Posted by Editoress on 01/20/07
Track World Cup #3 Los Angeles
Friday PM Session
The evening session saw six finals take place, with two Brits taking wins at their first World Cups in their respective events. Chris Hoy is making a very quick transition from the Kilo to Keirin, winning his first attempt in the event at a World Cup, while 18 year old countryman Russell Hampton took the Scratch Race win at what was supposed to be a training event for him.
The evening featured the semi-finals and finals for the top four women remaining in the competition - Anna Meares (Australia), Guo Shuang (China), Clara Sanchez (France) and Jane Gerisch (Germany). The racing took a turn for the record books, when Meares and Gerisch literally tied in their first ride - to a thousandth of a second, and to the pixel when the photofinish was reviewed. Thus, the pair had to re-ride, with Gerisch taking the first and Meares the next two to move onto the gold medal final.
In the Guo - Sanchez final, Guo crashed across the finish line in the first ride (taking down Sanchez), and then dropped down into the sprinters lane on the next ride, leading to her disqualification and giving Gerisch the bronze.
"I was really struggling after that tough semi" admitted Meares. "I've never tied like that before, although Lori-Ann (Muenzer) were separated by one pixel in 2004."
The final was almost ant-climactic, with Meares taking it in two straight. "This was one of the toughest sprint (competitions) in a long time. But Sanchez must have been tired and sore after her crash. I was surprised a bit in the last race at how Sanchez rode, though. Usually if she is at the front she rides hard and long, but she rode my style - short and fast - which was perfect for me to come round her."
The Chinese team were obviously upset at the disqualification, clustered around the officials for at least ten minutes and watching the replay on video.
As a sad sign of how far the Kilo has fallen since its removal from the Olympics, only ten riders started. Olympic champion Chris Hoy was not one of them. Times were ranging in the 1:04 to 1:06 range until the final rider, last year's Worlds bronze medalist Francois Pervis (France), laid down a blistering 1:02.255, a personal best.
"I was surprised to go so fast, since I still have a bandage on my back and am recovering from an injury to my vertebra. This is very good, since my goal is to win in Mallorca (Worlds), and last year II was third here and then third at Worlds..."
Pervis also commented on the dropping of the Kilo from the Olympics and the reduced field. "It is such a stupid thing. I would like to go to Beijing, but will mean changing to another sport, to the Keirin, and we have a lot of good Keirin riders in France."
Women's Points Race
This was one of the more exciting women's points races. Usually, one or two riders lap the field, and the riders cruise around between sprints as a group. This race saw constant attacks and counters, with no one able to steal a lap, and the final win coming down to the last sprint.
The early scoring leaders were Charlotte Becker (Germany), Leire Olaberria (Dur) and Wang Jianling (China). These three, along with Gina Grain (Canada) were part of a group mid-race that came the closest to taking a lap - gaining half a lap - before Hammer went to the front to pull them back. Hammer and Yoanka Perez (Cuba) dominated the latter half, with Perez moving into the lead after back-to-back sprint wins at laps 50 and 60. Hammer took the win at lap 70, tying the duo, and then it came down to who would be first across the line in the final sprint.
"I think the crowing glory that changed the race for me was the ten-to-go sprint. It was the one where there were two people off the front, I started gassin' it and I suddenly realized there was a chance that I could catch them, but I had to go completely all out, and after I did that, I absolutely blew myself, but I needed that."
"So coming in with just a few laps to go I was hurting bad and then (team mate) Becky (Quinn) came and she told me to get on her wheel. Unfortunately, I couldn't even hold her wheel because she was flying, but totally helped me out because the Cuban was stuck in the back and I could see that."
"With ten to go, I was either going to get the five points, but to blow over the top of everbody, but that really used all my gas up, but I knew that I had to concentrate and that I was tied with the Cuban. I just knew I had to beat her at the end."
Canada's Gina Grain finished sixth - tied with Jianling at 7 points (Jianling got 5th due to winning a sprint) - and called the result "my best (Points race) of the year. It was a great race, very aggressive, lots of action. It looked like we might get away for a while, but then Sarah went to the front and pulled us back. personally, I am very happy, because it shows that my form is on the right track for Mallorca."
Men's Individual Pursuit
This was no contest in the gold medal race between Vitaliy Popkov (Ukraine) and Fabien Sanchez (France). Popov was the fastest at every time split, and finished a second and a half up on Sanchez. In the bronze medal race, Sergi Escobar (Spain) took an early lead, but Valeriy Valynin (Russia) clawed his way back to win by a slim 39-hundredths, after posting a very fast final kilometre - over a second faster then the tiring Escobar.
Men's Scratch Race
This race was aggresive from the end of the first neutral lap. A group of 8 immediately split off the field and took a lap, with another group of seven doing the same just past the halfway mark. There was one rider in both groups - Russell Hampton (100% Me Team), so the battle became for second place, with Wim Stroetinga (Netherlands) and Walter Perez (Argentina) the most aggressive of the 13 riders on the same lap. perez tried to secure victory by jumping away in a group with 10 laps to go, and it looked like he would pull it off until Stroetinga literally caught him on the line to take silver.
Hampton is a first year senior - his biggest previous victory was the Junior Road Race title last year. This race was supposed to be "my first World Cup, so I am here for the experience. My coach didn't want me to go to the front from the start, but a group went away and i just sort of rolled onto it. The pace picked up and we were away for a lap. Then i watched for other (breaks), and got on another one the same way. No one seemed to be interested so I went across. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time."
Canada's only entry in the final, Ryan McKenzie, did not make any of the braek groups and finished 2 laps down.
Chris Hoy, the Kilo Olympic champion has switched to the Keirin, and this was to be his first World Cup attempt in the event. Based on his dominant performance and victory, it looks like the transition is going fairly well. Hoy appeared to be treating the event as a Kilo with a running start; jumping onto first wheel on the pace bike, and then riding a Kilo away from the other riders after the moto pulled off. In the first two rounds he opened gaps as big as 10 metres initially before coasting across the line first. The final wasn't quite as easy, since the Australians (with two riders) sought to neutralize him by taking the first two spots, to make him come around.
It didn't appear to make much difference, with Hoy still winding it up with 4 laps to go and flying by the front two. World Cup leader Ross Edgar (SIS - Great Britain) followed through on his wheel to take second; almost winning when Hoy eased up a bit early before the line.
"We had a plan" stated Australian coach Martin Barras, "but unfortunately our first guy (Scott Sunderland) wasn't quite fast enough. But we can beat him."
Hoy agrees that he will not always have it his way. "It was big surprise really. I'm enjoying it, because it is a whole new type of racing; the Kilo hurts more, but the Keirin is more interesting. You have to be flexible, it is always changing."
"Maybe I was able to win this way this time, but it won't last; I will need to find new ways to get to the front. I knew that the Aussies would be trying something (in the final), and I struggled to get to the front, but didn't make it. So with two laps to go I just hit it really hard and went by."
"But I need to compete against theo (Bos - Netherlands) and Arnaud (Tourant - France) at the Worlds to see how good I really am."
- Australian Sprinter Mark French has been sent home "for breaching the Cycling Australia Code of Conduct for behaving in a manner not appropriate for a member of an Australian team."
- Floyd Landis and David Zabriskie were in the VIP area last night watching the racing.
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