July 14/02 7:06 am - Track Nationals: Final Day Story
Posted by Editoress on 07/14/02
Track Nationals - final day
By Kris Westwood
Two of the most exciting events in track cycling - the Keirin and the Madison - were the focus of the final day of the 2002 Canadian track championships today at the national cycling centre in Bromont, Quebec.
Following the lead of the UCI, which has included the event in the worlds and world cup for the first time this year, the CCA has added a Keirin event to the women's program at the nationals. And proving that she is by far the best woman sprinter in Canada, Lori-Ann Muenzer won the inaugural title to add to the sprint and 500 m gold medals she won earlier in the week.Muenzer will be competing in the Commonwealth Games in Manchester later this month, and the nationals are part of her preparation as well as being one of her objectives for the season.
Muenzer confessed to being nervous going into the final, despite having won the preliminary round with ease.
"I thought [the other women] were going to box me in," she said after winning the title. "They did a great job, except for the 'doorkeeper' who should have kept the door shut."
Muenzer found herself at the bottom of the track in third position with a lap to go, but she was able to drop back and come around the whole group to win by a bike length.
The men's Keirin final almost ended in controversy. Defending champion Steen Madsen was the man to beat, having won the sprint title earlier on the weekend. But he faced some stiff competition in the final, as he lined up alongside his brother Lars Madsen, Jim Fisher, Tyler Hansen, Keith Bruneau and Travis Smith. A half-lap into the race, as the six riders settled in behind the motorbike, Steen moved down the track and swept Fisher's front wheel out from under him, knocking him onto the apron.
"Steen crashed me," a furious Fisher said in the heat of the moment. "He didn't want me on his wheel so he crashed me."
Madsen, however, protested his innocence, claiming he was riding normally. Hansen backed up Steen's version of events, and while Fisher chose not to protest, he didn't ride in the restart, which Steen won by two bikel engths over Smith.
Martin Gilbert and Alex Cloutier teamed up to successfully defend their 2001 win in the Madison, finishing one lap ahead of Sam Wittingham and Mark Ernsting. Cloutier and Gilbert knew that Ernsting had an almost unbeatable sprint, so they decided to wait for their opportunity and try to gain a lap."It was just a moment of inattention on their part," said Gilbert. "I dove down the track and got a gap, and then handed off to Alex right away."Ernsting acknowledged that they were caught by surprise.
"We'd just done an attack, but we should have maybe closed the gap right away," he said. "We should have kept it to a sprint race."
Among the other finals of the day, the junior men's scratch race, which was run to the new UCI rules, proved to be as confusing to the officials as to the riders. Two riders, Ryan McNamara and Marsh Cooper, lapped the field. According to the rules, riders one lap down should have then stopped while the two leaders completed the final 13 laps to the finish. However, everybody stopped at once, and the race had to be re-started a few minutes later with just McNamara and Cooper on the track to decide the gold and silver. McNamara took the win for his first national title, which he said helped make up for his disqualification in the points race yesterday.
GeneviÃ¨ve Leblanc won the junior women's points race, leading a Quebec sweep of the top three spots in the event.
Leblanc, who has been living at the Bromont cycling centre for the last three weeks, said her tactics were inspired by watching Clara Hughes in the women's points race yesterday.
"Before, I was always attacking from the front," she said. "Now I attack from further back."