|Cyclingnews TV News Tech Features Road MTB BMX Cyclo-cross Track Photos Fitness Letters Search Forum|
2006 UCI Track Cycling World Championships - CM
France, April 13-16, 2006
Day 3 - April 15: Men's sprint 200m qualifying, 1/16 final , 1/8 final, repechages, 1/4 finals & 5th to 8th; Men's team pursuit qualifying & finals; Men's scratch 7.5 km qualifying & 15 km final; Women's sprint 1/2 finals & finals
Upsets galore on day 3
By Mal Sawford in Bordeaux
Mens scratch race
The first action in the 60-lap scratch race came 15 laps in, when Frances Jerome Neuville attacked to the delight of the partisan crowd. Miles Olman (Australia), Andreas Muller (Germany) and Taiji Nishitni (Japan) followed, and the four riders began to edge away. Mark Cavendish (Great Britain) tried to jump across the gap, but his acceleration allowed the bunch to latch on with 40 laps remaining.
Almost immediately, Ioannis Tamouridis (Greece) and Martin Gilbert (Canada) counter attacked. Neuville was quick to follow, as were Ivan Kovalev (Russia), Matthew Gilmore (Belgium), Oleksandr Polivoda (Ukraine), Rafal Ratajczyk (Poland), Bobby Lea (USA) and Angel Colla (Argentina). Five laps later, the big break lost rhythm, and the bunch, powered by defending champion Alex Rasmussen (Denmark) came back into contact.
Just as the field regrouped, Neuville kicked again, and raced clear with Tamouridis, Vasilis Kiryienka (Bielorussia) and Colla. The quartet was quickly up by half a lap, but couldnt extend their lead any further. Cavendish made a huge effort and bridged to the leaders with 22 laps remaining, but the effort clearly hurt him. He eventually cracked completely and lost contact ten laps from home.
In the final laps, it was touch and go whether the break could hold on as the bunch wound up. Tamouridis threw in a series of hard turns to give the break breathing space, but a final burst from Danilo Napolitano (Italy) saw the bunch reach the back of the break in the final bend. It was a little too late, however, as Neuville had already wound up his massive gear and was headed for the line. Colla surged into contention in the final metres, with the two hitting the line together. Colla thought hed just pipped the front runner, saying, I thought that I had won for a few laps afterwards, because it was so close. When the photo finally confirmed the French rider had triumphed ahead of Tamouridis and Colla, the stadium erupted.
For Neuville; the race went exactly to plan. I wanted to race at the front, and tried to go in every break. I was trying to take a lap, but it was a surprise to stay out front so long with only four riders and the bunch so close. The French rider also admitted he hadnt been operating at full power. I felt very tight in my legs, so I tried to take as short turns at the front as possible. I also rode a very big gear today [49x14], much bigger than I normally use. I was a little afraid it would be too big, but Im under pressure from my team mates to get a result because Im so old [at 30!] they call me the Master. I have to get results now; there may not be a later! The crowd was great, they helped, but Im glad the race finished - one more lap would have been impossible.
Womens sprint finals
Top seed Natallia Tsylinskaya (Belarus) and defending champion Vicky Pendleton (Great Britain) made it through to the gold medal final, after Tsylinskaya won in 'straight sets' against Clara Sanchez (France), and Pendleton was too good for Guo. The impressive Tsylinskaya simply had too much power for Pendleton in the medal round, winning the first heat with an unanswered surge, and while the second was closer, there was never any doubt that Tsylinskaya would win.
The bronze medal match was a little tighter, but Guo was still able to dictate both races for comfortable wins. Sanchez was still pleased with her fourth place finish, saying, I have exceeded my expectations in terms of my final position in the sprints. In the past I have reached the top eight, but to reach the top four and be in the chance of a medal was very good. I am disappointed I did not get a medal but to come this far is great for me, it's a real step forward. Tsylinskayas second win in Bordeaux left her with a very good feeling. Im more happy that now I can go home and show my medals to my daughter and husband. She denied it had been an easy win, however, saying, It was not so easy! It can be easy the first time, but not eight times!
Silver medallist Vicky Pendleton admitted she had no way of beating the world champion in her current form. Natallia is phenomenal. When shes on form theres no-one that really comes that close," said the English rider. "I think I did well to end up in the final after qualifying sixth; I was nearly half a second off her, which just shows what great form shes in really.
Pendleton did feel that she would have been closer if not for the disruption to her training caused by the Commonwealth Games. I didnt think it was going to be that hard - I thought it would be quite easy to maintain the form and the focus, but really that first week back is a real downer. You come out of competition and the athletes' village and in Manchester its cold, and its raining...'come on pick it up, we can do this', she said. "Its been quite hard for everyone to try and turn it around in such a short space of time. Give it another week and Im sure it would have been a different story; three weeks is one week to recover, one week on and one week to taper - it doesnt give you much time. I should be smiling, Ive got a silver at the worlds, but today it just wasnt out there for me to take I dont think."
Theo Bos continued to make sprinting look effortless, coming around Ryan Bayley in the final bend to win the first heat of the 1/8 finals. Also through were Craig Maclean, Mickael Bourgain, Maximillian Levy and Stefan Nimke. Ross Edgar and Arnaud Tournant hit the line together in the final heat and couldnt be separated, forcing them into a re-ride, which Tournant won. Damian Zielinski and Roberto Chiappa won the two repechage rounds to move into quarter finals, although in a bizarre co-incidence, Chiappa also faced a re-ride after judges declared the second dead heat in a matter of minutes.
In the quarter finals, Bos accounted for Chiappa in straight rides, and Edgar was far too quick for Zielinski. An all French match between Bourgain and Tournant saw Bourgain win in two, but Tournant earned his second warning for irregular riding in the second ride and was disqualified from the fifth to eighth place final. The final heat saw the German team mates do battle, with Nimke a convincing winner of both races.
Mens teams pursuit finals
All four finalists recorded significant improvements from their qualifying rides, with the Ukrainian team jumping the Dutch at the start, and holding on narrowly to win the bronze medal in 4.04.695. Most observers expected the gold medal match to go Great Britains way, with both coaches suggesting the defending champions were likely to continue their recent run of wins. Neither team changed line-ups for the final. At the start, however it was the Aussies who were fastest out of the blocks, leading by half a second after the first kilometre.
The British team gradually increased their tempo from that point, but were still 0.195 down at half way, before hitting the lead with one kilometre remaining. Both teams were down to three riders for the final two laps, and the lead changed at almost every time check. At the bell, it was Australia by a tiny margin, and both teams hit their finish lines together. All eyes turned to the scoreboard, which showed the win for the Aussies, whose third rider had stopped the clock at 4.01.491, compared to Great Britains 4.01.527.
In the qualifying rides, Australia had had the best time check at 3750 metres, but Britain had picked up almost a second over the final lap; however, in the final the Australians held on. According to Australian coach Ian McKenzie, it wasnt so much that the English had a mammoth last lap [in qualifying], it was more that we had a really poor last lap, so we put a strategy in place to try and eliminate that and it clearly worked. Replays indicated that the first rider for the British team actually hit the line before an Australian, but the winners hit the line side by side, while the British trio were still in pursuit formation. Macca was naturally happy to have his squad exceed expectations, The guys just rode above themselves, just typical Australians; when theres a race on the line and its that close, nine times out if ten you back the Australians.
Simon Jones admitted to being a little bit surprised with the result to be honest," saying, "I dont often like to think about the result generally, I like to think about our performance. I was actually more pleased there with our performance than I was at the Commonwealth Games, because we rode a really good pursuit." Jones explained that the British squad were beaten despite everything going to plan. "We didnt come out as quick - that was the plan. And we came home really fast; we were beaten by the better team and I genuinely believe that. Overall Im really pleased, but its gutting to lose, particularly to the Aussies! They rode a fantastic race though, it was close. It was a good race, he said.
The Australian riders put their upset win down to their outstanding team work and self belief. Mark Jamieson said after the finish that, I think we finally got it together. To me it just felt like wed finally put it all together; it wasnt confidence coming into the final so close, it was just belief in ourselves and our team mates that made the difference - its belief in ourselves. Stephen Wooldridge agreed, saying, What you see is were just getting better as a team, as a unit, and the unity and the technique is coming together, and thats what you saw today. I think that was a great time tonight. The starting four also singled out Ashley Hutchinson to be included in their success. Theres four guys here, but theres really five involved in this so thats a shame that they dont award five medals anymore. Ashley Hutchinson whos been here the whole time, the last five years, didnt get a ride tonight, but this victory is as much for him anyway, said Wooldridge.
For Rob Hayles, such a narrow loss was tough. Im gutted. We did the ride that we thought we needed to do, we did the best we could on the day and we said before the start if we do that and we get beaten then they deserve to win. The Aussie lads did a fantastic ride. Obviously the priority this year was the Commonwealth Games, but thats not to give any excuses for here - you come here and you still want to win.
Hayles still has his eyes firmly set on Olympic Gold in Beijing. I desperately want to go to Beijing. After that well see. Ill be 35 then, its not too old. Weve got some good youngsters coming through we still havent got the strength and depth that the Aussie team have got at the moment, but were getting there. Thats the only thing thatll stop me at the moment - younger lads - and that wouldnt be a bad thing all in all.
Morning session wrap up
Men's sprint qualifying and 1/16 finals
On another cool morning at the Bordeaux velodrome, the world's fastest sprinters posted some very impressive times, with the top six all under 10.2 seconds. Fastest of all was 2004 world champion Theo Bos, in 10.100 seconds; but at the other end of the scale was 2005 champion Rene Wolff who recorded the slowest time of all, 11.001. With a mammoth 43 starters, the top 24 progressed through to the 1/16 finals, and apart from Wolff, all the favourites advanced.
The 1/16 finals generally saw the fastest seeded rider advance, the only exception was the defeat of French team sprint star, Gregory Bauge, who was beaten by Italian veteran Roberto Chiappa, much to the disgust of the vocal French crowd. Chiappa seemed to thrive on the crowd's disappointment, however, and let everyone know he was the number one rider on the track.
Men's team pursuit qualifying
The US team, made up of four members of the TIAA-CREF road team, were first up, and after a messy first kilometre settled into a better rhythm to record a time of 4.14.952. Team manager Jonathan Vaughters had flown in for the day to support the team and although he had hoped for a time around 4.10, was nonetheless pleased with the result.
"You know, it's their first world championships, their second team pursuit ever, so you know it was sloppy as hell, but they went reasonably fast." And Vaughters predicts better things to come. "Pretty much every time they're in competition they're going two seconds faster, so if we can just keep that up for another two years then they'll actually be a real honestly competitive team. It's encouraging enough to continue forward and to keep pushing at it. It's a tough event. Like I said, we've got a lot of horse power, but just no experience. Hopefully by the time we roll around to 2008, the experience and the fluidity will be there."
The first team under the 4.10 barrier was Germany, lead by individual pursuit winner Robert Bartko to a time of 4.07.873, but they were soon pushed from the top spot by the Ukrainian team's 4.07.165. Any chance of a competitive time from the world cup winning Russian team was lost with 500 metres remaining when Serguei Klimov lost contact, and then the three remaining riders split up badly on the final lap.
New Zealand fell just short of Ukraine's time, and they were followed by the Australian team, who matched the Ukrainian time checks to the half way point before lifting the tempo to finish well ahead with a time of 4.04.403. The young Netherlands team moved into second place behind the Aussies, but with the British team still to come, would eventually finish third, and will race for the bronze medal tonight against Ukraine.
The British team started quicker than the Australians, and were half a second up at the half way point, but lost time steadily, eventually falling almost the same margin behind with 500 metres to ride. Still 0.4 down at the bell, an impressive finishing burst saw them qualify fastest, in 4.04.074.
Both the Australian and British coaches were happy with their teams' rides. Australian endurance coach Ian McKenzie expects the British team to go even quicker in the gold medal match. "I think they have a little bit. They've got another rider that they can bring in, Chris Newton, so yeah, I think they've got a little bit," he said. "I think we go in as underdogs. Realistically, I think we're an outside chance."
British head coach Simon Jones agreed times will be quicker tonight. "Definitely," but where McKenzie expects only minor improvements ("Well, if we do [go faster], it'll be by not much"), Jones is more confident. "I'm not really going to really worry about the time, just going to look at the technique and see where we can improve. There's a couple of areas I've identified where we can improve, might change the order, might change the team around. The first ride is always sort of like a calibrating ride, so I'm confident with what we've done in the past that we can roughly improve three or four seconds in that second ride. There's two teams on the track, and that makes it quicker."
Both teams have the option of bringing fresh legs in tonight. Ashley Hutchinson for Australia, and Chris Newton for Britain, but both coaches are playing their cards close to their chests. Jones will wait until the last moment before finalising his team, saying "I've not decided yet. It's a possibility. We've got options, we'll go back, have a little debrief, a look at the video and then decide what we're going to do. We've got some time; I haven't got to decide until an hour before hand" and ‘Macca' had a similar response, "I'll have to look at the data for that ride, and then I'll make a decision."
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Mitch Friedman/www.mitchophoto.com