By Andrew Hood
What should have been the third consecutive day of medal celebration for the resurgent U.S. track team turned into bitter disappointment Saturday when Rebecca Quinn was relegated in the women’s 10km scratch race after sprinting to third.
Quinn made a spectacular finishing surge to squeeze between two riders coming out of turn four to earn what most observers thought was a well-deserved bronze medal.
Moments after celebrating with her coaches, however, a UCI official whispered to USA Cycling’s athletic director Pat McDonough the bad news. By the time McDonough had a chance to review the race video, Dutch rider Adrie Visser was already standing on the podium with a bronze medal around her neck.
“It’s the medal that got away,” Quinn told VeloNews. “I don’t agree with the judges’ decision. There was some contact, but the rider I clipped was out of contention for a medal. She was being passed by three riders vying for the third sport, I just happened to be the closest to her.”
Quinn and other U.S. team officials thought she bumped a Czech rider, who they insist was being passed by several riders and out of contention for a medal. The results sheet, however, reveals that Lada Kozlikova was fifth and later nudged to fourth. There might have been some confusion among the team over which rider Quinn made contact with.
“They said it was a lane violation,” McDonough said. “It was a judgment call. There was some contact. The problem I have with the call was the girl who she bumped was not going to win a medal.”
What was in agreement among the American contingent was the contact was minimal and that Quinn should have been allowed to keep her medal.
“She deserves that bronze medal,” said U.S. endurance coach Colby Pearce, who added the scratch race is typically a close-contact finish. “That’s what this race is all about. Maybe it’s that Becky’s bike handling skills are too good versus the others.”
Quinn came into the scratch race brimming with confidence. Twice fourth in world championship competition, the 35-year-old Trexlertown product said she was inspired by the medal-winning performances this week by Brad Huff and Sarah Hammer.
Things seemed to be going sideways, however, in the late going of the race. Yumari Gonzalez of Cuba won gold after attacking in the final two laps and Maria Calle Williams of Colombia sprinted clear for silver.
Quinn seemed boxed in on about the seventh wheel coming out of turn two, but made a daring inside move to squeeze through a tight hole to snag third.
Unfortunately for her and the U.S. team, the race judges didn’t see it that way.
“I am extremely frustrated,” Quinn said. “I didn’t feel any (contact). The hole was there, I had to go through, it was tight. I really do feel it was clean.”
Quinn was hoping the world championship medal would be pay off for her hard work and dedication during more than 10 years racing on the track. Now she can only wait until next year’s world’s.
“I’ve been relegated before, but not in a race this big,” she said. “It’s kind of disappointing when it’s such a controversial call.”