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28th Olympic Games - JO
Athens, Greece, August 14-28, 2004
August 25: Men's Madison
Australians repeat in Athens
By Jeff Jones
The Australian team of Stuart O'Grady and Graeme Brown successfully defended the Olympic madison title won by Scott McGrory and Brett Aitken in Sydney four years ago. The madison has only been an Olympic event twice and Australia showed tactical savvy and great strength to win the gold for the second time in succession. In second place was the Swiss team of Franco Marvulli and Bruno Risi, who clinched the silver medal by winning the final sprint ahead of Australia. The bronze went to Great Britain, who recovered from a crash by Rob Hayles to take enough points to put them on the podium, even though they were beaten for silver by the late-charging Swiss.
Graeme Brown was delighted with his second gold medal of the meet after winning the team pursuit three days ago. "The last few days were great: three fabulous days with one world record and two gold medals," said the upbeat Sydneysider.
The choice of Stuart O'Grady as Brown's partner turned out to be an inspired selection, as O'Grady used his incredible stamina and recovery to close down all the moves that were dangerous to the Australians, meanwhile taking sprint points whenever the opportunity arose. Together with another six teams, the Aussies finished a lap up on the field, and their 22 points were more than enough to give them gold ahead of Switzerland on 15 points and Britain on 12.
How it unfolded
18 teams took the start of the 50 km race, which was held over 200 laps of the Athens velodrome with sprints (5, 3, 2, 1 points) every 20 laps. Unlike the points race, any team lapping the field is automatically ahead of the rest, no matter what the points scored are.
The bunch stayed together for the first sprint, which was won by Great Britain ahead of Austria, the Netherlands and Belgium. Immediately after, the Uruguayan team attacked with Milton Wynants and Tomas Margalef trying to gain a lap on the field. The Ukrainians (Volodymyr Rybin and Vasyl Yakovlev) chased them down and caught them just before the second sprint, with Ukraine getting the 5 points ahead of Uruguay, New Zealand and the Czech Republic.
The Aussies had not figured in the action up until this point but once the peloton closed the gap to the two leaders, Graeme Brown put in a strong counter attack which only the German team of Robert Bartko and Guido Fulst could match. Brown slung O'Grady in and over the next few laps the two teams extended their advantage over the rest of the field. A missed sling by the Aussies gave the Germans the 5 points in the third sprint, but O'Grady and Brown recovered to work with the Germans to lap the field before the fourth sprint.
Germany was now leading the race with 5 points to the Australians' 3, but Brown moved up for the fourth sprint and slung O'Grady in at the right time to take the win from the Colombians, Kazakhstan and Russia. The Australians were now a lap up on the field and leading on points, and could afford to ride a more defensive race.
Brown and O'Grady decided that the best means of defense was attack, and again put pressure on the field as the race approached halfway. But this time they were given no quarter, and instead it was the Ukrainians who counter-attacked successfully and took a lap. The same tactic was tried by the Argentineans, but it "only" netted them the 5 points for the fifth sprint ahead of the consistent British team, the Austrians and the Czech Republic.
The Swiss team of Bruno Risi and Franco Marvulli then decided that it was time and launched a superb effort to lap the field, which was partially broken up when Slippens (Ned) and Hayles (GBr) crashed. Fortunately both riders were not seriously hurt and were able to get back in after a few laps.
After the Risi closed the gap to the back of the peloton, Spaniard Joan Llaneras accelerated off the front to take the points for the sixth sprint ahead of Germany, Australia and Ukraine. The New Zealand team of Hayden Roulston and Greg Henderson, which had been relatively quiet thus far, took the opportunity to counter-attack and they too were able to take a lap. But the Aussies were still well in control, marking the teams that were the closest to them on points and laps.
A crash by a Colombian rider did nothing to disrupt the seventh sprint, where Slovakia took the points ahead of a watchful Graeme Brown, with Austria and Germany rounding out the top four. The Aussies then decided to go on the offensive again and launched another blistering attack that only Germany and the Ukraine could follow. The three teams worked together to put pressure on the field which regrouped in time for the eighth sprint. This time it was the Swiss taking the top points with Australia again in second place ahead of Spain and the Ukraine.
It was now crunch time for the rest of the field as the Aussies had an almost unassailable lead on points and were a lap up with five other teams (Switzerland, Germany, Ukraine, Spain and New Zealand). Spain tried to take another lap but O'Grady was right there, not allowing them to get clear. The British, now recovered from the crash, then put in a powerful bid to take a lap with Hayles and Wiggins succeeding just before the ninth sprint. At the front of the field it was the Swiss taking the points again ahead of the Aussies with Belgium and Ukraine in third and fourth.
20 laps and one more sprint to go and the fight was on to gain another lap. Roulston tried for New Zealand and was marked by Spain and Australia, with the Germans realising the danger and closing the gap. While the Aussies had the gold medal sewn up, the British were in the silver medal position ahead of the Swiss, and it all hinged on the last sprint.
New Zealand tried again with 10 laps to go but again it came together with the Ukraine doing the chasing. With three laps to go, the Colombians hit the front with Brown shadowing in second wheel. Then Risi flew up the outside to hit the lead with 2 to go, slinging his partner Marvulli in on the last lap for him to take the final sprint and give the Swiss the silver. O'Grady was on Marvulli's wheel across the line for second place, clenching his fist after realising that the gold medal belonged to the Aussies again.
Images by www.epicimages.us
Images by AFP Photo
1 Australia 22 pts Graeme Brown Stuart O'Grady 2 Switzerland 15 Franco Marvulli Bruno Risi 3 Great Britain 12 Rob Hayles Bradley Wiggins 4 Germany 9 Robert Bartko Guido Fulst 5 Ukraine 9 Volodymyr Rybin Vasyl Yakovlev 6 Spain 7 Miquel Alzamora Joan Llaneras 7 New Zealand 2 Greg Henderson Hayden Roulston 1 lap behind 8 Austria 8 Roland Garber Franz Stocher 9 Argentina 5 Juan Esteban Curuchet Walter Perez 10 Uruguay 3 Tomas Margalef Milton Wynants 11 Belgium 3 Matthew Gilmore Iljo Keisse 12 Czech Republic 2 Milan Kadlec Petr Lazar 13 Kazakhstan 2 Ilya Chernyshov Yuriy Yuda 14 Netherlands 2 Robert Slippens Danny Stam 15 Slovakia 5 Martin Liska Jozef Zabka 16 Colombia 3 Leonardo Duque Jose Rodolfo Serpa 17 Russia 1 Oleg Grishkin Alexey Shmidt DNF France Jerome Neuville Matthieu Ladagnous