Posted by Editoress on 02/18/15
The 2015 UCI Track World Championships opened in St-Quentin-en-Yvelines, France, on Wednesday with a world record time set, plus a win for the host nation.
Canada had a third place in Women's Team Pursuit qualifying, keeping them in the hunt for a medal ride tomorrow, when they go up against Great Britain in the second round of racing. A win would put the team of Allison Beveridge, Jasmin Glaesser, Kirsti Lay and Steph Roorda in the gold medal final, while a third or fourth overall in the second round would put them into the bronze medal race.
"The time was close to what we were shooting for," said Roorda, "we might be a little bit disappointed because we were hoping to maybe get a couple of more seconds. But it's the fastest we've gone [at sea level]. First would have been best, but we can still get into the gold medal round with third."
Germany's Stephanie Pohl was the dominant rider of the Points Race, taking a lap on the field and winning two intermediate sprints for a total of 38 points. Japan's Minami Uwano finished second with 28 points and Kimberly Geist of the United States won the bronze medal with 25 points. Canada did not have a rider entered.
Pohl, who finished second at last year's world championships, said "I felt really good, much better than last year. I was able to get a lap and then made sure no one else got away. This year my family is here and I am so happy to win for them."
China is a perennial favourite in the Team Sprint, winning four silver and two bronze medals in the past eight years, but this year was the one where they finally took gold. After qualifying second to European champions Russia, the Chinese team of Jinjie Gong and Tianshi Zhong put together a world record run in the gold medal final, knocking 0.119 seconds off the time of defending champion Germany. Australia took the bronze medal ahead of Germany.
Canada's team of Monique Sullivan and Kate O'Brien set a second fastest ever Canadian time at sea level, at 34.994 seconds for 12th place, with O'Brien making a fast transition from racing the Bobsleigh World Cup last weekend.
"I wasn't super happy with the ride," O'Brien admitted. "I felt a bit off in the start, so it's something I have to work on. But I think Monique rode really well, and it's exciting to be able to come to Worlds in my first year."
The men's Team Sprint saw some drama, with first place qualifier and defending champion New Zealand initially beating France in the gold medal race, only to get relegated to the silver medal after it was determined they made an exchange between the first and second rider outside of the transition zone. The disappointment of the Kiwis was palpable when the building erupted in cheers after the relegation was announced, and the French team of Gregory Bauge, Kevin Sireau and Michael d'Almeida were declared the winners. Germany defeated Russia to take the bronze medal.
"It's amazing. Incredible," said Bauge. "We knew nothing about the change. Maybe 10 minutes after the finish we are told 'you are World Champion', I guess because of the rules? It is a good start for Team France. Good for the public, good for the team. Tomorrow is another race [Keirin]. I hope I can get a medal."
The Canadian men's team of Hugo Barrette, Joe Veloce and Evan Carey also had a promising result, knocking six-tenths of a second off their previous best sea level time to finish 13th.
"It feels pretty good going 44.4 [seconds]," agreed Barrette, "six-tenths better than our last sea level record. It's inspiring for what's to come. We're still a development team, and Evan Carey, a rookie, did the best he could and we are really pleased with the improvement we have made."
The action continues on Thursday, with the final round of the Team Pursuit for women and men, the Men's Keirin, Women's 500 metre Time Trial and the Men's Scratch Race.