Posted by Editoress on 01/21/06
The second day of competition opened in the morning with qualifying for the men's sprint, the Team Sprint, the men's Points Race and the women's Pursuit.
The men's sprint saw one surprise early exit, with Ryan Bayley not making the top-16 cut in the Flying 200M. The first round of sprinting had its own excitement in the heat between Jamie Staff (GBr) and Michael Blatchford (USA). Coming into turn three in the second lap, both riders dived for the sprint lane, with Blatchford getting in first. Staff pushed the issue, forcing Blatchford onto the Cote d'Azur and then back behind him. Out of the final turn, Blatchford came over the top and was clearly gaining on Staff. With 10 metres to go the two collided, with Staff going down hard. As Blatchford came through after a cool down lap, Staff then exacerbated the situation by throwing his helmet at the American, eliciting considerable booing from the crowd.
The official decision, according to Commissaire President Wayne Promario, was that Staff would have received a warning and relegation for the first incident (if he hadn't crashed). For the helmet throw he was ejected from the event. Promario said that video showed that Blatchford had not entered the sprint lane at the end of the race.
Staff had a somewhat different perspective. "I was in the sprinters lane (in the final sprint), and he came down and made unnecessary contact. As far as I could see it was dangerous. Yes, I came down earlier (on the second lap), so they probably would have relegated me. I understand that there are rules and regulations, but some of the stuff they calll is too fine.
Despite being ejected, Staff was happy with the way he is riding. "I'm pretty happy with where I'm at for fitness. This is my first race since the Worlds here (Los Angeles) 10 months ago, so I think I'm on track for the (Commonwealth) Games. From here I go to Sydney (World Cup) and then to Melbourne."
The session ended with the quarter finals, which were all decided in two straight rides. Gregory Bauge (Fra), Lukasz Kwiatkowski (Pol), Mickael Bourgain (Fra) and Blatchford all moved on to the semi's (tonight).
In Team Pursuit qualifying, World Cup leaders Russia will go up against the Netherlands for gold, with Spain and New Zealand fighting it out for bronze.
The women's Pursuit qualifying saw crowd favourite Sarah Hammer (USA smash the track record (set last year at the Worlds by Katie MacTier) by a full second to win qualifying. She will go up against Maria Calle Williams (Col), the Olympic bronze medalist in the Points Race. Dale Tye (NZl) and Yulia Arustamova (Rus) will go for the bronze.
- Travis Smith is assured of at least an eighth place in the sprint (and could go as high as fifth). He was beaten in two straight by Kwiatkowski, who just had more speed and held off Smith to the finish in both rides. Cam MacKinnon finished 32nd in the qualifying round.
- Martin Gilbert rode in the first of the two qualifying heatsfor the Points Race final. He scored a second place in the first sprint, but couldn't gain any more points, and didn't make the final. The first heat was particularly fast, with seven riders lapping the field.
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