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Track World Cup 07-08 Round 2 - CDM
Beijing, China, December 7-9, 2007
Olympic test event set to sizzle
By Paul Verkuylen
The second round of the Track World Cup moves to the brand new Laoshan Velodrome and venue of the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing, China this week. After a successful opening round in Sydney which saw a record, 395 cyclists take part in the event, 376 cyclists have entered the Olympic test event.
Forty four nations and a total of 69 teams have entered the weekend of racing, all with the hope of qualifying for next years Olympics. An important aspect of the weekend will be getting to know the track. Not much is known about the track as even photos have been scarce. For all the national teams and rider, bar the Chinese presumably, this will be the first time that anyone will ride the new boards that have been specially laid for the Olympics.
The Sydney world cup brought about a number of surprises and Beijing should be no different as many of the riders are coming off a heavy road season, using the races to build form and fitness for later in the season.
For the track racing super powers like Great Britain, the Netherlands and Australia, the racing may be more about building knowledge for the bigger goal of Olympic gold next year, although in order to win gold, the teams and riders still need to qualify.
The Netherlands won the overall teams competition in Sydney thanks consistent riding from the entire team, but also thanks to the brilliant madison ridden by Peter Schep and Jens Mouris who took a lap on the field in the dying moments of the race to win the race on no points. Thanks to that ride, The Netherlands eclipsed Australia in the overall.
Schep and Mouris are not riding the madison this round as they make way for Danny Stam and Robert Slippens. This approach seems to be being taken by most of the larger national teams, giving all of their riders the chance to prove themselves against the best in the world.
Some of the riders to keep an eye on over the weekend will be those who maybe came away from the Sydney round a little disappointed. Ryan Bailey failed to make the finals in the sprints, so will no doubt be looking to improve on his performance. Chris Hoy is another sprinter who is steadily improving his sprinting and after a fine third place last week, will want to improve on that this time around, but he will have to content with the in form French squad who had three riders in the top four.
Bradley Wiggins missed the individual pursuit in Sydney, citing the fact that he arrived late from Europe. This time he will surely be better acclimatized and will want to get in some all important time on the Beijing boards before going for Olympic gold next year on the same track.
The team pursuit, as always will be hotly contested. The British team came out on top last week, but Australia and New Zealand are steadily improving and cannot be discounted. The result will be far from a fore gone conclusion.
Women's cycling sensation, Marianne Vos will make her debut appearance of the 2007/2008 World Cup this weekend also. She too is targeting the pursuit title but the competion will be tough with Katie Mactier delivering a dominant performance in front of a home crowd. Victoria Pendleton was disappointed last week after not making the finals in the sprint, then not being able to contest the 500m time trial after she picked a stomach bug. She salvaged her weekend when she won the keirin, but will no doubt want to improve her result in her other pet events.
For the first time ever last week, the women raced the team pursuit. The Russian team came out on top over Australia, but only just. The Ukrainian team improved dramatically in their final ride off for third, with each team having a week to reflect on their performances and think of ways to improve the competition is set to sizzle.
As always in the fast paced world that is track racing, no one can be discounted as a threat. For this reason all the teams will be paying close attention to each other in the hope that they will see a slight weakness that they can use to their advantage later in the all important 2007/2008 season.