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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

World Junior Track Championships - CM

Los Angeles, USA, July 28-August 1, 2004

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Day 1 - July 28: Men Individual Pursuit qual, Men Kilometer t.t., Men Scratch 10 km, Women Points race 20 km


Amanda Spratt (Australia)
Photo ©: Kristy Scrymgeour/Cyclingnews.com

After a successful morning in the Men's 3000m pursuit qualifiers, the Australian team took the first gold medal of the 2004 Junior World Championships this evening, when young sixteen year old Amanda Spratt rode to victory in the women's points race. Following this, the men took to the track with German sprinter Maximilian Levy surprising himself for a very emotional start to his week, taking the Gold medal in the men's kilo and finally it was Great Britain rider Geraint Thomas who took his first ever World Championship title in the men's scratch.

The evening started with festivities to open the Championships, as riders from local clubs lead representatives from each country onto the track for the opening ceremony. Over the next five days 194 riders from 33 nations will participate in the championships on the brand new indoor track in California.

The women's points race saw Spratt dominate the early sprints by means of leading them out and holding off riders with her fast pace. Midway through the race Korean rider Choe Sun Ae went on the attack taking Kimberly Geist (USA) with her. Eventually the pace of the Korean was too strong for Geist and she fell of the wheel and got caught by the chasers. With a few laps to go Florence Girardet (France) made a very smart move and bridged to the gap to Sun Ae enabling her to take enough points to move into third place by the end. Sun Ae took second place and Spratt safely finished in the bunch to take the win.

Spratt was ecstatic when Cyclingnews caught up with her after the race. She had made multiple calls to her family back in New South Wales, Australia and said that it "still hadn't sunk in yet." Spratt said she went into the race wanting to "concentrate of keeping good position and not panicking. Gary [Sutton] told me to do everything that I would normally do in a race and not to think about it being an international race. That really helped me to relax," she added. Spatt, who comes from a long generation of cyclists said she is looking forward to celebrating the medal, "but right now I have to refocus for the pursuit tomorrow."

Exhausted after her ride was Sun Ae, but extremely happy to take second place in the event. This being her first ever race on an indoor track, Sun Ae said she felt good and "tried not to think about getting caught."

In the men's kilo German rider Maximilian Levy was one of the ealier starters of the day and came out and blitzed the fastest time setting himself up as the man to beat. Conisistently riders went out fast after him with promise to surpass his time, including his teammate Benjamin Wittmann, but all proceeded to fall off the pace in the last lap, leaving Levy as the winner at the end of the event.

Levy was very emotional after the race exclaiming to cyclingnews that it was "an awesome feeling" to become a Junior World Champion. "It's the greatest moment of my life." Levy added that his primary event is the sprint and so to win this race is like "the icing on the cake. In my heart I am a sprinter," he added, "I am very surprised to win this."

Starting cycling in 1996 on the road, Levy is now 17 years of age with two years experience on the track. "I wasn't good in the mountains," he said, "so I went to the track."

The final event for the evening was the men's 10km scratch race, which started at a blistering pace with Pavel Korzh making the first attack of the day. When the Russian went he sparked a following and Luis Mansilla (Chile), Kyle Swain (Russia), Alexandru Pliuschin (Moldavia) and Thomas went with him. Shortly after Adam Coker (New Zealand) and Joo Hyun Wook (Korea) bridged together to reach the front five and in an impressive move Raf‚a Chtioui (Tunisia) soloed across making the break eight riders.

The break worked well together, but eventually Chtiuoi and the originator of the break Korzh were dropped and the remaining six riders lapped the field with 17 laps remaining. With seven laps to go Pliuschin attacked but was quickly reeled in and with two to go Patrick Kos (Netherlands) tried to go, but the race ended in a sprint with Thomas taking the honours, followed by Mansilla and Pliuschin.

Thomas said he felt "awesome" out on the track. "I did the pursuit in the morning," he explained, "and I think it opened up my legs up." Thomas added that when the Russian attacked, he knew he had to go. "He beat me in the European Championships this year so I knew I had to watch him." Finally after lapping the field Thomas was confident in the sprint but was watching the quick South African. Silver medal winner Mansilla was very happy with a medal, considering his goal was simply to "finish in a good position."

Going with the early move, Mansilla said that he too "was watching the South African rider. My coach told me to keep an eye on his, so I went and then I just kept it going. I just wanted to keep it going."

Tomorrow morning the men are back for the first round of the 3km pursuit and the keirin and the women race their 2km pursuit qualifiers. The evening will the see the second round and the final of the men's keirin, the women's 500m and the men's pursuit final.