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2005 UCI Track Cycling World Championships - CM
Los Angeles, CA, USA, March 24-27, 2005
Day 1 - March 24: Men's points race 40 km final; Men's team sprint qualifying & finals; Women's 500m TT final
Opening day rainbows for Britain, Belarus and Ukraine
By Eddie Monnier
Great Britain continued to dominate in the team sprint on the first day of racing at the 2005 Track Cycling World Championships, while Natallia Tsylinskaya (Belarus) beat Australian favourite Anna Meares in the 500m TT and Volodymyr Rybin (Ukraine) rode a canny points race to take the gold medal.
As the first of 11 teams to go, the Olympic sprint team from the Czech Republic kicked off the 2005 Track World Championships in front of a relatively sparse crowd at the ADT Event Center that houses the United States' only indoor and newest velodrome.
Great Britain ripped the fastest laps of the night so far to move into the top qualifying spot with a time of 44.337. With only France and the Netherlands remaining, they were guaranteed to advance to the finals, the only question was whether they would ride for gold or bronze.
In spite of France opening with the fastest first lap of the night, Olympic silver medalists the Netherlands eclipsed the reigning world champions with a 44.575 to move into the gold medal final against Great Britain, while France would face Germany in the bronze medal ride.
You'd think they'd give a day's rest before running the finals, but these guys had to give it their all just two hours later. Each team rode a bit more slowly. Germany dispatched France for the bronze medal in a race that was too close to call by the naked eye. Netherlands had trouble getting together but still led going into the final lap before falling to Great Britain for the gold medal.
" It's great for morale to get that gold medal again," said British team member Chris Hoy. His team-mate Jamie Staff had incurred some mechanical problems with his pedals and said of the misfortune, "Something's bound to go wrong. You can't let it faze you. That didn't bother me at all."
Women's 500 meter TT
By the time the women started their 500 meter time-trials, the stands had filled considerably. Early starter Willy Kanis (Netherlands), who uses track cycling to supplement her BMX racing, powered to a time of 35:056, a personal best by almost 0.8 seconds. She then had the nerve-wracking experience of waiting to see how her time would hold up. While waiting, she told Cyclingnews, "Yeah, I'm a little bit nervous. I hoped for top eight, so I'm happy."
Her time held up until the fifteenth rider, Natallia Tsylinskaya (Belarus), scorched a 34.738 to take the top position. Everyone was waiting for Anna Meares (Australia) to show why she's the world record holder and reigning Olympic and world champion. She missed Tsylinskaya's time by a mere 0.02 but was not disappointed. "I'm really excited that I did so well. I haven't been training for this event. I knew there would be expectations after the Olympics and my world record. We almost flicked it, but then we figured we would give it a shot."
Becky Conzelman (USA) was not happy with her time of 36.074 and 13th place. "I'm really disappointed in my ride tonight. I've been doing some great times in training. Tonight, I got stuck in the gate and that really costs you… It probably cost me six or seven tenths."
Tsylinskaya, the first world champion crowned at the 2005 Track World Championships, commented through an interpreter, "This is my first time so I am still in amazement."
Men's 40K points race
A field of 22 riders lined up for the points race, always a crowd pleaser. The depth of the field would be revealed by how close the race remained. In fact, down to the last lap, there were several riders who still had a shot at earning the world champion stripes and many more who were still in medal contention.
As soon as the gun fired to start the 160-lap race, current scratch race world champion Greg Henderson (New Zealand) bolted off the front with Wouter Van Mechelen (Belgium) and Sean Finning (Australia). They quickly established a half lap lead but the pack kept the reigns tight. They did take the first three sprints spots but were reabsorbed shortly thereafter.
A mish-mash of attacks followed, with the first really serious move coming from Olympic champion Ignatiev (Russia), Pearce (USA), Newton (Great Britain) and Schep (Netherlands). The field was not going to allow a break with this much horsepower to gain much ground, thogh and the riders realized this and sat up after scooping up most of the points in the second sprint.
Volodymyr Rybin (Ukraine), Kei Uchida (Japan), Guido Fulst (German) and Sean Finning (Great Britain) attacked heading into the bell lap for the third sprint, scooped up the points, and then rapidly establish a half-lap lead over the field. They were firing on all cylinders and quickly turned the half lap into three-quarters of a lap. Finning fell off the pace, allowing Rybin, Uchida and Fulst to take the first lap of the race. Finning eventually got his lap, too.
By the mid-point of the 160-lap race, Finning led with just a three-point advantage over Rybin.
Henderson, Newton, Ratajczyk (Kazakastan), Aeschbach (Switzerland), and Sobal (Belarus) stormed off the front and quickly made it clear they were going to get a lap. They made a tactical misstep by taking the lap at 71 to go instead of waiting first for the sprint at 70-to-go before joining the field. This missed opportunity could have very well cost Newton and Henderson medals as they both would finish within three points of a podium spot.
Colby Pearce put in a solo attack at 63-to-go to try to scoop up the 60-to-go points, and then sat up after collecting his 5 points. At this point, only three points separated the top 5 riders.
Heading into 20 laps to go, it was still a close race between a number of riders. Rybin led by 4 points over Finning. Newton and Henderson were tied with 30 laps and several others were close as well.
With 12 laps to go, 2000 Olympic champion and 2004 Worlds silver medalist Llaneras (Spain) and Tamouridis (Greece) attack, snap up points on at the 10-to-go sprint and keep rolling to lap the field, moving Tamouridis into a one point lead over Rybin with just only the final sprint remaining.
Rybin sprinted to second place on the final sprint to re-take the lead and earn the title of 2005 points race world champion.
"I'm very happy, but very tired. To be honest I did not expect it. There was very strong competition and I'm very surprised," said the new world champion.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Mike Gladu/www.velodrome.com
Images by Russ Wright/www.abbiorca.com
Images by Dana Ross/www.danarossphoto.com
Images by Mitch Friedman/www.mitchophoto.com
Team sprint finals Gold 1 Great Britain 17.779 (2) 30.870 (2) 44.379 (60.839km/h) 2 Netherlands 17.708 (1) 30.854 (1) 44.713 (60.385km/h) Bronze 3 Germany 17.872 (2) 31.005 (2) 44.790 (60.281km/h) 4 France 17.670 (1) 30.948 (1) 44.835 (60.22km/h) Full Team Sprint results Men's points race 1 Volodymyr Rybin (Ukraine) 38 pts 2 Ioannis Tamouridis (Greece) 36 3 Juan Llaneras Rossello (Spain) 34 4 Christopher Newton (Great Britain) 32 5 Guido Fulst (Germany) 31 Full men's points race results Women's 500m TT 1 Natallia Tsylinskaya (Belarus) 19.453 (2) 34.738 (51.816km/h) 2 Anna Meares (Australia) 19.484 (3) 34.752 (51.795km/h) 3 Yvonne Hijgenaar (Netherlands) 19.703 (4) 34.928 (51.534km/h) 4 Willy Kanis (Netherlands) 19.233 (1) 35.056 (51.346km/h) 5 Victoria Pendleton (Great Britain) 19.815 (5) 35.088 (51.299km/h) Full women's 500m TT results