Posted by Editoress on 03/17/06
Commonwealth Games Melbourne, Australia
Reports made possible by the support of MAXXIS tires
Track Day 2
Men's Points Race
Women's Points Race
Canada had a strong second day in the track competition at the Commonwealth Games, led by Travis Smith's silver medal in the Keirin. Australia continues to dominate the standings, taking all three gold medals on offer this evening.
Two days ago, we asked Travis Smith what he thought his best opportunity would be to medal, and he said "the Keirin - there is that element of chance which means if I can get into the Final I have an opportunity there." He turned out to be prescient, although it was skill, tactics and that element of chance which led to his second place finish.
The three Australians in the events - Ryan Bayley, Shane Kelly and Ben Kersten - won their opening round heats, but Smith and World Cup winner Josiah Ng (Malaysia struggled in theirs and had to go through the repechage. Both made it through to the second round.
In the next round it was again Bayley and Kelly in first place, with Smith finishing second to Bayley. The big upset was Jamie Staff (England) finishing fifth in his heat and thus missing the final.
In the gold medal race Smith hung back initially. "When the (pace) bike pulled off I rushed through to the front and the guys all reacted. This put me on the Aussie train, which was perfect."
Bayley was in front on the final lap, and Smith was following Kersten. "I thought Ben was going to crash...he came down on Shane (Kelly) and I heard their pedals clip but I just kept going."
Kersten crossed the line second with Smith third, so it looked like a bronze medal for Canada. However, upon review Kersten was disqualified, moving Smith up to silver.
"In the repechage I was almost disqualified" said Smith. The Kiwi (Adam Stewart) moved up so I shot the hole, but then he came down on me. But after the judges reviewed I was okay.
My season's been really good so far, and this is the best way to (almost) finish it off. This gives me some confidence for the Worlds."
Men's Points Race
This was one of the highest scoring Points competitions in recent memory, with winner Sean Finning scoring a staggering 137 points. Hayden Roulston (New Zealand) took second with 119 and Geraint Thomas (Wales) the bronze at 110 points. Canada's Zach Bell followed his national record breaking ride of last night with a strong eighth place and 60 points.
Finning lapped the field an astounding five times, and still had the strength to respond to the constant attacks. Mark Kelly (Isle of Man), Evan Oliphant (Scotland), Thomas and Roulston were with Finning when he gained his first lap, so the race was down to these five, and Finning proved, by far, to be the strongest.
Bell, with strong support from Martin Gilbert, was aggressive all race, and was in a couple of field lapping moves. In the latter part of the race he spent over ten laps out in front on his own, getting over half a laps lead on the pack before they reeled him back in. However, Bell scored maximum points in an intermediate sprint during his time away.
"I surprised myself a little bit. I knew I had good form after the Pursuit, but I didn't know if it would translate to a mass start race. Unfortunately, I missed the one really important move; if I had been there I could have been top-five.
This year, working with Eric (van den Eynde) has been huge; he has picked out my weaknesses and made them better. Plus, I have four times the international racing this year, and it shows. Working with Martin (Gilbert) has taught me so much because he has years of experience - every race he teaches me something.
This year has already been a big step up - yesterday at thepursuit, for the first time I was thinking, 'Yeah, I can ride with these guys.' "
Women's Points Race
Australians finished one-two with Katherine Bates taking the gold, and Rochelle Gilmour the silver, but Gina Grain came within one point of taking the bronze, just losing out to Kate Cullen (Scotland). Mandy Poitras made a late race surge to move up to fifth after the final sprint.
"It was so close ... To be that close to a medal; I can taste it.
I fought hard in the first three sprints and was accummulating points, but in the middle part of the race I had a hard time recovering for some laps and couldn't contest the sprints, which hurt me. But, I was able to come back with a strong finish, which brought me back into the game. I needed that last sprint, but I was just a little bit short.
I'm not disappointed - this is my personal best ride, and I'm happy with the way I rode my race. This is just my seventh international Points Race. Mandy and I worked together well. The strategy was that it was Mandy's job to follow Bates and cover moves. My role was to be aggressive - race hard, but smart.
I'm still learning something every race, and this makes me really confident for the Worlds next month."
|Return to Canadian Cyclist homepage | Back to Top|