Posted by Editoress on 03/26/08
Track World Championships Manchester UK
The first day of competition has ended at the 2008 Track Worlds, with world titles awarded in four disciplines. The traditional track powers dominated, with host Great Britain taking a gold and a silver, France a gold and a bronze, and the Netherlands two silver medals and a bronze. Canada had one rider entered in competition today - Martin Gilbert in the Scratch Race. Unfortunately, Gilbert crashed with five laps remaining in the race and did not finish.
After an afternoon session of qualifying in the men's individual pursuit, the evening medal session got underway with the women's 500 metre time trial. World Cup champion Lisandra Guerra Rodriguez of Cuba was the clear favourite, in the absence of defending world champion (and world record holder) Anna Meares of Australia. Meares is still recovering from a terrible crash at the Los Angeles World Cup. Guerra held off Simona Krupeckaite of Lithuania by 44 hundredths for the world title, with Sandie Clair of France taking bronze.
In the men's pursuit final it was defending champion Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain) against Jenning Huizenga (Netherlands). Huizenga gave the partisan crowd a scare when he beat Wiggins in the qualifier, but it appears that the Brit may have backed off in the final lap when he knew that he was through to the final, because he had no problem in the final, throwing down the fastest laps for each kilometre of the final. Alexei Markov (Russia) beat a surprisingly strong Hayden Raulston of New Zealand for the bronze. Raulston had set a very strong time in only the second qualifying heat.
The men's Scratch saw the Belarussian Aliaksandr Lisouski take a very gutsy victory over the more favoured Wim Stroetinga (Netherlands) and World Cup champion Roger Kluge (Germany). Lisouski tried a solo move from the starting gun, coming within 50 metres of lapping the field before falling back. He then sat in for the rest of the race until four laps to go, when he chased down a fading and disintegrating break of four. With one lap to go he had taken the lead, and crossed the finish line literally half a bike in front of Stroetinga and the rest of the field.
Martin Gilbert was well placed throughout the race, making sure that he had good position in the front half of the field. When it looked like the race would come down to a sprint finish, just after the field passed five laps to go, he went down in the second corner, sliding onto the apron.
"A guy came down on me, and there was no where to go ... so a guy to my left hit my front wheel, and that was it. That is what makes me really pissed off, I felt really fresh, in perfect position, prefect legs ... if you get dropped you feel bad, but when you know you can do something good it is ten times worse."
The final medal event of the evening was the crowd favourite men's team Sprint. The final came down to defending champions France against former champions Great Britain. The roar of the crowd may have spurred on the British squad of Ross Edgar, Chris Hoy and Jamie Staff, but the French were simply too strong, with the squad of Gregory Bauge, Kevin Sireau and Arnaud Tournant setting a new world fastest time of 43.271 for a 250 metre track (there is no world record because the 3 lap event is held on different length tracks). The Netherlands took the bronze medal ahead of Germany.
- The sound system stopped working just as it was about to play the national anthem of France, but the crowd (in England, no less!) started singing instead, which visibly pleased the French winners.
- The track in Manchester was resurfaced a little more than six months ago, and everyone is saying that it is very fast, and predicting some world records may fall.
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