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2006 UCI Track Cycling World Championships - CM
France, April 13-16, 2006
Stage 4 - April 16: Women's scratch 5 km qualifying & 10 km final; Women's keirin 1st round, repechages, 2nd round, 7 to 12 & final; Men's sprint 1/2 finals & finals; Men's Madison 50 km final
Four events decided on final day
By Mal Sawford in Bordeaux
Women's keirin: Muche surprises
Two time defending champion Clara Sanchez (France) won the opening heat comfortably to move into the second round. Sanchez powered past Anna Meares (Australia) at the bell, with sprint champion Natallia Tsylinskaya on her wheel, and opened a gap that the Australian could not close. Simona Krupeckaite (Lithuania) led out the second heat, but had no answer to the surge from China's Shuang Guo in the back straight. Also qualifying was 2005 silver medallist and reigning world cup champion Elisa Frisoni (Italy).
Jennie Reed (USA) led for the last two laps in the third heat, with Vicky Pendleton moving into second wheel on her hip at the bell. Reed fought on, and the pack hit the line together, with Chinese rider Di Mu sneaking though on the inside to cross the line first. Mu was immediately relegated for riding on the cote d'azur, and Reed, second across the line was awarded the win ahead of Christin Muche (Germany).
The first heat of the repechage saw Anna Meares relegated for dangerous riding, which forced Pendleton to take violent evasive action that ended her run. Lisandra Guerra Rodriguez passed Meares in the straight but was also relegated for coming into Meares' path, leaving Krupeckaite, Kerrie Meares and Tamilia Abassova (Russia) to move into the second round. The second round was incident free, with Celine Nivert (France) riding from the front to lead home Di Mu (China) and Diana Maria Garcia Orrego (Columbia).
In the second round, Sanchez won through to the final with a strong sprint to lead home Muche and Di. Guo won the second heat from Jennie Reed, but judges initially could not separate Tsylinskaya and Garcia Orrego, and made the decision to put both riders into the final, for a seven rider field. Later, this decision was reversed, with Garcia Orrego given the third place, ending any chance of Tsylinskaya claiming her third gold of the championships.
The final saw Sanchez well positioned in her bid for a third successive keirin title, but with a little over a lap to race, Muche held the front position, and in an impressive show of strength held a frustrated Sanchez on her hip for the entire final lap to take the win, ahead of Sanchez and Guo. Garcia Orrego hit the deck hard in the finale, with Di disqualified for dangerous riding. An emotional Muche was delighted with her win, saying, "I was disappointed with my result in the sprint, but today I'm very, very happy. It's my first ever world championships so I'm really pleased to have taken a medal." The German has a five week break planned and "I don't want to hear about bikes any more! I will just take a rest."
Sanchez admitted she was "pretty disappointed, but second place is still good. I became a little disoriented in the last lap when I saw someone coming up on my inside. I thought it was Reed [who she had just passed], but then I realised it was the German, but I had lost my chance."
Men's sprint: Who's the Bos?
Theo Bos had little trouble taking the first heat of his match against Stephan Nimke, using his superior speed to come around the German in the final bend. It was a similar scenario in the second heat, with Bos once again coming from behind to move into the gold medal final.
French hope Mickael Bourgain hit out early in his first ride against Craig MacLean, and opened a twenty metre lead at the bell. MacLean made a huge amount of ground in the back straight, but fell inches short of catching Bourgain at the line. MacLean tied the match in the second heat after powering past his French opponent in the back straight, and winning easily, but the decider was the closest race yet. Bourgain led out, and came within millimetres of holding off MacLean as the pair battled to the line, but to the disappointment of the near capacity crowd, the photo showed the British rider in front.
In the battle for the bronze medal, Nimke was simply too strong, coming around Bourgain in the final bend to win the first heat. He led out in the second heat, and was again too powerful for the Frenchman.
The gold medal went to Bos after two dominant displays. Bos caught MacLean napping a lap and half from home in the first heat, he flew past from high on the banking to open an unassailable lead. Bos drew the front position in the second round, and slowly would up the pace from the bottom of the track, and didn't allow McLean a chance to run at him off the banking. Bos opened the sprint early, and showed is by far the fastest rider in sprint cycling, with MacLean unable to come off his wheel as Bos claimed the world title.
Bos admitted he was confidant going into the final, because, "I knew I have the best top speed." After race, he said "I had a good day today, I felt better than yesterday. He [MacLean] is a difficult opponent, he had good speed this weekend, and good acceleration. That's a difficult combination. I also have this combination, but I knew I'd have to be focused and go flat out."
Bos explained his thought processes during the final. "He made a small mistake in the first one, and I took my chance. In the second race he had to follow, because of the draw. I could sense him right behind me, and I was sure he was coming, so I thought ‘be careful now' and I didn't let him come past.
MacLean was reasonably satisfied to have come away with the silver medal. "Mentally, getting up for a big event so soon after the Commonwealth Games is quite difficult, but I did feel like I was improving with every ride."
Bos has some major track carnivals coming up in Holland, where the Dutch team is hoping to capitalise on their success at the world's, but an exhibition race at Schiphol airport on Saturday, where he will compete in a team sprint against an aeroplane is sure to get widespread coverage!
Women's scratch race: Calle Williams wins big
Great Britain's Nikki Harris was the first to attack three laps into the forty lap journey. Pascale Schnider (Switzerland) and Olga Slioussareva (Russia) followed, with the Russian pressing on alone after the others swung up after only a lap out front.
Slioussareva held her lead until thirty laps to go, when Adrie Visser accelerated and towed the bunch to the Russian's wheel. Visser launched her own attack with twenty-three laps remaining, which Kate Bates (Australia), Gema Pascual (Spain) and Slioussareva followed, but all were quickly chased down.
Canada's Gina Grain escaped at eighteen laps to go, and quickly built a half lap lead. Three laps later Maria Luisa Calle Williams (Columbia) set off in solo pursuit, reaching the Canadian with thirteen laps to travel. When the pairs advantage increased to over half a lap, first Yoanka Gonzalez Perez (Cuba), the Harris lifted the pace in the bunch, but with little support, the two leaders continued to close in on the back of the bunch, eventually making contact at six to go.
Grain did a big turn to close the final twenty metres, but erred when she elected to go high on the track to latch on. "I made a big mistake," Grain admitted. "I made a really big mistake and I realised it when I did it, when I surged to catch the pack, that was my effort and I paid for it, because she got the free ride up to the peloton and then she went up to the front, and I'd put all my Easter eggs in one basket and that was a really big mistake and that cost me the gold medal. I think I ran out of patience and that four second effort cost me the gold medal. Had I sat tight and relaxed a little bit more it would have been a better move."
Calle Williams found a way to the front of the pack on down the inside, and was able to hold a good position to the finish, while Grain was caught high and wide once the sprint for third started. "My trainer said go to the front, and for the last two laps I was looking for the Canadian to see if she was going to pass me, but she could not," was how Calle Williams explained her tactics.
Slioussareva led out and held on for the bronze medal, but the win was the Colombian's, with Grain unable to contest the sprint giving her the silver medal. Calle Williams had won bronze at the Athens Olympics in the points race, but was still in disbelief at her success when Cyclingnews caught up with her. "I think now that I'm dreaming. I still don't believe it!"
She found the pace tough, and was a little worried she had made her attack too far from home. "When I went out of the group, to go up to the Canadian girl, we still had eighteen laps to go, and I think the group will catch me, and there is so much laps to go!"
After fourth placings on the road and track at the Commonwealth Games, Grain was delighted to finally claim a medal in a major competition. "A medal at world championship level is a pretty lucky thing. It's something that I think everybody dreams of and I dreamed of it last night and it came true. At first, when you come second and that first place seems in reach...but I can't complain. It was a silver medal ride and I worked really hard for it and I'm happy. Thanks to all my friends and family for believing in me.
"I learned something from my coach when we talked about earlier on in the season, and I think I paced myself a little bit better today. Often I just go really hard out and kinda blow everything, so I just paced myself and did some accelerations when I needed to when the pack was active."
Men's Madison: The Spanish connection is back!
The Spanish team of Juan Llaneras Rossello and Isaac Galvez Lopez dominated the Madison, as one of four teams to take two laps on the field. The first came after an attack eighty laps into the race, with the break also containing Argentina, Belgium, Great Britain, Russia and Ukraine. The lap was awarded with 113 laps remaining, and immediately saw a counter attack from Franco Marvulli (Switzerland), which saw the Swiss team quickly put themselves on the same lap as the leaders.
The next move to succeed saw Spain join Argentina, Netherlands and the Ukraine on the attack just after the half way mark. The Australian team missed the move, but a counter attack from Simon Clarke saw them close in on the break, with defending champions Great Britain (Mark Cavendish and Rob Hayles) also in pursuit. Five teams were awarded a lap with eighty laps remaining, but it took the Aussies an extra six laps to reach the back of the field after losing contact with the British team when Sean Finning showed signs of cracking.
The Spanish pair led on ten points with three sprints remaining, from the Ukraine (Lyubomyr Polatayko and Volodymir Rybin) with eight, and both Argentina (Walter Perez and Juan Curuchet) on five. From that point, Spain was able to extend its lead by claiming second place in the sprints at sixty and forty laps to go, and ran out comfortable winners ahead of the teams from Ukraine and Argentina.
Llaneras was pleased to return to the winner's podium at world championship level. "The win was very important because since 2002 I haven't raced with Galvez, and for those past few years I wanted to, but it was not possible. It was very important for us to show that we are the best at this discipline. We showed that we are the strongest, not with words but with our legs.
"I realised after 120 laps, we could be on the podium and had a chance to win when we took a second lap. With Galvez we are strong enough to ride at the front, but also to sprint."
For young Australian rider Simon Clarke, a former junior world champion in the teams pursuit, the Madison was his first appearance at the senior world's. His debut wasn't ideal, with the late withdrawal of his regular partner Miles Olman, who came down with the flu after his ride in the scratch race. Stand in partner Sean Finning hadn't ridden since the points race on the opening day of the championships, and the pair had never ridden as a team together, so a top ten placing represented an impressive achievement. "We couldn't have done more given the circumstances," he said. "I'm a little bit disappointed, but it was nice to get that lap."
Expect to see more of Clarke in years to come: "With good preparation, a full season to prepare we would definitely be a chance."
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by AFP Photo
Images by Mitch Friedman/www.mitchophoto.com