|Cyclingnews TV News Tech Features Road MTB BMX Cyclo-cross Track Photos Fitness Letters Search Forum|
2008 UCI Track Cycling World Championships - CM
Great Britain, March 26-30, 2008
Day 1 - March 26: Men's individual pursuit qualifying & final, scratch race final, team sprint qualifying & final, Women's 500m time trial;
Men's Individual Pursuit Finals
Wiggins shows his class
By Ben Atkins and Shane Stokes in Manchester
Order was restored in the gold medal final as Great Britain's Bradley Wiggins class came through in victory over surprise fastest qualifier Jenning Huizenga of the Netherlands, giving the host nation their first gold medal of the championships in only the second event. The reigning World and Olympic champion has laid down the challenge to his rivals for this year's main target in Beijing in just over three month's time.
Huizenga started the fastest - taking over three-quarters of a second lead over the Briton in the first lap, but Wiggins was soon up to speed and was up by a tenth by the end of the first kilometre. He was over a second up by kilometre two, and over three by number three. Almost having his opponent in his sights in the final kilometre Wiggins seemed to ease up slightly as he sat up and punched the air as he crossed the line almost five seconds faster than the Dutchman.
"I am really satisfied, it is a great relief." Wiggins told Cyclingnews after his triumphant ride. "To win in Manchester is fantastic, a great feeling. I am just pleased I got the job done. I said before I wasn't too bothered about my time... I knew what time I was capable of riding."
The newly re-crowned champion confirmed the impression that he had eased up towards the end of qualification, which allowed the Dutch rider to get the fastest time. "I was a bit excited earlier in the day in the qualifying during the first couple of kilometres; I had to throttle back in the last kilometre so as not to do too much damage for the final."
Wiggins' split times were consistently slower than his qualifying time; Huizenga's even slower as it began to appear that his surprise performance this afternoon had taken more out of him than the defending champion. A massive roar went up on either side of the track as the partisan crowd willed the local hero around each lap. He will now join the Great Britain pursuit team - now short of the withdrawn Hayles - and hope to retain that title too.
"I think the final was just a case of going on a schedule that I knew the Dutch guy wouldn't be able to do. This is about the three events I have got here....I am back up tomorrow [in the Team Pursuit] so I had to throttle back a bit and just do enough to win it."
In the ride off for bronze, Russian Alexei Markov took an early one second lead over New Zealander Hayden Roulston, and never looked in trouble as the Kiwi could make no impression despite riding the second kilometre slightly the faster.
Huizenga shocks Wiggins in qualifying
The one certainty of this afternoon's qualification was that home rider and reigning World Champion Bradley Wiggins would qualify fastest – the only question was by how much. Unexpectedly, Dutch rider Jenning Huizenga, whose only notable result this season has been a silver medal at the Los Angeles World Cup – not only managed to stay with Wiggins for the whole distance, but actually overtook him on the last lap to qualify fastest. The two will meet again in this evening's final though, as Wiggins finished not far behind in second place.
Alexei Markov of Russia flew through his qualifier and caught his opponent just as he crossed the line to temporarily take the lead from a blistering Hayden Roulston, who had set the early best time. The New Zealander caught his opponent – Germany's Robert Bengsch – who was disqualified for taking pace for almost half of the race. Markov and Roulston will ride off for bronze this evening.
An odd number of riders started the afternoon session in the absence of Great Britain's Rob Hayles, who was declared unfit to start this morning after a UCI blood control found him to be over the 50% haematocrit limit.
David O'Loughlin, Ireland's only representatives at the championships, knocked almost five seconds off his personal best time – the Irish national record – but it wasn't quite enough for the medal finals and he finished in sixth place. Australian former World Champion Bradley McGee started steadily and accelerated towards the end, but was ultimately pushed into fifth. Seventeen year-old World Junior Champion Taylor Phinney (USA) put in a very solid ride for seventh place against the far more experienced opposition.
Lisouski wins in heroic solo attack
Aliaksandr Lisouski of Belarus was a deserving winner of the Men's Scratch Race after being the most consistently aggressive rider throughout. As early as the first few laps, Lisouski attacked his rivals in an effort to get a lap up - and the almost assured victory that would come with it. The Belarusian managed to get the back of the bunch in sight, but a surge in speed from riders at the front meant that he was unable to join on and he faded back again.
The mid part of the race was peppered with attacks from various riders, but none as effective as Lisouski's. The major incidents otherwise included a lost chain from Malaysian rider Hariff Salleh and a small crash going into the back straight that brought down young British rider Steven Burke.
As the race entered its closing stages, two pairs of riders escaped including Japanese rider Kazuhiro Mori and World Cup champion Roger Kluge. As the attack's impetus was lost, Mori set off alone and looked for all the world like he might hang on for the victory, but Lisouski was having none of it.
Attacking alone once more, Lisouski gradually reeled in the Japanese rider to catch him just before the bell. Once caught by the Belarusian rider, Mori visibly deflated and was quickly caught by the head of the bunch, but still managed to finish in an creditable sixth. Despite fading considerably, Lisouski managed to cross the line just ahead of the charging pack led by Wim Stroetinga (Netherlands) and Kluge.
Vive la France!
The unofficial World record holders (there is no official record due to the different lengths of tracks all over the world) managed to eclipse their previous best time in qualification this afternoon, and pushed it further still in their Gold medal final against hosts Great Britain.
As expected, the final round came down to the usual contest against perennial winners France and habitual runners-up Great Britain. This time though, the finish was nearly three-tenths of a second, rather than the two-thousandths in Mallorca last year.
Both teams managed a first lap time of just over seventeen seconds, but the French always managed to be a tenth or so quicker for each split. Great Britain finished up with a new national record, but they were no match for the storming French.
There was a technical glitch with the PA system during the playing of the winner's national anthem, so the French section of the crowd treated everybody else to an impromptu rendition of the Marseillaise.
"It was a phenomenal ride by Jamie [Staff]," a panting Ross Edgar - Great Britain's second rider in line - said after his silver medal ride. "A really, really good ride for the first lap and I was trying so hard just to keep with him. I was delighted with the ride, we did a good time; we beat the British record from last year in Parma [Mallorca].
"I think we're just moving in the right direction for the Olympics, we're keeping with them [the French], moving forward, and hopefully we can do one better when we go to Beijing," he added.
When asked if this performance put the British team is on target for beating its French nemesis come August, Edgar was positive that this new national record is a big step in the right direction. "Definitely, I mean, I've gone into this season looking at the big picture, the long picture, so I'm always hoping that my best form is going to come at the Olympics," he said. "It's a very long season, I've started off slow and I'm building all the way. It's just started to really go well for me now, so hopefully in these few months until the Olympics I can just improve that little bit more that we need and make the difference, when it comes down to it."
Arnaud Tournant - drafted in to replace Mickael Bourgain for the final - was clearly as jubilant to win this World title as all the rest. "Yes, it's clear, it's my fifth World Championship, but it feels as good as my first," said a delighted Tournant. "It's the result of a lot of work that's come together today."
Despite twice shattering the unofficial World record, the Frenchman was upbeat about the preparations for Beijing. The psychological matter of putting one over their main rivals is more important than the possible issue of peaking too soon. "It's a good time," he said. "I think it's the best for the Olympic Games because it's an advantage for the French team. It's the first place in the World championship, and it's a big thing, it's an advantage to get this over Great Britain and the Netherlands. It's a good start for the French team and for our preparation.
"I'm very happy," continued the popular Frenchman. "It's very difficult for me, because you have the continuance with the other front guy, it's a big level and it's not easy I think today that it's a good start for me."
How much bearing this race will have on the forthcoming Olympic Games, only time will tell.
The race for bronze was a similarly close affair with the faster qualifying Netherlands team eclipsing their German rivals by almost half a second. The Dutch team took the lead in the first lap and gradually increased the gap in the following two to take the bronze.
Starting in a seeded order, relatively slow times of over 45 seconds gradually increased until the top ranked teams were due. Matched against the Germans in the second to last heat, the Great Britain team posted their second ever fastest time to guarantee a place in the medal finals.
For a while it looked like Germany and Great Britain would have to ride off against each other, as the Netherlands and French were both faster in the earlier splits. The Dutch faded in the last lap though to finish third fastest, setting up yet another battle between Great Britain and France.
A few minor incidents occurred during qualification as the leading Greek rider toppled over while waiting in the gate. A technical problem for the Malaysian team forced them to abort their first attempt and they were allowed to ride again at the end of the session. These issues seemed to affect the concentration of both teams and they finished as the slowest two.
Guerra Rodriguez claims Gold
Lisandra Guerra Rodriguez of Cuba has taken the first rainbow jersey of this year's championships with a time of 34.021. The overall World Cup winner was fastest in all the split times and eventually finished .045 seconds ahead of Simona Krupeckaite (Lithuania).
"I am very happy," said the new World champion to. "Firstly because this is my favourite discipline, and secondly because my oldest coach - who means a lot to me - travelled from Canada to here to see me. That was very good for me. Also, my coach and me worked very hard to obtain the title this year.
"I waited three years to win this," she continued. "It has been difficult because I have been training after the World Championships in Vienna as a junior. I entered in the elite and was third in 2006 in France in the 500 metres. Last year in Palma I was second, and this year I got first year. It is a nice step forward."
"After today I will have a little rest and then come back and train for the Olympics," she added. Of course the only event for the fast women at this year's Olympic Games will be the Sprint.
With the exception of the reigning champion Anna Meares, who is at home in Australia recovering from a crash, and a few others, the running order of the Women's 500m was more or less the finishing order of last year's championships in reverse. Most of the earlier starters were consistently going a good half second faster than last year.
Sandie Clair of France started steadily but accelerated in her second lap to record a time of 34.253, which was to stand for a long time until the top favourites took their turns.
Lithuanian Krupeckaite, fourth in Mallorca last year, was slightly slower than Clair at half way, but proved even faster than the Frenchwoman in the final 250 metres to take the lead - and a guaranteed medal - with only two riders remaining.
2007 bronze medallist Natallia Tsylinskaya (Belarus) was unable to replicate anything like the same form, and could be seen to be weaving above the red line several times during her second lap and her time was way down as a result.
Guerra Rodriguez was last rider off and was almost two-tenths of a second quicker than the next fastest over lap one and, although she faded slightly in lap two, she'd done enough to overhaul Krupeckaite. Interestingly, by using tri-bars, the Cuban bucked the trend, whereby riders with sprinters bars tended to go faster in the first lap before fading and those with tri-bars tended to get faster in the second lap.
Great Britain's best medal hope Shanaze Reade blitzed the first lap in the second fastest time - until Guerra Rodriguez smashed it - but faded in the second lap to finish in a provisional fifth with 34.702. She would eventually slip to seventh.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Nick Rosenthal/fatnick.com
Images by AFP Photo
Images by CJ Farquharson/WomensCycling.net
Images by John Pierce/Photosport International
Images by Stephen McMahon
Men's individual pursuit
Qualfiying 1 Jenning Huizenga (Netherlands) 4.16.34 (56.174 km/h) 2 Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain) 4.17.02 3 Alexei Markov (Russian Federation) 4.18.24 4 Hayden Roulston (New Zealand) 4.18.33 5 Bradley McGee (Australia) 4.20.43 6 David O'Loughlin (Ireland) 4.20.91 7 Luke Roberts (Australia) 4.21.89 8 Taylor Phinney (United States Of America) 4.22.36 9 Antonio Tauler Llull (Spain) 4.22.65 10 Volodymyr Dyudya (Ukraine) 4.22.73 11 Alexander Serov (Russian Federation) 4.22.74 12 Dominique Cornu (Belgium) 4.22.79 13 Sergi Escobar Roure (Spain) 4.24.13 14 Jens Mouris (Netherlands) 4.24.48 15 Marc Ryan (New Zealand) 4.24.78 16 Robert Bartko (Germany) 4.25.14 17 Phillip Thuaux (Australia) 4.26.43 18 Vitaliy Popkov (Ukraine) 4.27.04 19 Sun Jae Jang (Korea) 4.28.40 20 Carlos Eduardo Alzate Escobar (Colombia) 4.29.94 21 Jairo Perez Suarez (Colombia) 4.33.50 22 Dominique Stark (Switzerland) 4.36.39 Finals For Gold 1 Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain) 4.18.52 (55.701 km/h) 2 Jenning Huizenga (Netherlands) 4.23.47 For Bronze 3 Alexei Markov (Russian Federation) 4.21.10 4 Hayden Roulston (New Zealand) 4.23.66
Men's scratch race