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World Track Championships - CM
Melbourne, Australia, May 26-30, 2004
Men's Individual Pursuit first round
Escobar to face Hayles in final
Roberts seeks bronze consolation
By Mal Sawford
Spanish rider Sergi Escobar, the fastest qualifier from last night, produced another fast ride despite much cooler conditions to move through to the gold medal final tonight. His time of 4:19.908 was only a fraction of a second outside last night's time, and is a full two seconds faster than any other competitor at these championships.
Joining him in the final will be Britain's Rob Hayles, while Germany's Robert Bartko produced something special to vault into the bronze medal final. Bartko's time of 4:22.708 was almost a second quicker than his fifth place qualifying ride, and moved him into the finals where he will ride against Australian Luke Roberts.
Overnight third place qualifier Paul Manning led by a narrow margin for much of his ride against Bartko, but was overhauled in the final kilometre, and lost ground rapidly to finish with a disappointing time of 4:25.041, over three seconds slower than his qualification ride.
With the top four finishers guaranteeing a second position for their nation at the Olympics, Manning was reportedly devastated with the result, while Roberts, the Silver Medallist in both the 2002 and 2003 World Championships was very satisfied with his efforts.
Roberts had had a rough night after last night's late session, which finished after 10pm. After a very late dinner it was after midnight before he turned in, but got little sleep before his 7am wakeup call.
Roberts said his aim had been to gain an additional spot for Australia at the Athens Olympics, "and being the silver medalist the last couple of years I was pretty determined to come away with the gold medal but unfortunately I wasn't going as well as I thought I might have been. I guess now riding off for the bronze medal still a pretty good chance to win Bronze so I'll come out tonight and see what I can do and still come away with a medal."
Was he concerned about his form?
"No, the results I've been getting on the road the last few months, I thought I was in top form, but coming back to the track, and not riding as well as I thought I might have, I can se what I've done differently. I might have been going better on the road, but I haven't got that extra little bit on the track. It's something else I've learned now, so building up for Athens I should be better again.
Might his form affect the Australian team pursuit squad's chances?
"No the times we've been doing in training are probably as good as any team we've put on the track, I think the Team Pursuit is going to be as strong as ever. My own form is not as good as it could be but it's still right up there."
Images by Mark Gunter
Heat 1 1000m (position) 2000m 3000m 4000m 1 Luke Roberts (Australia) 1.10.879 (2) 2.15.600 (2) 3.19.917 (2) 4.24.384 (54.466km/h) 2 Volodymyr Dyudya (Ukraine) 1.08.468 (1) 2.12.479 (1) 3.18.335 (1) 4.25.510 (54.235km/h) Heat 2 1 Robert Bartko (Germany) 1.09.905 (2) 2.14.344 (2) 3.18.769 (2) 4.22.702 (54.814km/h) 2 Paul Manning (Great Britain) 1.09.609 (1) 2.13.951 (1) 3.18.645 (1) 4.25.041 (54.331km/h) Heat 3 1 Robert Hayles (Great Britain) 1.09.151 (1) 2.13.292 (1) 3.17.674 (1) 4.22.045 (54.952km/h) 2 Christian Lademann (Germany) 1.09.759 (2) 2.14.738 (2) 3.20.844 (2) 4.29.664 (53.399km/h) Heat 4 1 Sergi Escobar Roure (Spain) 1.07.967 (1) 2.11.423 (1) 3.15.393 (1) 4.19.908 (55.404km/h) 2 Fabien Sanchez (France) 1.10.057 (2) 2.15.625 (2) 3.23.533 (2) ovr