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2008 UCI Track Cycling World Championships - CM
Great Britain, March 26-30, 2008
Day 4 - March 29: Men's madison
Wiggins and Cavendish get the High Road over the Germans
By Ben Atkins and Shane Stokes in Manchester
Great Britain's pair of Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins won a dramatic victory in the World Championship Madison. It was Wiggins' third gold of these championships, and Britain's eighth - eclipsing last year's astonishing total of seven.
"It was quite hard," said Cavendish after the race. "I don't know how it looked, but it seems to us that when we went, five or six other teams came with us every time. So I kept saying to Brad, 'We have got to keep going till they all blow and we can just carry on.' I think we are about the only riders here who've spent the season on the road, and we have got the depth for 50 kilometres. We noticed in the World Cups a lot of the teams blew after 40 kilometres, so it was just a case of keeping going until that happens."
Winning points first and then taking a lap later is one of the toughest ways to win a Madison, but the Great Britain pair was forced to do it that way. "We just thought we'd try and score early really," Wiggins told Cyclingnews, "with a view to if we got a lap later on in the race we'd be well up. Which is what we did. We didn't bust a gut, but at the same time if we were there-or-there-abouts we'd just try to nick a couple of points each time"
"We were just nipping and nipping," Cavendish concurred, "and later on we have the reserves to go for a lap. Obviously the group split and at one point I thought it was going to be hard, but Brad held me in. He gave me a couple of double rests there and that allowed me to keep on top of it. If I start going into fatigue it is hard for me to come back. So Brad kept doing a perfect job to give me that extra rest, and that keeps me on top of my game."
Most of the top teams watched each other during the race, but it seemed as thought the eyes of all seventeen other teams were on the pair in red, white and blue. Wiggins himself was also attentive to one or two others, but knew that when they made a decisive move, they could successfully carry it off. "Just the guys like Llaneras and those guys really," he said, "and the early ones that took a lap. They felt like they were marking us a bit, but once we got fifty-sixty metres they just kind of forget about you a little bit and there's the realisation that they have to make quite a bit of effort to get you back. That was the main thing for us really, just timing the attack to perfection"
The British pair was the first to put in a serious attack and there was a roar from the crowd as Wiggins took first place, and five points, in the first sprint. The bid for freedom and a vital lap proved fruitless though as a fresh and attentive bunch reeled them back in.
A crash after at twenty-three laps saw the end of the Russian team's race as Alexei Markov came down. Fabio Masotti also came down for the Italians, but remounted and rejoined the race.
Soon after the second sprint, the Belgian pair of Kenny De Ketele and Iljo Keisse attacked with Denmark's Michael Morkov and Alex Rasmussen, they were chased by the Netherlands team of Jens Mouris and Peter Schep, the German team of Roger Kluge and Olaf Pollack, and Great Britain. The chase was to no avail though and the Belgians and Danes made contact with the back of the bunch to go a lap up.
Constant attacks from many teams - mostly Great Britain - were not fruitful until defending champions Franco Marvulli and Bruno Risi of Switzerland escaped alone and successfully joined Belgium and Denmark on the leading lap.
As the race entered its second half Great Britain was continuing to attack, but only succeeded in adding points to their total which were useless unless they could get on to the same lap as the leaders. At one point they managed to get in to a small group with Belgium and Denmark, but the Swiss pair marked the move and it fizzled out like all the others.
In to the last quarter the Spanish team made up of 2006 winner and last year's Points race champion Joan Llaneras Rosello and Carlos Torrent Tarres put in a devastating attack and managed within the space of ten laps to catch the field and make it four teams in the lead, with Denmark in pole position due to their ten points.
Finally with around twenty laps to go, a massive acceleration from Wiggins allowed him and Cavendish to finally break the bonds of the other favourites and take the lap they so desperately needed. They moved into an immediate lead by virtue of the sixteen points they'd accumulated in their numerous other attacks.
An attack from current also-rans Germany suited Great Britain as they took the big points in the penultimate sprint, but when they managed to turn their attack into a successful bid to take a lap they were catapulted into a silver medal position just three points behind Great Britain.
In the final laps, it became clear that the race would come down to a contest between Great Britain, Germany in the sprint, with Denmark and Belgium in with a chance for a medal but unable to get gold. Cavendish was thrown into the action by Wiggins with two to go and the young sprinter used his devastating speed to capture second place and the gold medal. Denmark managed to get fourth on the line, but that single point was not enough to overhaul the Germans who took silver.
1 Great Britain 19 pts Mark Cavendish Bradley Wiggins 2 Germany 13 Roger Kluge Olaf Pollack 3 Denmark 11 Michael Morkov Alex Rasmussen 4 Belgium 8 Kenny De Ketele Iljo Keisse 5 Switzerland 3 Franco Marvulli Bruno Risi 6 Spain 1 Joan Llaneras Rosello Carlos Torrent Tarres One lap behind 7 France 15 Matthieu Ladagnous Jérôme Neuville 8 Argentina 12 Juan Esteban Curuchet Walter Fernando Perez 9 New Zealand 11 Greg Henderson Hayden Roulston 10 Netherlands 5 Jens Mouris Peter Schep 11 Italy Angelo Ciccone Fabio Masotti Two laps behind 12 Japan 5 Makoto Iijima Kazuhiro Mori 13 United States 4 Michael Friedman Colby Pearce 14 Czech Republic 3 Alois Kankovsky Petr Lazar 15 Ukraine Lyubomyr Polatayko Volodymyr Rybin DNF Canada Martin Gilbert Ryan Mckenzie DNF Korea Sun Jae Jang Jae Wan Jung DNF Russia Mikhail Ignatiev Alexei Markov