Posted by Editoress on 04/7/12
Tara Whitten of Edmonton finished fourth on Saturday in the Women's Omnium event at the Track Cycling World Championships. This is the first time in the four year history of the event that two-time defending champion Whitten has finished lower than second. Laura Trott of Great Britain won the world title, followed by Annette Edmondson of Australia, with Sarah Hammer of the United States taking bronze.
Monique Sullivan was the only other Canadian to compete on Saturday, finishing 13th in the Women's Keirin. [See our interview with Monique Sullivan Here]
Whitten was a marked rider through the mass-start races, unable to break away from her rivals. She did win the 3000 metre individual tme trial, her best event, and only six points separated the top four riders going into the final event - a 500 metre time trial. However, Whitten did not bring her best form to the world championships, as she works on a long term program for the London Games.
"For sure, fourth is disappointing," Whitten admitted. "There were definitely some highs and lows today. I did a PB [Personal Best] in my individual pursuit, and I thought I might be on a bit of a comeback, but in the end, in the 500 [metre time trial], I couldn't quite do it. I'll have to go back, see if there are any changes I can make, and learn from this in preparation for London."
"Laura and Annette are new to the Omnium, and very strong riders, so it makes the field a little deeper, and makes the bunch races all that more important. You can't just rely on a good pursuit to pull you through. My aerobic capacity was really strong, but my sprint was lacking a little bit. I just didn't have that top end, so I think coming off the London Olympic test event in February, I just didn't recover enough and get that speed back. It's not too hard to go back and get that for the Olympics."
[See our interview with Tara Whitten Here]
Men’s Points Race
Australian Cameron Meyer took third world Points title in what was one of the most exciting Points Race ever seen. The Australian seemed out of medal contention with less than 15 laps remaining in the 160 lap event, after three riders had taken a lap on the field earlier in the race - Ben Swift (Great Britain), Kenny De Ketele (Belgium) and Unai Elorriaga Zubiaur (Spain).
Meyer launched a strong attack shortly before the second to last sprint, but it looked like the top-three were going to reel him in. However, Meyer kept charging, working with Aaron Gate on New Zealand, and the chase eventually collapsed as riders exhausted themselves. The question became - could Meyer catch the field for 20 points before the race finished?
The crowd was going wild, cheering him around the track and, with less than three laps remaining, Meyer did gain a lap. Swift put in a late charge to take second in the final sprint but it wasn't enough, as he finished one point down on Meyer, with De Ketele in third.
The Australian has won three world points titles in four years, with a second placing in 2011. Despite seeming out of the contest, Meyer said he was never going to give in on home turf.
“I was going to fight to death and I got a sniff with about five to go,” Meyer said. “I put the boot in because I knew that was the biggest group, and if I could get across to it, that would give
“When I came over the line I had to wait until it came up on the board,” he said. “It’s a one point win, but one’s enough.”
Meyer appears headed for the road saying he will always love riding on the velodrome but it was time for new challenges.
“I’ve ridden six world senior titles now so I’m ready to start a new chapter and see what I can do on the road over the next few years,” he said.
Men’s Individual Pursuit
A huge last kilometre from 20-year-old Michael Hepburn upstaged teammate Jack Bobridge, as Australia went one-two in the men’s Individual Pursuit.
Hepburn clocked 4 minutes 15.839 seconds over the 4000 metres, 0.474 seconds ahead of defending champion Bobridge.
New Zealand’s Westley Gough defeated Australian Rohan Dennis for the bronze medal.
Bobridge burst from the starting gate to build a lead near two seconds at half-way before Hepburn slowly whittled it down to 1.117 seconds with 1000 metres. Hepburn hit the lead for the first time with only 375 metres left and continued to build his margin to the line.
“About a kilometre to go, I honestly thought I was not going to make it as Jack was too far ahead,” Hepburn said. “When I went to kick, I did not have as much as I wanted to, but in the end I did have enough and I am just so thankful to get up in front of a home crowd.”
Hepburn had qualified fastest in 4 minutes 13.224 seconds, the third fastest time ever. Only world record holder Bobridge and Chris Boardman from Great Britain have ridden quicker.
Anna Meares lifted the roof at the velodrome when the Australian defended her Keirin title after a controversial loss in the Sprint. Meares was fourth wheel at the start of the final lap, but used her power on the outside to hit the front 50 metres from the finish.
The 28-year-old crossed the line raising her fist, with Russian Ekaterina Gnidenko second and Germany’s Kristina Vogel third. Meares joins Frenchwoman Clara Sanchez as the only two-time world champions in the women’s Keirin since its introduction in 2002.
The Australian said she was confident of winning with a lap and a quarter to go.
“I knew that the girls would either be waiting or they’d commit to give me a nice target to run in to,” Meares said. “And with a lap and a quarter to go ... I thought ‘bugger it, I’ve got to go’.”
Meares started the Sprint competition looking the strongest in the field, but had to settle for bronze after a problem-filled semi against rival Victoria Pendleton (Great Britain), when she got knocked out of the gold medal round after a relegation. Pendleton went on to win her sixth Sprint title. The British rider didn't make the Keirin final, finishing 12th overall.
Meares said she dealt with her disappointment in not winning the Gold medal in the individual sprint on Friday despite really wanting it. “Aaarrgghh! After yesterday, I so wanted to fight hard for that one and I had to fight hard,” Meares said.
Frenchman Gregory Bauge, is the men’s sprint king of the boards after winning his third individual sprint title. Bauge was clearly the strongest rider in the field, but ended up winning in a disappointing fashion, after defending champion Jason Kenny (Great Britain) was relegated in the final race. Reigning Olympic champion Sir Chris Hoy from Great Britain beat Australia’s Shane Perkins two-nil for the bronze medal.
Bauge won the first heat of the finals comfortably. In the second, Kenny jumped Bauge at the gun to make the three-lap race into an individual time trial, forcing Bauge to chase, with the British rider pumping his right fist after crossing the line first.
But controversy occurred in the Sprint for the second night running when commissaries relegated Kenny for not keeping his line within the sprinter’s lane, and thus handed the title to Bauge. Unlike the women's decision, this one did not receive the boos and jeers of the crowd, since Kenny's move out of the sprint lane - forcing Bauge to swerve high - was clearly visible.
Bauge said he had one goal left for 2012 after winning the world title.
“The main event and object of the season remains the Olympic Games,” Bauge said. “Today has helped with that preparation and I don’t want to deviate from that.”
In the contest for Great Britain’s spot for the men’s sprint in London, Kenny placed a big marker ahead of Hoy. British Cycling performance director David Brailsford said last week performances in Melbourne would be a factor in deciding spots for London.
As in 2011, Kenny repeated his effort in beating Hoy two-zero in the semi-final. Kenny held off Hoy in the first heat and passed the 36-year-old in the finishing straight in the second. Hoy was unsure if that was the trial for Britain’s Olympic spot in the sprint at London.
“I’ll have to wait and see,” Hoy said. “I’ve had five selection rounds this year and that was the final and most important one. If Jason gets it, he deserves it.”
Laura Trott won the final event of the women’s omnium to guarantee the Great Britain rider gold in the six-discipline event. Trott led Annette Edmondson by two points heading into the 500 metre time trial, where the British cyclist finished first ahead of the Australian.
The British rider finished with 28 points, Edmondson claimed silver with 31 and Hammer bronze with 36, three ahead of Whitten. It was Trott’s second gold medal after she was a member of the British team pursuit which defeated Australia, including Edmondson, for gold on Thursday.
The British rider was confident of winning the gold medal after the fifth event, the Scratch race.
“Before the Scratch race I was really nervous, it’s such a hit and miss race, you never know what is going to happen and obviously all I needed to do was to finish one place in front of the Australian, which I did,” Trott said.
Full Day 4 results
Men Team Sprint
Track World Championships April 4/12 - April 8/12, Melbourne, Australia
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