Posted by Editoress on 03/16/06
Commonwealth Games Melbourne, Australia
Reports made possible by the support of MAXXIS tires
Women's 500 Metre Time Trial
Men's Kilo 1000 Metre Time Trial
Men's Individual Pursuit
The first day of cycling at the Commonwealth Games opened with timed events - the Men's Individual Pursuit, Women's 500 Metre Time Trial and Men's 1000 Metre Time Trial. Australia and England were the dominant nations, sweeping every medal but one bronze between them.
This became an all English affair, as the Brits swept the podium, led by Paul Manning. Manning went up against Rob Hayles for the gold, and the two riders were still neck and neck at the halfway mark. But then Hayles began to falter and Manning inexorably pulled away.
Hayles went out at the same schedule as in the qualifying round, but it proved to be too much. "I was riding a 4:22 schedule, but it was just a little bit quick after the earlier effort. I tried to hang on but it's hard to get back on top of the gear once your revs drop. Still, it gives us confidence for the team pursuit: we've got the top three guys here, and Chris Newton will join us."
Manning didn't get too stressed out by Hayles matching his effort, saying "You stick to the plan. It gets you where it gets you. Don't look at the competition; the only time you look at the competition is towards the end to see if you need to pick up the pace. But tonight, when you're ahead, it gives you a boost."
Stephen Cummings gave England the bronze, riding away from Jason Allen (New Zealand). Cummings was riding only his second pursuit in the last two years, with his warmup being a practice Kilo the day before in training. However, he has the credentials, including a second place at the Trofeo Laigueglia last month in Italy.
Canada had two riders in the event - Zach Bell as expected, and a last minute entry in the form of national time trial champion Svein Tuft. Tuft decided to enter the event last night. "Last night at dinner, Eric (Wohlberg) and I were joking about it, then we started to think about it more seriously and I decided to give 'er a go."
After a slow start (which almost saw him get caught in the first lap and a half) Tuft steadily picked up the pace, catching his opponent Muhammad Ahmad Lufti (Malaysia) and recording the 11th fastest time. "It was a terrible start; I've never done anything like that before, out of the gate. I was afraid of blowing up, but I had lots left at the end - I wish I had gone harder."
Tuft says that this won't be his last Pursuit: "I'm definitely sold on it."
And what about more race here in Melbourne, like the Points or Scratch Races? "We'll have to see if we start talking about it at dinner again!"
Zach Bell finished ninth.
Women's 500 Metre
This race had an extremely small field; only five riders. Kerrie Meares (Australia) set the early fast time, before Victoria Pendleton (England) replied with a new Commonwealth Games record time of 34.662 seconds. however, the final rider was Anna Meares (Australia), who is the Olympic champion and holds the world record. Meares didn't disappoint, breaking the previous Games record with a time of 34.326 seconds. Canada had no riders in this event.
For the Meares sisters this was a special event, since their parents came to watch. neither had seen the girls compete at a high level before, and after the medal presentation the sisters went up into the crowd and hung their medals around their parents' necks.
Men's 1000 Metre Time Trial
This was expected to be a showdown between Olympic champions Chris Hoy (2004) of Scotland and Jason Queally (2000) of England. The thought was Ben Kersten (Australia) and Craig Maclean (Scotland) would have to fight it out from bronze.
Nobody told that to Kersten, who put out a blazing fast 1:01.815 as the fourth last rider and hung on for the win, a third of a second ahead of Queally.
Kersten didn't let the competition get to him: "In my mind I was the favourite. I knew that I needed to do a 1.01; that was the time I had to do and that was the time I was able to do. It was two tenths off my personal best but the track is a little slower than Sydney."
The winner also admitted the home crowd support might have made the difference, saying, "If this race was in another country, I wouldn't have been able to dig so deep. But now the pressure's off, and I can have fun with the keirin and the scratch race!"
Queally admitted "I did the best I could do; I just couldn't go any faster. The better man won on the night."
The big surprise was Hoy in third, something that disappointed the Scot. "It was a very frustrating ride. Nothing glaringly wrong, but it just wasn't there tonight. I felt good at the start, started strong, but I faded in the last two laps. I got beaten by two better guys."
He shrugged off suggestions that he might have lost some of his passion for the kilo since it was axed from the Olympic program. "I'm really committed to the kilo ? if I wasn't I wouldn't do it. That's what makes this so disappointing."
Canada had two riders in the race, with Cam Mackinnon putting in a fine performance to finish sixth. "I'm very pleased, it's definitely a little better than I expected. My preparation wasn't 100%, because we have been focussing on the Team Sprint, so that makes me very happy with what I did, and it certainly bodes well for the Worlds." Mackinnon broke his personal best time two weeks ago at the Sydney World Cup, and did it again tonight.
Yannik Morin finished eighth, and was also pleased. "I have been having some trouble with my starts, so I have been working on it. This was a good ride - my best opening 500 metres ever. I dropped back a bit in the second half, but the time is my second best ever, after the Nationals (where he won silver). I hope this will help us in the Team Sprint as well."
- Morin is a former winter Olympian; a member of the two-man bobsled team from Salt Lake City in 2002 (where he finished 23rd, as well as top-10 in the World Cup). He only took up cycling in the summer of 2002.
- Tomorrow racing continues with Men's Points Race, Men's Keirin, and Women's Points Race.
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