Posted by Editoress on 01/21/07
Track World Cup #3 Los Angeles
The Los Angeles round of the Track World Cup concluded on Sunday, with hometown favourite Sarah Hammer (Team Ouch) winning her third gold medal of the weekend in the women's Scratch Race. Hammer's one person team also took top honours for the entire World Cup, for gold medals won, and ranked fourth among 'nations' for total medals. A total of four medal events took place, concluding with the men's Team Sprint, won by Great Britain.
The Danish duo of Michael Morkov and Alex Rasmussen dominated the 160 lap (40 kilometre) Madison final, taking 2 laps and winning four of eight sprint competitions (20 points). The only two teams able to finish on the same lap were second place Belgium (Kenny de Ketele and Steve Schets) with 6 points and third place Russia (Konstantin Ponomarev and Alexey Shmidt) with 5 points. Argentina, Ukraine, Italy and Netherlands finished one lap down, and the rest of the field two laps.
The constant attacks and counterattacks splintered the field quickly, making it difficult to keep track of who was on which lap. Perennial favourites Argentina managed to gain a single lap, but were stymied in their efforts to take a second lap and finished just out of the medals in fourth place.
Rasmussen was one of the riders on the Danish Team Pursuit squad which had to re-ride the qualifier after crashing at the three-quarter mark, and then lost the gold when the team blew apart while going head-to-head with the Ukrainian team.
"It was definitely a good feeling today because I was so disappointed after the team pursuit. We were definitely the strongest in the pursuit but we just had a bad day. So it was good to get a win."
Canada had two teams in the qualifiers - Team Canada (Martin Gilbert and Ryan Mckenzie) and Symmetrics (Christian Meier and Can Evans). Team Canada got through to the final with a smart and tactical ride, but Symmetrics raced a significantly faster qualifier and didn't make the cut.
Canada won the third sprint in the final, but lost two laps to the leaders, leaving them in a tie for 8th going into the final few laps. An attack by Argentina with 5 laps remaining exploded the field, and put paid to any chance of holding onto 8th. They eventually finished 12th.
"We had a good ride" said Gilbert, "but the final sprint, we were in bad position and had no chance to get any points."
The first round of the Keirin gave a clear indication of who was going well, with the four heat winners moving on to the final. Guo Shuang (China), Yvonne Hijgenaar (Netherlands), Clara Sanchez (France) and world champion Daniela Larreal (Venezuela) were joined in the final by Jennie Reed (USA) and Sandie Claire (France). Guo went to the front after the pace bike pulled off and held the inside line all the way to the finish line. Larreal managed to put on a burst of speed in the final lap and edged in front at the line, while Reed followed Larreal to take third behind Guo.
Women's Scratch Race
Last year, Sarah Hammer won the scratch race by going to the front with 12 laps to go and keeping the speed high enough to discourage anyone from passing her. This year, after winning both the Points race and the Pursuit (in a U.S. record time), the Temecula, California rider started more slowly in the scratch, sitting at the back for most of the race.
Despite a few tentative breakaway attempts, the field seemed content to roll around the track, setting up for a final sprint to the line. It wasn't until five laps to go that Hammer made her move, heading straight to the front, with team mate Rebecca Quinn on her wheel. Once at the front, she kept up a fierce pace, and no one could overtake. Adrie Visser (Netherlands) tried on the backstraight, and managed to pull level before dropping back slightly in the final corners to hang on for third.
"The best thing about Becky is you don't mess with her when she's fighting for a wheel." commented Hammer. "We had no plan going into it, but It's kind of that unspoken thing where she knows what I'm going to do and I know what she's going to do, and so we're a pretty dangerous duo, I think."
"Coming in, I wanted to win all three, but in reality whether or not that would happen, you never know," "This morning I woke up and didn't even want to do the scratch race because I was getting tired both physically and mentally. But once I get on the start line, I'm ready to go."
Gina Grain (Team Canada) and Julia Bradley (Team R.A.C.E.) raced the qualifiers in the morning, with Grain making it into the final. She was sitting comfortably "in about eighth, but got blocked out just before the surge (by Hammer). before that the race was going really, well, I was really positioned right ... so, I'm a little bit frustrated."
Men's Team Sprint
The final in the men's team sprint pitted Great Britain against France, with a second British squad (ScienceinSport.com) going against Germany for the bronze. Matthew Crompton, Chris Hoy and Janie Staff were pitted against Gregory Bauge, Francois Pervis and Kevin Sireau for gold, and were neck-and-neck after the first lap.
Halfway into their second lap, Sireau rolled his front tire and went down hard, forcing a restart. In the re-run, Bauge put France in the lead after one lap, but Hoy put the Brits into the lead on the second lap, and Crompton maintained it to the finish.
Afterwards, Hoy admitted that he wasn't used to racing as many events, and the fatigue after the restart made it difficult. "It was tough, but it was the same for all of us, and the french guy must have been pretty sore. The most frustrating part for me was that we have been spending a lot of time working on our transitions, and I think I got it perfect in the ride that was stopped!"
"When I hit the backstraight on the final second lap my legs were jelly. The day before, I really felt the fatigue mroe and more through the day as the sprinting went on, so I had nothing left to give against Chiappa (Italy). I know that I have to work on being able to make multiple efforts. The speed is there - I qualified fastest - but I'm more used to making one big effort."
Canada's Team Sprint squad of Yannik Morin, Cam McKinnon and Travis Smith finished 11th, lower than they hoped for. "I had a technical mistake at the start", admitted Morin. "I think my weight was too much forward, and the wheel slipped. I think we lost maybe 7 or 8 tenths there."
"It wasn't what we were hoping for" agreed Smith. "We wanted something like forty six-five (46.5 seconds - they recorded 47.023). So, it was pretty frustrating."
The team knows that the program is under review, and an interview with High Performance Programs Director Kris Westwood (see Daily News January 2/07 12:15 pm EST - LA Track World Cup Team) said that an eighth place was required in Los Angeles. A time of 46.5 would have been 8th or 9th.
"We will have to wait and see what happens" said Smith. "We think we are pretty close."
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