Posted by Editoress on 02/22/15
Canada's Monique Sullivan just missed the podium in the women's Keirin at the 2015 UCI Track World Championships on Sunday, in St-Quentin-en-Yvelines, France, finishing 4th. It is Sullivan's best-ever world championship result and caps five days of competition that saw Canada win two bronze medals and a total of four top-8 results.
The host nation captured two more titles, to lead the standings with five gold and seven medals in total. Australia won the other two titles contested, winning the most medals overall with 11, including four gold.
Sullivan qualified in a minimum number of rides to make the gold medal final in the Keirin and rode a strong race, just getting pipped by Lisandra Guerra Rodriguez (Cuba) in the final metres for the bronze. Anna Meares (Australia) won gold and Shanne Braspennincx (Netherlands) the silver.
"Today was a great day on the boards," said Sullivan. "I really owe this one to the team and everyone who supported me. There's been a push to the sprint program and my result is a testament to that. To have a dedicated sprint coach really helps the program and it makes a difference."
"The goal is always to win a medal, but today I focussed on not wanting it. You want it so bad, but I just focussed on the process, and told myself 'it's about position'. In the early rounds especially I executed my rides well and I wasn't scared to race my race, I'm not just following wheels. Just don't be scared, everyone is beatable."
Jacques Landry, Director of High Performance for Cycling Canada, summed up the Canadian performance, "Overall, I am satisfied with this week of competition. We as a program are tracking well with performances at the international level all the while building depth through our development programs. The women's endurance successes this week are a product of great leadership by our coach Craig [Griffin] and also determination and commitment from the women in our program."
"On the sprint side of things, the resurgence of Monique in the Keirin will serve as a catalyst from which we can continue to integrate a high performance culture within our ranks. We've only started seeing what our sprint athletes are capable of. With our sprint coach Erin providing great technical and tactical expertise on a daily in our new home in Milton, there is no doubt in my mind that through patience and hard work we will deliver performances at Games to come."
"I am proud of the athletes and staff that we have in our program right now. We have all the ingredients to become a strong and confident track cycling nation."
Australia was the first nation to stand on the top step of the podium after Annette Edmondson won the women's Omnium competition. In the six events contested over two days, Edmondson won two and only finished out of the top-5 once, for a total of 192 points. Laura Trott (Great Britain), the Olympic champion in the Omnium, overtook Kirsten Wild (Netherlands) to finish second with 175 points, one point in front of Wild.
"I'm absolutely stunned," admitted Edmondson. "I just came in here and gave it my all. Absolutely stoked. This is a big personal goal between myself and my coach Pat Gilmore. We wanted this for so long and came so close for so long. We came in with a different approach this year, we came in a bit more fresh mentally, and to focus on every event individually."
"Coming into today I knew my strengths were the 500 and the Flying Lap and I just had to focus on them, get them out of the way. In the Points race I had three girls who were quite close to me, but they were also close to each other, so I just let them do the work, let each one chase the other, and they ended up tiring each other out toward the middle of the race, so I was a bit more fresh toward the end. It all played into my advantage."
"This win is a huge step for the Australian women's endurance program. We've struggled in the last few years, but we've been doing everything right. We've changed a few things around and it has been really positive for the girls back home and the girls here. It gives us confidence going into Rio next year."
Australia immediately followed up with an historic win in the women's Keirin by Anna Meares, who became the most prolific female track world champion in history by recording her 11th title. Meares had been tied at ten titles with France's Felicia Ballanger, but now stands alone among female riders. Shanne Braspennincx of the Netherlands took the silver medal and Liasandra Guerra Rodriguez of Cuba the bronze, with Canada's Monique Sullivan fourth.
"I had a rough day in the sprint two days ago," said Meares, "and I wasn't sure how I was going to perform today. Credit to my team and my coach who got behind me and let me have some fun today. I don't even remember the race, I was just enjoying myself out there."
"I applaud the UCI for being ahead with the times, for bringing the cameras onboard to give an insight to our fans why we love the sport of track cycling. Cameras and TV from the outside doesn't do it justice. It doesn't show the speed, the close racing, the steepness of the banking,. I personally have enjoyed Francois Pervis in the Keirin on the onboard camera, and I hope many have enjoyed mine as well."
The focus then switched to the two final men's events on the program, beginning with the crowd favourite Madison. Great Britain took an early lead in the race by gaining a lap on the field. France, Italy, Belgium and Spain fought back, retaking the lap and scoring more points in intermediate sprints, to put the Brits out of contention. Going into the final sprint, the French squad of Bryan Coquard and Morgan Kneisky held a slim three point lead over Italy's Liam Bertazzo and Elia Viviani. If Italy could win and France did not finish right behind them, the title would go to the Italians. Italy did take the final sprint, but France finished second, to win the title by a single point.
"It was a very hard race," agreed Kneisky, "with the Italian guys and the English guys taking a lap. It was not easy for me and Bryan [Coquard]. But we were strong during the race. In the final part of the race I think we were the best, when we took a lap for the win."
The world championships concluded with the men's Sprint competition. France was clearly dominant, with four potential medalists in the field. The first big battle of the competition was between French rivals Gregory Bauge and defending champion Francois Pervis in the quarterfinal round, with Bauge defeating Pervis in three rides. Bauge then beat another French rider, Quentin Lafargue, in the semi-final round before taking on Russia's Denis Dmitriev in the gold medal final. Bauge was clearly the stronger rider, winning his fourth Sprint title. Quentin Lafargue took the bronze the bronze.
Bauge admitted that this win was special: "Maybe what makes it different is that it happened in France, at home with my family and all my compatriots. We did something big [with 7 medals] but, to be honest, we were not expecting that. But it is good in the perspective of the [build up to the] Olympic Games, even though there is still work to do."