Posted by Editoress on 04/8/12
A question: how many endurance riders (male and female) here at the Track World Championships rode a schedule of a Team Pursuit qualifying, Team Pursuit final, Omnium (consisting of six individual events), and the separate Individual Pursuit event?
The answer: One. Canada's Tara Whitten.
Racing nine events over four days is not only impressive, you might also suggest it is a little insane. Picking up a bronze medal in the Team Pursuit on Thursday, Whitten was back up the following day to ride the two-day, six event Omnium, finishing in an agonizing fourth place. The dedicated athlete had never finished lower than silver in this event, and it was a tough result to accept.
Today, she rode another incredible Individual Pursuit time to clock 3:30. 407, ranking her fifth and just out of contention for a final ride off (which would have been her tenth competitive event for the week).
“I knew that coming in (to the Championships) there would be a bit of a question mark on what my legs would be like on the fourth day of racing: it’s a lot” admitted Whitten. “I was hoping they would still be good and they still were good. My time was only 4/10s outside my best time ever (which was in the Omnium yesterday) so I can’t be disappointed but I think that I was a little bit tired from all the racing.”
Of those who placed above her in qualifying, only one rider competed in the Team Pursuit on Thursday - New Zealander Alison Shanks - who also qualified fastest (3:27.268). British rider Wendy Houvenaghel (second at 3:27. 842), and Australians Amy Cure (third at 3:28.474) and Ashlee Ankudinoff (fourth at 3:28.869) were all reserve riders for their respective Team Pursuit line-ups, and all posted personal bests for qualifying (with Cure shaving seven seconds off her own personal best). It was the first time ever any rider had broken the 3:30 barrier on Australian soil.
“When I did the 3:30 I thought I would be on the bubble of qualifying, but I didn’t think there would be so many people under 3:30, so it was just a matter of how many? I think the track was running pretty quick today and I gave everything I had and it wasn’t just quite enough. I thought I was capable of making the finals, and on really good form but with the fatigue I just didn't quite have it today.”
Whitten is one of Canada’s most consistent and strongest track performers. The bigger race plan will be London so, while the results are satisfactory for the team, the more important focus will be the Olympics. And Whitten will be ready.
Report by Monique Hanley