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The current time in Athens is 21:36 on September 23, 2023
Olympic 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
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.
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.
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;
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)