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2008 UCI Track Cycling World Championships - CM
Great Britain, March 26-30, 2008
Day 1 - March 26: Men's team sprint
Vive la France!
By Ben Atkins in Manchester
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.
Qualifying 1 France 0.43.51 (62.048 km/h) Gregory Bauge (France) Mickaël Bourgain (France) Kévin Sireau (France) 2 Great Britain 0.43.91 Ross Edgar (Great Britain) Chris Hoy (Great Britain) Jamie Staff (Great Britain) 3 Netherlands 0.43.96 Theo Bos (Netherlands) Teun Mulder (Netherlands) Tim Veldt (Netherlands) 4 Germany 0.44.26 Rene Enders (Germany) Maximilian Levy (Germany) Stefan Nimke (Germany) 5 Australia 0.44.62 Daniel Ellis (Australia) Mark French (Australia) Ben Kersten (Australia) 6 Russian Federation 0.44.90 Sergey Borisov (Russian Federation) Sergey Kucherov (Russian Federation) Sergey Ruban (Russian Federation) 7 People's Republic of China 0.45.00 Yong Feng (People's Republic of China) Wen Hao Li (People's Republic of China) Lei Zhang (People's Republic of China) 8 Japan 0.45.03 Tsubasa Kitatsuru (Japan) Kiyofumi Nagai (Japan) Kazunari Watanabe (Japan) 9 Ukraine 0.45.06 Yevhen Bolibrukh (Ukraine) Yuriy Tsyupyk (Ukraine) Andriy Vynokurov (Ukraine) 10 United States Of America 0.45.13 Michael Blatchford (United States Of America) Adam Duvendeck (United States Of America) Giddeon Massie (United States Of America) 11 Poland 0.45.16 Maciej Bielecki (Poland) Kamil Kuczynski (Poland) Lukasz Kwiatkowski (Poland) 12 Spain 0.45.28 Alvaro Alonso Rubio (Spain) Hodei Mazquiaran Uria (Spain) Salvador Melia Mangrinan (Spain) 13 Czech Republic 0.45.68 Tomas Babek (Czech Republic) Filip Ptacnik (Czech Republic) Denis Spicka (Czech Republic) 14 Greece 0.45.70 Athanasios Mantzouranis (Greece) Christos Volikakis (Greece) Panagiotis Voukelatos (Greece) 15 Malaysia 0.45.71 Azizulhasni Awang (Malaysia) Muhammad Edrus Md Yunos (Malaysia) Josiah Ng Onn Lam (Malaysia) Finals 1 France 0.43.27 (62.397 km/h) Gregory Bauge (France) Kévin Sireau (France) Arnaud Tournant (France) 2 Great Britain 0.43.78 Ross Edgar (Great Britain) Chris Hoy (Great Britain) Jamie Staff (Great Britain) 3 Netherlands 0.43.72 Theo Bos (Netherlands) Teun Mulder (Netherlands) Tim Veldt (Netherlands) 4 Germany 0.44.28 Rene Enders (Germany) Maximilian Levy (Germany) Stefan Nimke (Germany) 5 Australia 6 Russia 7 China 8 Japan 9 Ukraine 10 United States 11 Poland 12 Spain 13 Czech Republic 14 Greece 15 Malaysia