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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News, August 20, 2008

Edited by Paul Verkyulen

Pendelton claims gold as Meares caps a successful come-back

The women's sprint podium:
Photo ©: Casey Gibson
(Click for larger image)

The women's sprint final came down to an emotionally charged pairing between three time sprint world champion Victoria Pendleton (Great Britain) and Athens 500m gold medallist Anna Meares (Australia). Pendleton, buoyed by the success of her British team, powered away from Meares in two rides to take home the gold.

Pendleton expressed disbelief at finally winning Olympic gold. "I keep wanting to pinch myself, thinking I'll wake up. I knew my speed was good from the qualifier and first rounds, but I was such a mess because I wanted it so badly. I had to focus on the process to get through it."

Meares was ecstatic with silver, after battling back from injury. "I can't begin to tell you how much this means to me," she explained.

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"Silver could be good as gold for me right now. It's been a tough run, for sure, but an amazing journey. To be seven months out from the Olympics and have a crash that fractures two vertebrae, and you could be a quadriplegic ... so many things go out the door, you think your Olympic dream is out the door. I have worked really hard, and fought hard. This is worth all the efforts to get back on the bike."

The 24-year-old from Blackwater in Queensland, Australia was the victim of a high-speed fall at the Los Angeles World Cup meeting in January that fractured her C2 vertebrae and right collarbone; left her wheelchair bound and resulted in her only securing her berth for Beijing in June.

Meares' run to the gold medal ride off was nothing short of dramatic either.

A nerve-wracking, physical and controversial semi-final tussle against the fancied Shuang Guo (China) saw the pair got to three rounds before the final spot in the final against Pendelton could be decided.

Anna Meares (Australia)
Photo ©: Casey Gibson
(Click for larger image)

The first two rounds were straight forward enough with each rider taking one win each to force the decider.

The third race was laced with drama. Guo fell on the back straight midway in the second lap and the restart took the tension to a higher level. Guo led until Meares snuck through on her left at the bottom of the track on the final bend into the finishing straight where the pair exchanged in a little niggle with their elbows. The pair drew level as they crossed the line, with Guo just getting the better of Meares.

But it wasn't over. After reviewing the race the judges relegated Guo to second and therefore for bronze medal ride off, for riding into Meares' sprinting lane, an automatic disqualification.

Meares' medal was the first and only medal for Australia at this Olympics, making it their worst Olympics campaign since Moscow in 1980.

In the bronze medal final it was Guo who surprised by beating Dutch former BMX world champion Willy Kanis in two rides. The Chinese hero thrilled the crowd by besting Kanis to secure her country's first cycling medal of the Games.

Hoy, Hoy, Hoy!

Jason Kenny and Chris Hoy (Great Britain)
Photo ©: Casey Gibson
(Click for larger image)

In the men's sprint final, Great Britain's Chris Hoy secured his third gold medal of the Games with a no-contest two ride win over his own team-mate, Jason Kenny. The Scot dispatched his younger competitor with ease to hand Britain its seventh gold medal of the track cycling events. Hoy, who switched over to the sprint after taking the gold medal in the kilometre time trial in Athens, was amazed that he was able to make the transition so successfully.

"A year ago I wouldn't have believed it," commented Hoy on his third gold of the Games. "It's such an achievement. All the build up of emotions that evaporated at the finish line. It's like nothing else."

Despite having defeated Kenny soundly, Hoy tipped his 20-year-old countryman as the rider he expects to take his place as the top sprinter in the world. "This is the man who's going to win it in London."

In the bronze medal final, Mickaël Bourgain salvaged the pride of the French sprinters by taking home the bronze in a closely fought three-ride battle against German Maximilian Levy.

Complete coverage of the mens and womens Olympic Games sprint final.

Zabel to skip Deutschland Tour in favour of Vuelta

The Deutschland Tour may have to do without the biggest names in German cycling, as Erik Zabel of Team Milram has said that he will skip the Tour in favor of the Vuelta a Espana. Double Tour de France stage winner Stefan Schumacher of Gerolsteiner has already announced his intention to ride in Spain, while Astana's Andreas Klöden has not yet decided which race he will participate in.

Milram team manager Gerry van Gerwen confirmed to media outlet dpa that Zabel would be headed to Spain. "It is in his contract that he may ride in the Vuelta." It would be the first time that the 38-year old will have ridden all three Grand Tours in one season. In his 16-year career, Zabel has won 12 stages in the Tour de France and taken the sprinter's jersey six times, and in the Vuelta he has eight stage wins and three points jerseys.

The race organizers were not happy with the news. "Erik Zabel is both athletically and personally an enrichment for the D-Tour," said Reinald Achilles of the Tour organizer Upsolut. "Therefore we are sorry that he won't start with us." He added that Klöden's participation was still "unclear".

Two big German riders will be there, however. Linus Gerdemann of Team Columbia and defending champion Jens Voigt of CSC have said that they will ride their homeland race.

BMX awaits Olympic destiny

By Greg Johnson

Sold out crowds watch riders get big air
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Bicycle Moto Cross is set to explode onto the Olympic Games this evening, with the high-thrill, frequent-spill cycling discipline landing a prime-time television slot in the United States of America. The broadcast slot not only plays towards the International Olympic Committee’s desire to reach the ‘Generation Y’ market, but also allows BMX World Cup winner Donny Robinson to vie for gold under the watchful eye of his compatriots.

The television coverage in the world’s biggest English speaking market is yet another coup for BMX. Over the past 40 years the sport has grown from a back-yard hobby and is now just hours away from the holy grail - its first Olympiad.

"A lot of people are drawing parallels to the impact that snowboarding has had on the winter games," said USA Cycling’s Andy Lee told "It translates to TV very easily. It's exciting. There's a lot of drama. There can be crashes."

Action in the eight-rider, knock-out competition that is BMX racing can be summed up in a word - Kamakazi. Of course, in a display that sums up the BMX punk market, that’s actually one of the competitor’s names. The Australian competitor formerly known as Jamie Hildebrandt changed his name to Kamakazi, spelt incorrectly to avoid association with suicide bombers, at the deed poll office some seven years ago. It’s a $280 investment the 27 year-old doesn’t regret making.

"It's nothing like what's in the Games at the moment," Kamakazi told The Age of his sport’s Olympic induction. "What we're doing, it's almost death-defying. If you crash, there's going to be broken bones, there's going to be skin off, there's going to be all sorts of mayhem. Anything can - and will - happen on this track."

Kamakazi joins a strong Australian squad at his sport’s Olympic debut. In its ranks is BMX World Cup runner up Jared Graves and sixth placed on world standings Luke Madill. Showing his dedication to the sport’s Olympic debut, Madill actually built a replica of the Beijing BMX track in his back yard, where the Australian team members have spent some time training.

As the top-ranked nation in the International Cycling Union’s (UCI) Elite Men’s standings, USA will be a strong contender in the men’s race. Robinson will be joined by North America rankings leader Kyle Bennett and the big name in American BMX Mike Day.

Continue to the full feature.

Argentina lands knockout blow early

By Laura Weislo with additional reporting from Rob Jones in Beijing

Perez and Curuchet (Argentina)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

The track events concluded with a surprise victory from the Argentinean duo of Walter Perez and Juan Curuchet in the Madison. With all eyes on the world champion British pair of Bradley Wiggins, already the winner of two Olympic gold medals in Beijing, and Mark Cavendish who is coming off four stages wins in the Tour de France, the unlikely pair slipped away early to steal a lap.

Argentina's winning margin was a slim one point over the Spanish duo of Joan Llaneras and Antonio Tauler, and two points ahead of the Russian pair Mikhail Ignatiev and Alexei Markov. They gained five points on their way to taking the lap, and then scored three more points with minor placings in two other sprints. "We made the first punch," explained Perez, "and the first punch counts twice."

The eight points the Argentineans gained was small when compared with the double digit scores of Denmark, Belgium, France and Germany, but as long as they could hold that one lap advantage, they still had a chance at the win. Russia and Spain both stole laps, but neither team could gain enough points to get over the South American duo.

"In the end, we were worried about Spain and Belgium, because we knew that if they gained a lap we could lose. Spain did get the lap, but it was late in the race and they had nothing left for the finish."

The Argentinean's last major success in the Madison came as a win the 2004 World Championships, but despite heading into Athens with that title, they only finished ninth that year.

An old proverb states "age and treachery will overcome youth and skill", and this certainly held true as 33-year-old Perez was the youngest of the gold and silver medal teams. Curuchet, 43, and Joan Llaneras, 39, will retire after the Olympic Games, and both will go home with gold medals to cap off long and successful careers. Llaneras took the win in the points race earlier in the week, which was his second Olympic gold after the points race win in Sydney eight years ago.

Complete coverage of the mens Olympic Madison final.

Sprints and Classics

By Susan Westemeyer

José Ivan Gutierrez will try to take advantage of his time trial skills again
Photo ©: Elmar Krings
(Click for larger image)

The Eneco Tour through the Netherlands and Belgium will be one for the sprinters, with such names as Tom Boonen (Quick Step), Juan Jose Haedo (CSC), and Robert Förster (Gerolsteiner) being featured among the speedy men. The Tour winds its way for 1,122.2 kilometres through the "Low Countries", and the riders will face everything from steep hills to the wind on the North Sea flats.

The race features all 18 ProTour teams plus two wildcard invitees, the Professional Continental teams Cycle Collstrop and Skil-Shimano. Jose Ivan Gutierrez of Caisse d'Epargne will look to defend his title from last year, but will face stiff opposition from such riders as Française des Jeux's Philippe Gilbert and Quick Step's Stijn Devolder.

The Tour opens with a flat 4.4-kilometre prologue in Sittard/Geleen in the Netherlands, before hitting the first Dutch climbs the next day. Thursday's Stage one runs 173,8 km from Beek to Roermond, and after only 12.4 km the riders will face the famous Cauberg, as the first of the day's three climbs.

The peloton keeps heading north in the second stage, from Roermond to Nieuwegein, over a flat 173.2 kilometres. From there they head south, from Nieuwegein to Terneuzen and will probably come into some cross wind - but not when they pass through the Westerschelde Tunnel, only 25 kilometers before the finish.

The fourth stage brings them across the border to Belgium and introduces three more climbs underway. It is also the race's longest stage, 212 kilometres from Terneuzen, Netherlands, to Ardooie, Belgium. The latter part of the stage will be familiar to Classics specialists, as it is has been used in the Ronde van Vlaanderen, the E3 Prijs and the Omloop Het Volk. The second climb is the Oude Kwaremont.

Monday's fifth stage from Ardooie to Oostende, 167 kilometres, should bring some more wind as it ends on the Belgian coast. The sixth stage is a rolling one, which combines the finales of the Ronde van Vlaanderen and the Brabantse Pijl on its 186 kilometres from Maldegem to Brussels.

The final decision may fall in the closing time trial, 18.3 kilometers through the historical city of Mechelen, on a flat city course.

The race's combination of sprint finishes and Spring Classics courses is a tough one which will demand an all-around performance to take the overall title.

Stayed tuned to Cyclingnews for more coverage of the Eneco Tour which starts today.

(Additional editorial assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer.)

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