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2006 Commonwealth Games - JR
Melbourne, Australia, March 16-26, 2006
March 18: Mens 4,000m team pursuit
English class and experience shine through
By Mal Sawford in Melbourne
Despite a brave effort by a young Australian team, the powerful English team was too strong in the gold medal ride off at the Commonwealth games, ending the home team's streak of four consecutive wins.
Peter Dawson sat out the qualifying ride, but came into the Aussie team for the final, replacing Ashley Hutchinson. Demonstrating the unity in the Australian team, Hutchinson filled the same role as Dawson had in the heat, helping Wooldridge mount his machine on the start line.
The Aussies went out hard, and were behind by half a second at the end of the first lap, and a full second after the first kilometre. Through the second kilometre, the English squad picked up the pace, and was 1.8 seconds up at the halfway mark. From there, the margin grew steadily, with both teams in the same straight for the final four laps, England eventually hitting the line in 4.02.600, to Australia's 4.05.494. Both teams finished with all four riders.
As expected, the bronze medal race was a formality for the vastly more experienced and stronger team from New Zealand. Peter Latham replaced Jason Allen for the ride, which saw the plucky Malaysians fly out of the blocks and lead for the first three laps, before the Kiwi's were up to top speed. Once they were, they rapidly closed the half lap deficit, catching their opponents just past the half way mark.
England's Chris Newton was very pleased with the win, but felt it was a little early to start celebrating. "With World's coming up we can't celebrate too much. We're getting back into endurance training with the road race next week; then it's back for world's before the road season starts. I think the road race will be anyone's race, although the Aussies have a real chance because they have a really strong squad. I guess we could pack up and head home now but it'll be good to stay and ride the road race."
Stephen Wooldridge, the 'elder' statesman of the Australian team was philosophical in defeat. "We wanted to win; we always want to win and wanted to win this time - I don't think we should be disgraced by our ride tonight. We put it to them as much as we could - we've got two young guys in the team, and we're starting another generation of team pursuit. We got third at World's, second tonight, and we've got a lot of great talent - we just need a bit of fine tuning. The reign we had from 2000 through to the last Olympics didn't happen overnight, so this is exciting for us. We'll keep doing what we're doing and hopefully we'll have another battle in three weeks time at world championships."
The other experienced rider for the Aussies, Peter Dawson, is also optimistic for the World's, and said, "As a young team we were on them and hopefully they've peaked too early [for World's] - I think we're still on the rise. I can't fault that ride; we were all very smooth, and in training the last few weeks we've been working on going fast and smooth."
Qualifying - World's top three teams in Comm Games pursuit
Although there were only five teams for the team’s pursuit, the final three starters are arguably the best three in the world. The New Zealand quartet of Jason Allen, Hayden Godfrey, Tim Gudsell and Marc Ryan were the third team to ride and started strongly, but lost a little time in the final two laps. Already down to three riders, Godfrey blew while in second wheel costing the team at least a second of valuable time as they struggled to the line to stop the clock in 4.07.307.
Reigning world champions England were next up, and had brought their four strongest riders to Melbourne. Chris Newton joined the three individual pursuit medalists Paul Manning, Rob Hayles and Stephen Cummings, and although unable to live up to pre race suggestions that were targeting a sub four minute ride, the foursome recorded a slick 4.05.248, a quarter of a second faster than their winning 2005 world championships time.
The Australian team by contrast included only two of the riders, Ashley Hutchinson and Stephen Wooldridge, who have ridden in Australia’s recent Olympic and world title successes. Newcomers Matt Goss and Mark Jamieson joined the starting four, with ‘Jamo’ to lead out, while Peter Dawson, who rode in support of Sean Finning’s points race win the night before, was on hand only to carry Wolldridge’s bike to the start line. A false start didn’t rattle the Aussies, who got off to a flying start, and were one second up on the English team after the first kilometre. From there, however, they steadily lost ground, falling behind at 1750 metres, and finishing a little over a second behind at the finish.
The stage is set for an exciting final tonight between the home team and England, while New Zealand is virtually guaranteed the bronze medal against Malaysia, who qualified a distant seventeen seconds slower than the Kiwi’s.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Rob Jones/www.canadiancyclist.com
Images by Shane Goss/www.licoricegallery.com
Images by AFP Photo
Men's team pursuit qualifying 1 England 4.05.248 (58.716km/h) Stephen Cummings Rob Hayles Paul Manning Chris Newton 2 Australia 4.06.522 (58.413km/h) Matthew Goss Ashley Hutchinson Mark Jamieson Stephen Wooldridge 3 New Zealand 4.07.307 (58.227km/h) Jason Allen Hayden Godfrey Timothy Gudsell Marc Ryan 4 Malaysia 4.24.496 (54.443km/h) Amirrudin Jamaludin Mohd Zahit. Mohd Sayuti Muhammad Fauzan Ahmad Lufti Weng Kim Thum 5 South Africa 4.29.364 (53.459km/h) Durwan Benjamin Jeremy Paul Maartens Rupert Rheeder Garth Conrad Thomas Final for bronze 1 New Zealand Jason Allen Hayden Godfrey Timothy Gudsell Marc Ryan 2 Malaysia caught Amirrudin Jamaludin Mohd Zahit. Mohd Sayuti Muhammad Fauzan Ahmad Lufti Weng Kim Thum Final for gold 1 England 4.02.699 (59.333km/h) Stephen Cummings Rob Hayles Paul Manning Chris Newton 2 Australia 4.05.494 (58.657km/h) Matthew Goss Peter Dawson Mark Jamieson Stephen Wooldridge