Posted by Editoress on 01/19/07
Track World Cup #3 Los Angeles
The opening session of the Los Angeles Track World Cup did not see any finals contested, but there were plenty of upsets, as numerous favourites did not make it through qualifying or first round action. Among those upset were Olympic sprint sliver medalist Tamilia Abassova (Russia) and Yvonne Hijgenaar (Netherlands) in the women's sprint, Canada's Travis Smith in Men's Keirin and David O'Loughlin (Ireland) in the Individual Pursuit.
Nineteen riders were entered in the sprint, so the top 16 would qualify from the 200M time trial. Normally, this would be straightforward for the top contenders, but both Abassova and Nancy Contreras (Mexico) didn't make the cut. China's Guo Shuang set the fast time of 11.366 seconds, followed by the Dutch pair of Willy Kanis (11.447) and Hijgenaar (11.500).
In the first round Hijgenaar was up against first-time World Cup competitor Liz Carlson - the final qualifier. Hijgenaar may have been too confident because she left the door open late in the second lap for Carlson to drop down and claim the inside lane. Hijgenaar dropped in on Carlson, forcing her onto the apron and was relegated, knocking her out of competition.
"I know she is fast, so I tried to ride from behind and wait for an opportunity to surprise her." explained Carlson. "Then she dropped down and ran into me. but is is pretty amazing to go on to the next round at my first event - holy crap!"
The other favourites made it through to the next round of 8, except for Oksana Grishina (Russia), who went up against former world champion Clara Sanchez (France). The quarter-finals only took two rides each, with Guo, Sanchez, Jane Gerisch (Germany) and Anna Meares (Australia) moving on to tonight's semi-finals.
With the exception of Smith and Josiah Ng (Malaysia), all the top riders made it through the first round, with Ng getting to the second round through the repechage. Smith wasn't so lucky. In the first round he was up against Roberto Chiappa (Italy) and Gregory Bauge (France), and in the repechage he was relegated for leaving his line and drifting up the track as the race entered the second last corner.
"It was crazy." he said "I locked bars with somebody and got pulled up the track. This wasn't what I was looking for."
Chris Hoy (Great Britain) has switched over to the Keirin after his Athens gold medal event - the Kilo - was dropped. His transition seems to be going well, with the big Scot not challenged at all as he led his heat from the front.
Men's Individual Pursuit
There were no real surprises in the qualifying round of the men's pursuit, with Vitaliy Popkov (Ukraine) the only rider to go under four and a half minutes. He will be joined by Fabien Sanchez (France) for the gold medal final, while former Los Angeles winner Sergi Escobar (Spain) will go up against Valeriy Valynin (Russia) for the bronze. Third through sixth were all within a second of each other.
Canadian national time trial champion Svein Tuft (Symmetrics), riding his first pursuit at this level started out very strong, with a 1:10 for his first kilometre, but then faded to finish 13th.
"I was feeling good and got a little too excited" he admitted. "But this is hard; as hard as a 40 K time trial. This just the start, I plan to stay with the track this year as much as possible."
Men's Scratch Race
The two 7.5 kilometre heats were both filled, with the top 12 moving on to tonight's final. In the first heat Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) stole a march on the field early on to take a lap, with the rest of the race coming down to a sprint finish. In the second heat three riders managed to stay clear of the field, who sprinted for the remaining spots in the final. Ryan Mckenzie (Canada) qualified for the final, while Marsh Cooper (Symmetrics) didn't.
Women's Point Race
The first heat saw five riders take a lap on the field, with world pursuit champion Sarah Hammer (USA) spending much of the race at the front of field to keep up the tempo. Hammer, her team mate Rebecca Quinn and Worlds Scratch Race silver medal Gina Grain (Canada) were among the qualifiers. The second heat followed a similar pattern, with five riders also lapping the field. Rochelle Gilmore (Australia) was among the qualifiers.
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