Recently on Cyclingnews.com

Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Track Cycling News, March 31, 2008

Edited by Sue George

Reed takes first world championship gold

By Shane Stokes in Manchester, England

Reed in the colours of world champion.
Photo ©: John Pierce
(Click for larger image)

After finishing third in the sprint, thus matching the keirin bronze medal she won four years ago in Melbourne, Jennie Reed took her first world title when she triumphed in the keirin on the final day of the world track championships. Reed timed her acceleration perfectly to come around a fading Victoria Pendleton in the race, preventing the Briton from taking a third gold medal. Christin Muche (Germany) was third.

"This is the first world championship win of my whole career. I am elated to get this medal," she said. "I don't think it could be more perfect. I am now in my upper 20s, nearly 30, and I feel that I am stronger than ever. I also think I am enjoying the racing more this year…that helps a lot."

Pendleton went far from the line and appeared to be on the limit with a lap to go. Reed bided her time, matched her on the final bend and then pulled ahead on the finishing straight.

"I don't think she went too early but when she got out of the saddle on the back straight, I was a little bit surprised," the 29 year-old American stated. "I thought she would have a lot more speed but luckily there wasn't too much left.

Jennie Reed during her first round heat of the Keirin.
Photo ©: John Pierce
(Click for larger image)

"I was very excited to come around Vicky, I felt so strong out there," she added. "I knew that I was going to attack it and whatever came after that, I knew I had to give it everything. In my head, I had to be ready to win."

Pendleton had dominated both the sprint and the team sprint with Shanaze Reade, marking herself out as the quickest rider on the track. Reed had to put those thoughts aside on Sunday, convincing herself she could beat her opponent and take her first world title.

"She is always good and she is always so strong, but I know that for the keirin my tactics are usually pretty good," she said. "The only thing was I had to tell myself just to attack it…when I decided to go, it had to be a full effort. I was surprised to come around her."

Reed will now head back to the US and have a two week vacation, relaxing with her family. After that she will begin her buildup for August's Beijing Olympic Games and what she hopes will be an even bigger title. The keirin is not an Olympic event, but she will turn her attention to the sprint and hopes that she can improve on the bronze medal she took in that race in Manchester.

"I love the keirin, but I am pretty happy with my sprint," she said, when asked about her chances. "My form has improved so I am excited."

No Olympics for Van Dijk, but happy with worlds

By Ben Atkins and Shane Stokes in Manchester, England

Eleonora Van Dijk of The Netherlands
Photo ©: Nick Rosenthal
(Click for larger image)

Women's scratch race winner Eleonora Van Dijk is delighted with the first track world championship title, but the Dutch rider will not contest the Olympic Games in Beijing, China this August. Despite now being a track world champion, Van Dijk hasn't qualified for the Olympics in her preferred discipline, the individual pursuit, having only started track racing four months ago.

"I was never World champion so it is my biggest victory so far!" exclaimed newly crowned scratch race champion Van Dijk. That victory came when she put in a solo attack with around four of the 10 kilometres remaining, and was not pursued by the rest of the pack until it was far too late.

But the Dutchwoman, who rides with the Vrienden Van Het Platteland team on the road, came to these championships with an entirely different objective in mind, "I was focused on the individual pursuit," explained the Dutchwoman. "Everything for me was on that."

A victory in that event would have brought automatic qualification for the Beijing Olympics, the only way for Van Dijk to get there since she hasn't managed to qualify through the World Cup races. "My individual pursuit was good, but I was fifth and just missed the finals," she said. "I was very disappointed because I also missed the Olympic Games, because I only started riding on the track four months ago. I didn't have enough points to ride in the individual pursuit in the Olympics."

The pursuit and the scratch race are entirely different events; the former relying on your own strength and focus against a single opponent, the latter an unpredictable race where anything can happen.

Smile time: Eleonora Van Dijk
Photo ©: Nick Rosenthal
(Click for larger image)

"My plan was to attack about 10 laps from the finish," she said of the late move. "I wanted to go when the speed was a bit lower. I did it about eight laps before the finish."

All of the previous attacks in the race had been seized upon by at least one other rider and smothered by the pack, but not this time. "I was surprised," continued the 21 year-old. "But every country has just one rider so they don't work together. That was better for me to ride away.

"I didn't look behind, just once," she added. "I knew I had to give it everything and if there was no gap, then there was no gap. But it worked out well."

Despite having quite a considerable gap coming into the final lap, Van Dijk refused to believe that the race was won until the very end. She detailed the point at which she realised that she was definitely going to triumph. "Just 100 metres before the finish," she said. "I didn't know how big the gap was [before then], I didn't look back, I was just focused on riding hard and getting everything out."

A few days on from the frustration of non-qualification, her new rainbow jersey and gold medal provide her with a great deal of compensation. "I was really, really disappointed with that," she confirmed. "But this makes up for it."

Godfrey grabs gold on final day

By Shane Stokes in Manchester, England

Gold medallist in the men's Omnium,
Photo ©: Nick Rosenthal
(Click for larger image)
Showing a mix of versatility across the disciplines, Hayden Godfrey took a fine victory in the ominium event on the final day of the world track championships in Manchester. The 29 year-old New Zealand rider dominated the event, winning the scratch race and placing third, fourth, fourth and seventh in the sprint, the pursuit, the kilo and the points race. It was New Zealand's sole medal in the event but put it a solid seventh in the medal table.

The ominium returned to world championship competition last year following a long break. Godfrey's compatriot Jesse Sergent was seventh in Majorca, with the 2008 champion securing his selection this season thanks to a win in the national championship.

"It was only the third 200 metres that I have ever done," he said after the medal presentation. "I am really happy with the time and that set me up for the rest of the day. There was a bit of luck there in the scratch race…it worked out well and put me in a really good position.

"As regards the pursuit, I have done a lot of that and that helped as well, getting a result," he added. "It helped in putting a few other guys out of contention. I didn't manage so well in the points race, that was a bit of a worry, but I just needed some points and it turned out okay. As regards the kilo, I've done a lot of that too, so it wasn’t so much of a problem."

Godfrey took a bronze medal in the team pursuit at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, but has had injury problems since then. He's back in form now and seems to have found his perfect event.

"I first heard about the omnium a couple of years ago," he explained. "I thought that would really suit me, because I am quite good at all disciplines. One of the most important things is being right up there in everything. You can't afford to have a bad ride on one event, otherwise you lose your opportunity of doing well.

"I am sort of like a jack of all trades and master of none, I suppose," he smiled. "That is why I slotted in well when this event came along. I had an injury last year and never got to do it, so I felt like I had to have another year to have a crack at it. I am just really happy it has worked out. New Zealand has not won very many world titles so I am happy to be part of that small group."

Namesake Hayden Roulston was fourth in the individual pursuit on the opening day of the competition, and was part of the team pursuit squad that finished fourth in that competition. Godfrey feels that more success is on the way. "Our endurance programme is going really well," he said. "There are a lot of young guys coming through, so I think in the future you are going to see more New Zealand riders on the podium in events like the team pursuit and that."

He's hoping that his strong performance could see him get the nod for August's Beijing Olympic Games. "Hopefully they think that this [victory] crosses over enough. The team pursuit is my only option. So we will just have to wait and see, have a talk with them. This is an opportunity to get back on the team. It is up to them."

Howard and Goss boost Aussie morale

By Shane Stokes in Manchester, England

Leigh Howard of Australia
Photo ©: Nick Rosenthal
(Click for larger image)
Australia had a somewhat quiet world championship campaign in Mallorca one year ago but at the time, team coaches said that the emphasis was on helping young riders gain experience and it was to be expected. On this occasion, the squad were hoping for a stronger showing prior to the Beijing Olympic Games.

As things turned out, arch-rivals Great Britain had a dream showing on home soil, taking nine gold and two silver medals. Australia started the final day with just two bronze medals to its credit, namely the third place in the team pursuit achieved by Graeme Brown, Bradley McGee, Mark Jamieson and Luke Roberts and Katie Mactier's bronze in the individual pursuit event.

Leigh Howard and Belinda Goss made things look a little better, though, with Howard taking silver behind Hayden Godfrey in the omnium and Goss scooping bronze when she came in behind Eleonora Van Dijk and Yumari Gonzalez Valdivieso in the women's scratch race. That moved the country up to 11th in the medal table; far off where it had planned to be, but better than would otherwise have been the case.

Howard was buoyed by his result, the talented 18 year-old performing above his expectations. "I went into this saying that top five would be fantastic, so to come away with silver is unbelievable," he told Cyclingnews. "I started off doing a personal best time for the flying 200, so I couldn't have asked for anything more. The pursuit and the kilo were also personal best times…for me it was fantastic and showed I had good form." He finished eighth, third and third in those events.

Howard was second and 12th in the other two races which make up the final total, eventually ending the omnium with 28 points to Godfrey's 19 [lowest points score wins].

"I rode really well in the scratch race, not so well in the points score," Howard continued. "That was more a tactical issue there rather than something amiss with the legs. But that's racing. I don’t think anybody was going to beat Hayden anyway, he's been fantastic the whole day. So congratulations to him."

As for Goss, she finished 12th in the scratch race at the worlds last season and so getting a medal was a very nice upwards trend for the 24 year-old. "I'm certainly stoked by the result," she said. "This is my first medal at a senior [world] championships, and it is a great improvement on last year.

"There were attacks throughout the race so the pace was on for a lot of the time. It is always nice to win but certainly third is a great start to where I want to go. Ellen attacked at a perfect opportunity and she was strong enough to hold us all off. So well done to her."

Goss will head back to Italy and return to racing with the Australian Institute of Sport team, while Howard will return to Australia for a month before flying back to the same European country and doing likewise. Like Goss, he is optimistic that things will improve for Australia before Beijing.

"We have done quite well considering and I am sure come Olympics, Australia will pull together," he said. "Unfortunately we didn’t get a start in the madison, but come the team pursuit and the points race, I think that Australia will really come together in time."

Previous News    Next News

(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing Limited 2008)