Posted by Editoress on 03/26/10
Five world titles were awarded on Thursday, Day 2 of the 2010 Track World Championships in Copenhagen. The highlights of the day were Sir Chris Hoy's tenth world title, and the setting of world records in the women's Team Pursuit and Team Sprint. Canadians saw action in three events, with the top performance a sixth place and new Canadian record by the women's Team Pursuit squad.
Men's Individual Pursuit
Defending champion Taylor Phinney (USA) easily defended his title in the men's IP, beating Trek-Livestrong teammate Jesse Sergent (New Zealand) in the gold medal final. Phinney lost to Sergent in the qualifier, but that seemed to be more a case of easing off in the final lap to conserve energy. In the bronze medal final, Jack Bobridge (Australia) defeated Alexander Serov (Russia).
One bit of excitment was the disqualification of Kazakh rider Alexey Kolessov, for 'failure to keep his arms in a horizontal position', ie, having his aero bars tilted. The DQ served as a warning to the American camp, who were feverishly adjusting Phinney's bars just before his start. In the women's team pursuit, Lithuania was disqualified for the same infraction by Vilija Sereikaite.
The Keirin is always one of the more exciting events, and that was the case in Copenhagen. Hoy is the Olympic champion in the discipline, and back at the Worlds after missing last year due to injury. He didn't have any easy time of it in the early rounds of the competition, having to come all the way from the back of the group on the final lap of the first round to make it through. Hoy had already been crashed out by Josiah Ng (Malaysia) in the first five metres of the race, requiring a restart. Ng was disqualified for causing the crash, and from that point on, Hoy took command of the competition to win his tenth world title. In the final, Hoy went to the front with two laps to go and held off a late rally by World Cup series winner Azizulhasni Awang (Malaysia). Maximilian Levy (Germany) took the bronze.
Travis Smith was the lone Canadian in the competition, finishing fifth in the first round and then getting second in the Repechage (only the winner moved on). Smith had followed Hoy's wheel in the first round, but couldn't match the surge of acceleration that took Hoy to the front.
"No one let Hoy in (behind the pace bike), so that was the golden ticket," explained Smith. "When he made his first acceleration i went with him, but on the second acceleration, it was literally like trying to follow a motorcycle. In the second [Repechage] heat I had a plan: be patient, let everyone tie up in front, and with a lap and a half to go make my move. If I had had five more metres, I might have made it..."
Smith also admitted that he is still a little nervous in the Keirin after his crash at the Worlds three years ago, and is looking forward to the Sprint. "Today was better, but the Keirin makes me the most nervous. There's a lot of luck involved; the fastest guys usually make it through, but there is still an element of luck. The best guy could get knocked out by anything."
Does the crash still colour his approach to the Keirin? "Probably, but I'm working on it. Today was the best ever; no nerves except race nerves."
"I like the sprint, there's no crap shoot, and it's the event I'm most looking forward to. It's my favourite, and I'm hoping for a good time [in the 200 metre qualifier], and to get into the sprint rounds."
Women's Team Pursuit
This was expected to be one of the hardest fought battles of the day, and it did not disappoint, producing two champions. Australia took the world title over Great Britain after an extremely impressive display of precision riding. However, New Zealand, during their bronze medal ride against the United States, set a new world record of 3:21.552, which ended up being almost two-tenths of a second faster than Australia's gold medal time (which would have also beat Great Britain's old world record).
The Canadian squad of Tara Whitten, Stephanie Roorda and Laura Brown finished a strong sixth, less than three seconds off the world record pace, and setting a new Canadian record. The squad, in only their first year of competition won the Colombian round of the World Cup and finished third at the Beijing round.
"It was a good ride," agreed Whitten, "it's always good to set a new record and improve some more. We were hoping for a top-5, and maybe to qualify for the medal round, but to be three seconds off the best team in the world is pretty solid."
"This program [women's team pursuit] is only at the starting point; we all live in different places, and have maybe a month total of training together if you add it all up. After the Beijing World Cup the other girls were able to come down to Los Angeles for a ten day training camp."
So what do they need to work on? "It's a combination of everything. Laura and Stephanie ride technically well. I need to work on my exchanges, so that I can save my energy for my pulls. Ultimately, we need to develop a pool of riders, so that we can push each other."
Women's Team Sprint
This was all Australia. Despite Anna Meares crashing out of the gate (malfunction) in qualifying, she and Anna Meares were well ahead of second place China in qualifying and in the gold medal race, when they set a new world record of 32.923 seconds - the first team to go below 33 seconds. Great Britain, the former title holders, lost out to Lithuania in the bronze medal race.
Men's Scratch Race
A very impressive ride by Alex Rasmussen, gave the host Danes their first world title of the championships. Rasmussen was aggressive all race, and broke away by the halfway point to lap the field, taking Japan's Kazuhiro Mori with him. Shortly after the duo completed their catch fo the field, Juan Esteban Arango Carvajal of Colombia also managed to steal a lap, sealing the top three spots. Rasmussen rode towards the front of the field for the rest of the race to assure the gold medal, with Arango Carvajal finishing ahead of Mori in the final sprint to take silver.
Canada's Zach Bell, visibly recovered from his struggles during the Points Race, was active during the race, covering a number of breaks and finishing 11th.
"I felt I was able to use my legs better today than previously. It is unfortunate that my prep for Worlds was hindered by crashes and illness. I feel like I have some great fitness and speed at the moment but, coming in I just did not have the time to train up the third powerful energy system you need to be at the front at a world championships."
"This was a gamble I took with my coach, as this was the last event we had to try some new things before the Olympic selection begins. Unfortunately, this time things did not work out the way we hoped, but we learned some key lessons for the upcoming cycle. At the end of the day, we have still had a fantastic track season and I don't think the setbacks here should take anything away from that. With the new changes in schedule for the Olympics, this season was a perfect time to test out what will work and what will not, and I think we have come out with a balance of success and useful information that will lead to bigger, better things in the future."
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