Posted by Editoress on 01/20/06
While no medals were awarded in the opening session of the third round of the Track World Cup in Los Angeles, a number of upsets livened things up. In the women's sprint Kerrie Meares (Aus), Yvonne Hijgenaar (Ned) and Tamilla Abassova (Rus) all failed to make it through the first round (1/8 Final), while Mickael Bourgain (Fra) was disqualified in the Keirin Repechage.
The session started with the Women's Sprint Flying 200M Qualification and Natalia Tsylinskaya (Blr), the final starter, took the top spot with a strong ride of 11.322 seconds, 78-hundredths ahead of Italian Elisa Frisoni. It was apparent that Meares was struggling, when she barely qualified, finishing 15th (the top-16 moved on). Abassova was also slower than expected, qualifying ninth.
Australian coach Martin Barras agreed that Meares' performance was disappointing. "She didn't impress me and she didn't impress herself (in the sprint). When she arrived yesterday she was flat, and this morning she was flatter ... Hopefully she will improve through the weekend."
Frisoni easily disposed of Meares, while further upsets were provided by China's Jinjie Gong over Hijgenaar and Dana Gloss (Ger) over Olympic sliver medalist Abassova. World Keirin champion Clara Sanchez (Fra) was the other rider to upset a higher qualifying competitor, when she beat Lyubov Shulyka (Ukr). Shulyka made the mistake of letting Sanchez get too far out in front on the first lap, and the French rider jumped, opening a gap that the Ukrainian couldn't close by the line.
Three of the four quarterfinals also took a full three rides to decide, with Tsylinskaya, Sanchez and Guo (China) having to go the extra ride. The only rider to make it through in two straight was Willy Kanis (Ned), who simply overpowered the less experienced Gong.
The first round of the men's Keirin was straightforward, with the exception of Bourgain's disqualification in the repechage. As the riders came through on the final paced lap, Bourgain and Yusho Oikawa (Jpn) both sped up and went over the top of the pack, getting in front of the pace rider, resulting in instant disqualification and necessitating a rerun of the heat. One official said he couldn't recall seeing this happen before at such a high level event.
The men's pursuit qualification also had one unusual incident, in the first heat between Zach Bell (Can) and Johny Morales Aquino (Gua). Bell caught Morales Aquino with approximately six laps to go. The Guatemalan then paced behind Bell, who was unaware of his 'partner'. When Bell finished his ride, he slowed, swung up the banking and crashed into Morales Aquino who was trying to pass. Bell went down and Morales Aquino was disqualified. Jens Mouris (Ned) and Sergio Escobar (Spa) were the top qualifiers, three seconds faster than Fabien Sanchez (Fra) and Jason Allen (NZl), who will ride for bronze.
The session finished with qualification rounds for the women's Points and men's Scratch races.
- Canadian riders had a good start to the event (except for Bell's crash), with Bell posting a personal best in the pursuit, Travis Smith finishing second in the first round of the Keirin and moving on, and both Mandy Poitras and Gina Grain scoring points in the Points Race and moving on to the Final.
- Bell had no idea that Morales Aquino was pacing behind him. "After I passed him, of course I didn't look back. I was having a strong ride, a PB (personal best), but I started to struggle at the end. When I finished I swung up and he was right there. Lucky I was so tired that I was relaxed when I went down!"
- Bell and Martin Gilbert are trying to qualify for the Commonwealth Games, with strong finishes in the Pursuit, Madison, Points and Scratch races.
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