Posted by Editor on 03/29/10
The 2010 Track World Championships concluded on Sunday, with Tara Whitten capping what has already been one of Canada's most successful Track Worlds with her second consecutive world title in 24 hours, in the Points Race. Three other world titles were also awarded, in the Men's Omnium, Men's Sprint and Women's Keirin. Canada's Monique Sullivan finished ninth in the Keirin.
Women's Points Race
A year ago, Whitten was frustrated and a little bewildered by the Points Race - she had the power, but wasn't applying it effectively. Move forward 12 months, and spectators saw a completely different rider: calm, collected and tactically savvy.
Whitten scored throughout the race, including in the first half, when she powered a group of five to lap the field. The race came down to these five: Whitten, Lauren Ellis (New Zealand), Tatsiana Sharakova (Belarus), Elena Tchalykh (Azerbaijan), Paola Munoz (Chile), although Munoz and Tchalykh were never factors after the lap was taken.
Whitten and Sharakova see-sawed over the lead, with first one, then the other gaining an advantage of a point or two in the sprints every ten laps. With 12 laps remaining it looked like either rider could take the title, but then Whitten made the second key move during the race when she launched an attack at the start of 11 laps to go, powering over the top of the field to win the second to last sprint, giving her 36 points to Sharakova's 32.
This put the jersey out of anyone but Sharakova's reach, and she would have to win the final sprint with Whitten scoring no points to overtake the Canadian. In the final sprint, Sharakova scored no points, but Ellis did, allowing her to vault over the Belarus rider and take silver.
"Last year, I wasted a lot of energy," explained Whitten. "I would never take time to rest during the race, attacking when it wouldn't do any good. One thing that I have learned was to time things better, and to rest between efforts."
"But this win, it was a bit of a surprise," she agreed. "The Omnium I've been working on all year, and I knew I was ready to ride for a medal there. This one, a day after the Omnium, was unexpected."
With her win, Whitten has doubled the number of track world titles Canada has won, becoming the only multiple world track title winner in Canadian history.
The second day of the Men's Sprint began with the semifinal round, to determine which two riders would go onto the gold medal race, and who would fight for bronze.
The first semifinal saw the two French riders battle it out - defending champion Gregory Bauge and world record holder (for the 200 metre) Kévin Sireau. On paper, it was Bauge who was the stronger, having set the fastest qualifying time and having beaten Sir Chris Hoy (Great Britain) in the quarterfinals.
Bauge did move on to the gold medal race, but it took three rides against his likely eventual French successor, Sireau. The other final also took three rides, with Shane Perkins (Australia) beating Robert Förstemann (Germany).
The medal races did not hold the same excitement of either the quarterfinal or semifinal rounds, as each of the French riders systematically disposed of their rivals in two straight rides.
The Keirin, as always, provides lots of thrills, and some spills to entertain the crowd. The top riders easily went through the first round, with Sullivan managing to qualify through the Repechage on a strong last lap effort. In the second round, Sullivan couldn't manage the same feat, finishing fifth and moving to the small final, where she was third (ninth overall) after two riders were relegated - Emily Rosemond (Australia) and Willy Kanis (Netherlands). The second round saw two top riders miss the cut - double gold medalist Anna Meares (Australia) and Guo Shuang (China), the World Cup champion.
In the gold medal final, the favourites were Sprint champion Victoria Pendleton (Great Britain) and Lithuania's Simona Krupeckaite. Krupeckaite led from the front once the pace bike came off the track, with Pendleton charging up from behind on the last lap. Unfortunately for Pendleton, she either left it too late, or underestimated the speed of her opponent, and the Brit had to settle for silver. Olga Panarina (Belarus) took the bronze medal.
"I was happy to make it to the second round, that's the furthest that I have ever gone," commented Sullivan. "We had done some tests in training, and learned that I was good for one really hard acceleration in a race, so my plan was to get in the right position, pick a good wheel and then wait for the best moment. Top-10 is a good result, and I'll take this away to motivate me to improve more."
Leigh Howard (Australia), the defending champion, and partner of Cameron Meyer in winning the Madison a day earlier, was picked as the favourite by many pundits, based on his all around capabilities. However, a poor result in the opening event - 11th in the 200 metre time trial - put him behind in the standings, and he couldn't manage to make up the difference as the day unfolded.
Ed Clancy (Great Britain), on the other hand, a Olympic gold medal team pursuiter, had clearly been working on his 'short game'. He won both the 200 metre time trial and the Kilo, which, combined with a fourth in the Individual Pursuit and fifth in the Points Race, made up for a poor Scratch Race (13th).
Clancy went into the final event - the Kilo - two points ahead of Robert Bartko (Germany) and five in front of Howard and the Points Race winner Tim Mertens (Belgium). When Clancy won the Kilo, six-tenths of a second in front of Taylor Phinney (USA), it sealed the British rider's victory. Howard moved into silver after finishing fourth in the Kilo, and Phinney moved up to third, just one point behind Howard.
- There was a tremendous amount of discussion about the statement the UCI sent to national federations reminding them that the equipment they use has to be available in the public marketplace. UCI President Pat McQuaid made a point of publically singling out the British, Germany and Australian federations as the ones that were flaunting the rule. The British, for example, burn their skinsuits when they are no longer used, so that the technology can't fall into outside hands.
A UCI spokesperson pointed out that the rule is not a new one, and is designed to ensure that technology doesn't overtake athletes as a requirement to win. He also agreed that the rule, as it stands, is somewhat vague on what constitutes being publically available at a reasonable price, and hinted that the UCI will be tightening up this area.
All of this, along with the stricter interpretation of the 'non-horizontal arm position' in timed events, plus various components (such as Bartko's handlebars) being disallowed, suggests that the UCI is sending a message that they will not allow a technology arms race as the 2012 Games approach.
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