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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for August 26, 2004

Edited by John Stevenson

Two more golds complete Australian domination

Russia takes women's points race

Track Day 6 Round Up by Rob Jones in Athens

Olga Slyusareva (Russia)
Photo ©: epicimages.us
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The Australian Madison team of Graeme Brown and Stuart O'Grady
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Ryan Bayley and Shane Kelly
Photo ©: epicimages.us
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The track portion of the Olympic cycling program concluded last night with the men's keirin and Madison, and the women's points race. Australia confirmed its status as the dominant nation in track cycling by adding two golds and a bronze to its tally of nine track medals (including five gold) in the keirin and Madison, while Russia added the women's points gold to the men's points title it won yesterday.

Points consistency pays off for Slyusareva

Unlike the men's lapfest, the women's 25 kilometre (100 lap) points race had not one person lap the field. Instead, Russia's Olga Slyusareva consistently nabbed intermediate sprints take the title ahead of Belem Guerrero Mendez (Mexico) and Maria Luisa Calle Williams (Colombia). Mendez , Williams (Colombia) and Gemma Pascual (Spain) tried in the first half of the race, but became bogged down with slower riders and were eventually brought back. Individual pursuit champion Sarah Ulmer (New Zealand) made a valiant attempt with the race two-thirds over, but she and Emma Davis (Great Britain) were quickly chased down.

Aussies powerful in Madison

Australia brought in Stuart O'Grady to team up with Graeme Brown for the 200 lap Madison, and the combination was unbeatable. The duo were in every important move, and were the first of seven teams (along with Germany) to steal a lap on the field. The pair only won one of the sprints, but were consistently in the points, scoring in seven of the ten sprints for a total of 22 points. Switzerland, with Franco Marvulli and Bruno Risi, made a late surge to take the silver, by winning the final three sprints, overtaking Great Britain (12 points) and Germany, who finished fourth with nine points.

Double gold for Bayley in keirin

Ryan Bayley (Australia) joined countryman Graeme Brown as a double gold winner on the track with his win in the keirin. He won the final in dramatic style, powering past four other riders in the final lap to become the first rider to win both the keirin and sprint titles. Jose Escuredo (Spain) took the silver medal, while Rene Wolff (Germany) was next across the line, but was relegated after causing a crash which brought down Mickael Bourgain (France) in the last corner (Wolff moved up from the bottom of the track, causing a chain reaction which brought Bourgain down). This moved Bayley's team mate Shane Kelly up into the bronze medal spot.

Full Day 6 wrap-up and track medals table
Men's keirin first round
Men's keirin second round
Men's keirin final
Men's Madison
Women's points race

Bayley cheers 'insane' golds

By Paul Mulvey, AAP

Ryan Bayley and Graeme Brown claimed an Olympic double each this morning as Australia completed its total dominance of cycling at the Games with a haul of six gold medals.

Bayley won the keirin in an electric show of speed to go with yesterday's sprint gold, only minutes after 4000m team pursuit champion Brown teamed with Stuart O'Grady to defend the Madison title won in Sydney by Australia.

"This is insane," Bayley said.

Australia had never previously won more than two cycling golds at the same Games. This week the team blitzed that record to erase the drugs and appeals dramas which tarnished their build-up to Athens.

After crossing the line in fourth in the keirin, Australia's Shane Kelly was promoted to the bronze medal after Germany's Rene Wolff was relegated for trying to force an opponent up the track.

Australia's total haul from the velodrome is five gold, two silver and two bronze medals, to go with Sara Carrigan's gold in the women's road race last week.

O'Grady was controversially drafted in to the Madison from the road race team to replace Mark Renshaw who attacked selectors yesterday for dumping him. But the South Australian vindicated their decision to win his first Olympic gold after team pursuit silver in 1992 and a pair of bronze in 1996 from the points race and team pursuit.

"I'm speechless, this is the victory I've wanted all my life and I know that Cycling Australia took a big gamble in bringing me here and putting me in the Madison," O'Grady said. "I just want to thank everyone who believed in me and gave me a chance. I certainly didn't come here to get second, it was amazing out there."

After setting a team pursuit world record and now taking double gold, Brown was ecstatic. "I can't believe it, a world record and two gold medals, what a week. I never would have imagined it in my wildest dreams," he said.

Bayley proved when he won the sprint gold yesterday he is the fastest cyclist in the world and his explosive speed took him to a comprehensive win in the keirin.

Spain's Jose Escuredo won the silver and Kelly finally won a bronze after finishing fourth in the 1000m time trial and team sprint.

O'Grady and Brown took the lead in the Madison with 138 laps to go in the 200 lap event when they and the Germans led out a two-pronged attack to gain a lap on the field. O'Grady won the next sprint to take Australia into the lead on eight points with Germany second on five, but both with a lap on the rest of the field.

The Australians took points from all but one sprint after that and when Brown earned three from the second last sprint, he took Australia to an unassailable lead with 19 points. O'Grady punched the air as he crossed the line to gain another three points to win on 22, with Switzerland second on 15 and Great Britain taking bronze with 12.

Mirabella happy

It's a sportswriter cliché that fourth is the hardest place to finish at the Olympics - just out of the medals, off the podium and away from the limelight. But American track racer Erin Mirabella wasn't upset with fourth in the women's points race.

"I was happy, and then I went, 'Oh my God,"' Mirabella told AP. "I didn't even know. I'm very happy with fourth, but it's hard to be fourth. So close. So close."

It was the 26-year-old's best Olympic result - she was eighth in the pursuit at Sydney - and an accurate reflection of her ability. After winning a World Cup points race this year, she finished the World Cup series fourth overall.

Mirabella's ride was also the best track performance by an American at these Games, with the USA taking home no track medals for the first time since 1976.

"I had no idea I was in fourth place," Mirabella said. "I didn't think I had it anyway. I was blown."

Slyusareva's medal "second most important"

Russia's Olga Slyusareva pulled off a rare double by winning the women's points race last night and so taking medals both on the track and in the road race, where she finished third behind Sara Carrigan and Judith Arndt.

But Olympic gold wasn't the crowning life's achievement for the grounded 35-year-old. "The most important thing in my life was when my son was born. The second was winning this Olympic gold medal," she told AFP. "When I lost the first two sprints I thought I probably had no chance to win but I'm very strong. Finally I did win. I'm so happy as this gold medal is so important to me."

Behind Slyusareva history was being made as Belem Guerrero Mendez took Mexico's first ever silver track medal and Maria Luisa Calle Williams scored Colombia's first track medal with the bronze - and promptly fell over.

"I ended up on the floor, but with the medal," she said, adding that she had no idea how she had lost her balance.

Australian coach Barras: Mission accomplished

Australian track sprint coach Martin Barras says that his team has achieved what it set out to at the Athens Olympics. "The objective was to come here and demonstrate to the rest of the cycling world that we run the best team in the world," Barras said yesterday.

"Without being pedantic about it, we need to sit down and take stock and analyse everything we've done here, but it seems pretty clear that we're on the way to achieving that."

Australia's results at Athens look like an upturned finger to the sports authorities and media that hounded the team in the run-up to the games. Controversy continued to dog the squad as a series of appeals and investigations eventually led to Ben Kersten replacing Jobie Dajka. Although Kersten travelled to Athens, he was not selected for any events.

"We had challenges, that in a sense we weren't prepared for in the first place and we had to meet," Barras said. "On very short terms very difficult circumstances, this has been our finest moment, our finest hour."

Australia's Olympic track medals haul

Gold: Anna Meares, women's 500m time trial; Graeme Brown, Brett Lancaster, Brad McGee & Luke Roberts, men's team pursuit (plus Peter Dawson & Stephen Wooldridge, qualifying); Ryan Bayley, men's sprint; Graeme Brown & Stuart O'Grady, men's Madison; Ryan Bayley, men's keirin;
Silver: Brad McGee, men's individual pursuit; Katie Mactier, women's individual pursuit
Bronze: Anna Meares, women's sprint; Shane Kelly, men's keirin

Brandt exonerated

Belgian former Lotto-Dome rider Christophe Brandt has been cleared of doping by the Belgian cycling federation, the KBWB-RLVB, after testing positive for methadone during this year's Tour de France.

According to AFP a source close to the federation, the panel that examined Brandt's case concluded that he had been positive, but that the traces of methadone found in his body had got there accidentally. Methadone is used to treat heroin addiction but is banned in sport unless there is medical justification for its use. Brandt was expelled from the Tour and sacked by Lotto-Domo after his positive test.

"The federation gave a judgement in two parts," said AFP's source. "It firstly considered there were grounds to suspend Christophe Brandt for two years, then it cancelled the sanction because it was an unintentional act.

"Brandt had ordered dietary supplements of amino acids in capsules, these products are absolutely legal. But the methadone was used for another preparation and some methadone particles were found in the capsules taken by Brandt. The federation considered that they could not punish somebody who didn't make a mistake."

Brandt says he is now looking forward to getting back to work.

"I've been waiting for this news for a month and a half," he told Belga. "The most important thing, to my mind, is that I can now talk to the teams about my availability. I can now finally do my job again."

However, the KBWB-RLVB decision is unlikely to be an end to the affair. The organisation's president, Laurent De Backer, expects the UCI to intervene. "Brandt has been cleared by our own independent court active in these sort of cases," he said. "I am very surprised by their decision. I do not really understand it but I do not want to comment more on that.

"The only thing I can add is that I would not be surprised if the UCI (International Cycling Union) appeals the decision."

Phonak for the Vuelta

Tyler Hamilton will lead the Phonak team in the Vuelta a Espana when the final grand tour of the year starts next Saturday, September 4 in León, the team has announced. Hamilton will be supported by Gonzalo Bayarri, Santos Gonzalez, Bert Grabsch, José Enrique Gutierrez, Nicolas Jalabert, Santi Perez, Oscar Sevilla, and Tadej Valjavec.

Freuler extends

In other Phonak news, team manager Urs Freuler will continue to run the squad for the next three years. Announcing the extension of Freuler's contract, team boss and president of the Phonak administrative board, Andy Rihs said, "Under the management of Urs Freuler the Phonak Hearing Systems team has become one of the best teams in the world. We want continue on this course together."

Staying with the theme of continuity, Phonak will also retain its three directeurs sportifs Alvaro Pino, René Savary and Jacques Michaud, whose contracts have been extended for two years.

Yus stays

Unai Yus is to stay with the Brioche la Boulangere team after all, after being reported earlier this month as seeking a new team for 2005. Yus was one of only two non-French riders on the Boulangere squad after the departure of Joseba Beloki in June, but has decided to stay with the team when it becomes Bouygues Telecom next year.

Lehigh Morning Call Rider of the Year

The Lehigh Valley Velodrome will host The Morning Call Rider of the Year on Friday, August 27. The night will crown season long point series champions from the Valley Preferred Enduro Series, Red Robin Sprint Series and The Morning Call Rider of the Year.

Former men's Rider of the Year 2000 Olympian Jame Carney (Northwestern Mortgage) holds an insurmountable lead over the rest of his competitors. However the race for second place is very tight separating current second place Bobby Lea of T.E.A.M. Fuji from 2004 U.S. World Championship Team member Andy Lakatosh by only thirteen points.

On the women's side Becky Conzelman (Frisco Cycling Club) holds an enormous lead over 2000 Junior World Medalist Ashley Kimmet (Colavita). Following Kimmet is former Rider of the Year and 2001 Junior World Champion Sarah Uhl (Quark).

International racing events for the evening will include all of the velodrome's top riders. Notable male riders Jame Carney (Northwestern Mortgage) and Bobby Lea (T.E.A.M. Fuji) and female riders Sarah Uhl (Quark) and Becky Conzelman (Frisco Cycling Club) are slated to compete.

Events on the men's side include one-mile heats and a final, a miss-and-out and the prestigious Artie Greenburg Memorial 10-mile Final. The women will contest 500-meter heats and a final, a miss-and-out and 20-lap final.

For more information see www.lvvelo.org.

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