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World Track Championships - CM
Melbourne, Australia, May 26-30, 2004
Day 4 wrap-up:
Keep your hands off my gold
By Gerard Knapp
May 29, 2004: In track cycling, experience counts for something - and it's usually gold in colour, as day 4 of the Track Cycling World Championships saw multiple winners of gold medals maintain their respective mortgages on their chosen disciplines.
But it was not just the experienced riders who thrilled the crowd, as the packed house at the Vodafone Arena in Melbourne adopted a new son, the 20 year-old Dutch sprinter Theo Bos, who found out that Jamie Staff's prominent tattoo on his calf - that shows flesh peeled back to reveal hidden machinery - may not be too far from the truth.
Bos bounced up against the Brit on two occasions, and on two occasions he hit the deck. But the Dutch rider has a beautiful fluid pedaling style that propels him along with great speed. He also shows the benefit of naturally-occurring adrenalin as the harder he fell, the faster he subsequently sprinted. It was a great show that the crowd loved (see report).
The host nation had a lot to cheer about as their team pursuit squad did what was expected, but what was not expected was the Great Britain team's endurance and will to win.
Still, not all the experienced riders have enjoyed the success from previous years. On Saturday night, world cycling probably saw the final outing of track cycling legend Florian Rousseau, and while Jens Fiedler still has the style and poise that has made him the champion, his finishing speed is not - quite - what it once was.
The same could be said for Australian sprinter Sean Eadie, but the big man likes a challenge and it's certain the world has not seen the last of him (see report from round 1 and repechages).
The women sprinters have moved up a notch or three and the sprint finals were a battle between the experienced and the youthful, while the experienced women in the points race showed the younger riders that it takes controlled aggression and cunning to win. It also showed the younger riders that to win a race, it pays to be atttentive, or aggressive, but not passive.
Earlier in the day, during the afternoon session, Ashley Hutchinson (Aust) pulled on an imaginary horn-cord like a train driver as he came across the line in fourth wheel - a position which allows him some emotion as the time is taken on the third rider to cross the line - as the Australian train just motored around the Vodafone Arena like a steam locomotive.
The only team in the first round to finish with all four riders, the Australian pursuit squad looked very strong and they chose the same squad to contest the gold medal final later this evening. The green and gold team qualified fastest and faced Great Britain in the gold medal final, while Spain faced the Netherlands in the bronze medal ride-off.
In the qualifying for the men's sprint - where the big men let fly for 200 metres - two riders posted exactly the same time that was down to the thousandth of a second.
First, Ahmed Lopez (Cuba) posted a 10.624 for the flying 200 metres, but then Hiroyuki Inagaki (Japan) posted exactly the same time. Under the rules, only the fastest 18 out of 27 entrants could progress to the actual sprint rounds, and here's the catch, Lopez qualified in 18th spot, so the Japanese rider qualified in 19th, yet they had the same time. What to do? Draw the short straw, basically, it's in the rules. Yes, when there's an occurrence like this, it comes down to a game of chance.
In the first round, the sprinters got to stretch their legs against each other and the big man of world sprinting showed he was on the way back from a knee injury and pre-race 'flu.
The results from the first hit-out meant the second round (see start list) would involve two of the local heroes riding off against each other. On the other hand, France's Florian Rousseau showed his true class to come around the outside and take out a vital three-rider repechage heat and go through to the next round.
Still, Rousseau didn't have it all throughout the night and he finally bade farewell to world cycling. Rousseau was on his final ride, as he had been planning to retire after the Olympics – but failed to earn selection, so as he told Cyclingnews “that was my last race, ever.”