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29th Olympic Games - JO
Beijing, China, August 9-23, 2008
Event 25 - August 18: Women's Points Race Final
Vos comes good, gets gold
By Laura Weislo
Dutch rider Marianne Vos came into the Olympics points race final as the favourite, and despite having that target on her back she was able to escape the field and take a lap to seal her gold medal. Vos had been disappointed to finish out of the medals in both road events, and was determined to make up for it in her final event of the Games.
Vos, who is the world champion in the points race, was the only rider to take a lap. She escaped the field before the seventh sprint, and the 20 point bonus added to a first, second and third in three of the ten sprints put the 21-year-old in an unbeatable 30 point lead. Her first Olympic gold medal will go in her trophy case next to the three world championship jerseys she's won in three different disciplines: track, cyclo-cross and on the road.
Yoanka Gonzalez of Cuba won the silver medal by taking three sprints and placing in two others to earn 18 points. She was tied on points with Colombian Maria Luisa Calle before escaping in the final lap to win the last sprint. Spaniard Leire Olaberria took second in the final sprint to tie Calle on points, and her better finishing position earned bronze on the tie-breaker, while Vos finished safely in the bunch to take gold.
The race was interrupted by a crash after the second sprint which took down Sarah Hammer (USA), Wadami Satomi (Japan), Verena Jooss (Germany) and Trine Schmidt (Denmark). Only Schmidt was able to continue.
How it unfolded
The race got off to a fast start thanks to a second lap attack by Sarah Hammer (USA) and China's Yan Li. The pair held a 1/3 lap advantage for several laps, but the fresh legs and medal ambitions of the field quickly ended their time at the front. The move was countered by Svetlana Pauliukaite (Lithuania), who gained a half lap before being joined by Vos and Olaberria.
Vos took the first sprint ahead of Olaberria and Pauliukaite, while back in the field, Australia's Katherine Bates had attacked for the final point, and was on her way to join the leading trio. She was followed by the attentive Gonzalez, who took the second sprint from this leading group ahead of Vos and Olaberria.
The break was caught shortly after the sprint, and as the riders jockeyed for position, Pauliukaite drifted up track causing a chain-reaction shift which took out the front wheel of Japan's Satomi. She fell and slid down the track into the path of Trine Schmidt (Denmark) and Jooss. Hammer, left with nowhere to go but up and over the pile of fallen women, landed hard and was out of the race. China's Yan Li was able to avoid falling, but had to unclip and ride onto the apron. Schmidt and Li rejoined the peloton while the others received medical attention.
During the chaos, Colombian Maria Luise Calle attacked and gained half a lap, taking the third sprint just before being caught by the field, led by Pascale Jeuland (France) and Lada Kozlikova (Czech Republic). The sprint was countered by pursuit gold medallist Rebecca Romero (Great Britain), who was joined by Evelyn Garcia (El Salvador), but the peloton was back together by the next sprint, which was won by Lesya Kalitovska (Ukraine).
Yan Li (China) took the fifth sprint after a failed breakaway from Schmidt and New Zealander Catherine Cheatley. Romero was back on the attack ahead of sprint six, and was joined again by Calle, who took the maximum points to tie Vos at ten points. Gonzalez picked up two more points from the field to bring herself into a tie for third with Kalitovska.
With the halfway point past, the field was beginning to tire, and all it took was a brief pause and a shift up track by the bunch to swing the door wide open to the winning attack by Vos. She launched her move from the inside and only Hong Kong's Wan Yiu Wong reponded, but she could not hold the wheel of the flying Dutchwoman.
As the rest of the riders drew straws to see who would have to chase, Vos quickly took her lap just as a move went clear with Gina Grain (Canada), Bates, Calle and Italy's Vera Carrera. Bates took the sprint, but could not coax her companions into continuing the move, and the race was all back together and Vos was in the lead with 30 points.
With her nearest competitor, Calle, at 12 points with three sprints remaining, the Dutch woman had the race sewn up as long as nobody else could escape the field and take the 20 point lap bonus. Vos withstood attacks from Carrera, Romero and Cheatley, and for sprint number eight, the field was again all together.
Gonzalez took the eighth sprint ahead of Olaberria and Kalitovska to pull ahead of Calle with 13 points, while Olaberria was now tied with the Ukrainian with ten. Trine Schmidt (Denmark) attacked again and had a strong lead before Vos herself came to the front and nailed her back, setting up the penultimate sprint which was taken by the Russian, Olga Slyusareva.
Bates took second in the sprint to put three women all at ten points, while Calle snuck in for fourth and one point to tie with Gonzalez. Vos, assured of victory went to the front to keep the pace high and discourage any further attacks before pulling off just before the final sprint. The Cuban took the lead from the bell and never let go, taking the maximum points to secure silver, while Olaberria snuck in for third to tie with Calle on points.
Because the Spaniard's position in the final sprint was higher than Calle's, who finished eighth, she was awarded the bronze medal. Vos finished safely toward the back of the field and was able to celebrate her gold medal with arms aloft and a shout of joy.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by AFP Photo
Images by Casey Gibson/www.cbgphoto.com
Images by Rob Jones/www.canadiancyclist.com
Images by Greg Chang/PhotoSport International
1 Marianne Vos (Netherlands) 30 pts 2 Yoanka Gonzalez (Cuba) 18 3 Leire Olaberria (Spain) 13 4 Maria Luisa Calle (Colombia) 13 5 Lesya Kalitovska (Ukraine) 10 6 Katherine Bates (Australia) 10 7 Pascale Jeuland (France) 8 8 Olga Slyusareva (Russia) 8 9 Gina Grain (Canada) 6 10 Yan Li (China) 6 11 Rebecca Romero (Great Britain) 3 12 Svetlana Pauliukaite (Lithuania) 2 13 Lada Kozlikova (Czech Republic) 2 14 Vera Carrara (Italy) 1 15 Wan Yiu Wong (Hong Kong) 16 Evelyn Garcia (El Salvador) 17 Catherine Cheatley (New Zealand) 18 Trine Schmidt (Denmark) 19 Minhye Lee (Korea) -40 DNF Sarah Hammer (United States) DNF Satomi Wadami (Japan) DNF Verena Jooss (Germany)