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World Track Championships - CM
Melbourne, Australia, May 26-30, 2004
Day 5 Wrap:
The future is here
By Keith Esson
May 30, 2004: The 2004 Track Cycling World Championships at Melbourne's Vodafone Arena marked the changing of the guard. There is a new, young, men's sprint champion, a 20-year-old won the women's 500-metre time trial, a Cuban won the women's 10-kilometre scratch race and Argentina ended a run of near misses to snare the men's 50-kilometre Madison. And all this happened on the fifth and final day of competition.
Dutchman Theo Bos, 19, stepped into senior company fresh from last year's junior world kilometre championship. He gave notice of his potential by taking bronze in the senior kilo event earlier in these championships and had everyone taking notice as he progressed through the prolonged process of deciding the blue ribband sprint title.
In yesterday's quarter-finals (see report and photos) he fell twice in his duel with Englishman Jamie Staff before progressing and he was feeling the effects today. "When I woke up today I could barely walk. It was so painful but riding the bike was OK,'' he said.
The world championship is due reward for dedication. "I live for my sport and I don't do any crazy things during the season. It's serious training every day,'' he said.
His world crown came at the expense of defending champion, Frenchman Laurent Gane who also won in 1999. The bronze medal went to Ryan Bayley and the Australian certainly believes in giving the crowd value for money. He took Bos to three heats in the semi-finals and he had to win the third heat against Pole Damian Zielinski to secure the bronze medal. (See full report and photos of the men's sprint finals.)
Australian Anna Meares is another young star on the rise.Yesterday she had to settle for silver in the women's sprint behind defending Russian Svetlana Grankovskya but today she became a world champion (see report and photos). Seeded mid-field Meares produced a personal best to stop the clock at 34.342 seconds for the 500-metres time trial but then had to wait while eight other riders, including last year's gold medalist Natallia Tsylinskaya (Belarus) tried and failed to go under the Queenslander's time.
Three new faces were seen on the podium, Meares, China's Yonghua Jiang (34.675) and Lithuanian, Simona Krupecaite (34.788). For Meares, who broke into tears when she realized she had become world champion, it had been a tense wait. "I just wanted to hide," she said. "I couldn't sit down but I couldn't stay on the rollers because I thought I would fall off. "I didn't want to look at the scoreboard but I knew from the crow's reaction I had it.'' Meares felt surprisingly good going into the time trial despite "hard, hard racing'' the previous night in the sprint. "I was just going for broke,'' she said but the win was still a surprise. "I probably expected it to happen in another one or two years but for it to happen now is surreal."
Thrills and spills were the order of the day in what became a history making women's 10-kilometre scratch race (see report and photos). Inside the final kilometre, Korean, Sung Eun Gu and Mexican Belem Guerrero fell and two laps later Australia's Rochelle Gilmore, silver medalist at the previous two championships and Spaniard, Gema Pascual Torrecilla also crashed out. Gilmore was taken to hospital for precautionary X-rays on an injured shoulder.
Back on the track Cuba's Yoanka Gonzalez Perez was creating cycling history, going to the front in the last lap to win and become her country's first senior world track champion. Canadian Mandy Poitras took the silver medalist leaving defending champion, Olga Slyusareva (Belarus) with the bronze.
Argentina also created history with a break through win in the 50-kilometres men's Madison (see report and photos). Juan Esteban Curuchet and Walter Perez combined to take the gold medal ahead of defending Swiss champions, Franco Marvulli and Bruno Ris with Dutch duo, Roberts Slippens and Danny Stam taking the bronze medal, one point clear of Australians, Mark Renshaw and Luke Roberts. The Argentineans and the Swiss had early taken a lap but Curuchet and Perez has amassed two more sprint points than the Swiss pairing.
The gold medal was long overdue for the Argentineans as they had picked up a silver medal when the event was introduced to the championship program in 1995 and five bronze medals, including the previous four, before today's overdue win. The championships are over for 2004 but it's not long to wait before the next ones in Los Angles next March.