week ago. We spoke with team manager Eric VDE, who confirmed that Tuft had been approached and had declined.

Ryan Mackenzie had crashed at the Burnaby Six Day, injuring his chest and there were concerns that he would not be able to race the Madison. So VDE contacted Tuft asking him if he would like to come down, race the Pursuit and practice for the Madison in a backup position.

Tuft declined, we are told because he was approached only a few days ago (Monday) and already was on an alternate training plan (cross-country skiing). Plus, his interest was the Madison, not the Pursuit (which he has not trained for in months).

As it turns out, MacKenzie is fine, and will race the Madison with Bell.

 


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