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Day 1: Four gold medals to Australia
(Dunc Gray Velodrome, Sydney. May 10, 2002)
By Karen Forman
THERE'S a lot to be said about the advantages of competing on your home turf.
Take, for example, the first night of the second round of the 2002 UCI Track World Cup at Sydney's Olympic velodrome. Not only did Australia take the first medal of the three-day event - in the men's individual pursuit (see full results and report) - but it happened to be a gold one. The predominantly Australian crowd roared their congratulations when Perth rider Peter Dawson showed he still had an excellent form for the track after winning the national individual pursuit title there three weeks previously.
And then, showing that Dawson wasn't the only one feeling good on the track and in front of the home-country crowd, Adelaide rider Sean Eadie took the gold in the men's keirin (see results and report).
Two out of two. Not bad . . .
But the girls weren't to be outdone. Another South Australian, Rosealee Hubbard, won the next final - the women's keirin in a dynamic one-two with Australian team mate, Michelle Ferris. Three finals . . . and three gold medals to Australia. No wonder national AIS-Cycling Australia track Martin Barras was wandering around the in-field with a huge smile on his face.
But there was no stopping there. Sydney rider Mark Renshaw took Australia's fourth gold in the 30km men's points race after leading all the way.
After that there were only two finals left for the day - the women's individual pursuit and the men's team sprint.
As for the women's IP, well, the adage is that "you have to be in it to win it" and there weren't any Australians in the final.
However, with winner Sarah Ulmer coming from New Zealand, there were plenty of spectators who thought that given that country's close proximity and relations with Australia, it was the next best thing (see results and report).
That left the men's team sprint - but there the Australians faced the emerging track squad from Greece, and this time the Greek riders claimed the bronze ahead of the Australian team comprising Ryan Bayley, Danny Day and Ben Kersten. The Greek squad of Lampros Vasilopoulos, Kleanthis Bargas and Dimitris Georgalis did their three laps in 46.249, nearly four-tenths of a second faster than the Australians.Then in the main event for Gold, there was another relative upset, with Great Britain's team of Chris Hoy, Alwyn Mcmath and Andy Slater posting a 46.038, just in front of the favourites, France, who were .03 seconds behind. While the French were given a great first lap by Arnaud Tournant, the Brits gained time in the second and third laps. Afterwards, it was a very disappointed Tournant who acquainted himself with several chairs in the infield.
The Sydney round of the World Cup comes hot on the heels of the first round, held in Monterey, Mexico in April. The third round will be held in Moscow from May 31 to June 2, the fourth round in Cali (Col) from June 21 to 23 and the final round gets underway in Kunming on August 9 to 11.
Apart from anything else, the World Cup gives the competing Commonwealth countries a chance to size each other up for the Manchester Commonwealth Games in August-September.
While the first session of the Australian round this morning was taken up with the nuts and bolts of qualifying and repecharges for the mens and womens keirins and qualifying for the mens and womens individual pursuits, tonight's session provided some exciting action for riders and spectators alike.
Another large crowd is expected tomorrow for a program divided into two sessions - morning and evening. Highlights will include the mens sprint qualifying, round one and repechage; qualifying, 1/8 final and repecharge of the womens sprint; qualifying of the mens team pursuit (morning) and 1/8 final (evening): the repechage and quarter final of the mens sprint; the quarter final of the womens sprint; final of the mens team pursuit; the final of the womens scratch race; the final of the mens scratch race; and the final of the womens 500 metre time trial.