Wiggins sets new standard in pursuit Defending champion Bradley Wiggins set a new Olympic record of four minutes 15.031 seconds in

By Agence France Presse

Beijing Olympic Track: Bradley Wiggins set a new Olympic record.
Beijing Olympic Track: Bradley Wiggins set a new Olympic record.

Photo: Graham Watson

Wiggins sets new standard in pursuit

Defending champion Bradley Wiggins set a new Olympic record of four minutes 15.031 seconds in winning his qualifying heat for the men’s individual pursuit cycling at the Laoshan Velodrome on Friday.

American Taylor Phinney finished seventh, made the cut and will enter Saturday’s round of pursuit rides ahead of the final medal rounds.

Needing a top-eight finish to advance, Phinney locked up a head-to-head match against New Zealand’s Hayden Roulston. Seeded second, Roulston clocked a 4:18.990 in his qualifying heat. On Saturday, Phinney needs to beat Roulston in order to advance to the medal round.

Phinney, winner of this year’s Los Angeles World Cup, clocked consistent splits in his 4:22.860 finishing time — a time on par with his performance from worlds. But the 18-year-old could barely keep himself upright after finishing, and appeared tired and sluggish after warming down.

“No, it didn’t go according to plan. I thought the track would be a little bit faster,” Phinney said. “I feel satisfied that I did give it everything that I had. I’ve never felt like that after a pursuit. I couldn’t even walk down the ramp. You never know. Tomorrow is a different day.”

Phinney’s mother, 1984 Olympic gold medalist Connie Carpenter, sent an email to friends and supporters after the race.

“Taylor went out blazingly fast — and indeed had the fastest first lap and third fastest first kilometer, but it was probably a bit too fast,” Carpenter wrote. “He held his own, though and rode a very steady race. Taylor gave his all today and almost had to be helped off the track. Once we realized he had qualified for the top 8 — the gathered group gave a big cheer (we were about 20 strong today). We are all very proud to be here with him. Yes!”

Wiggins brushed aside concerns over a recent virus by hammering over 16 laps on the 250m track to pip his old record of 4:15.165, still a few seconds shy of fellow Briton Chris Boardman’s world record of 4:11.114.

New Zealand’s Hayden Roulston signaled his gold medal intentions by winning his heat in a time of 4:18.990 to finish second fastest while Russian Alexei Markov won his heat to finish third fastest in 4:21.530.

Ukrainian Volodymyr Dyuda finished fourth.

One of the biggest shocks of the session was the failure of either of Australia’s two pursuit riders, Brad McGee and Brett Lancaster, to qualify among the fastest eight.

Beijing Olympic Track: Phinney recovers from his effort.
Beijing Olympic Track: Phinney recovers from his effort.

Photo: Graham Watson

The eight-man first round, from which the four fastest riders qualify for the medal rounds, is held on Saturday. McGee, the silver medalist in Athens four years ago, said he had failed badly in his quest to make the medals round.

“That was not the Bradley McGee I expected to be. You come in with a positive mindset and in really good shape, but it just didn’t turn out,” said McGee.

Roulston admitted he faces a big ask if he makes it to Saturday’s final.

“I think anyone is beatable but you have to cut your head off to beat Bradley (Wiggins),” said the New Zealander. “Anything can happen.”

Also qualified is Britain’s Steven Burke, Spaniard Antonio Tauler, Phinney and Alexander Serov of Russia.

Men’s pursuit – qualifying round
1. Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain), 4:15.031 (56.463kph)
2. Hayden Roulston (New Zealand), 4:18.990
3. Alexei Markov (Russian Fed), 4:21.498
4. Volodymyr Dyudya (Ukraine), 4:21.530
5. Steven Burke (Great Britain), 4:22.260
6. Antonio Tauler (Spain), 4:22.462
7. Taylor Phinney (United States), 4:22.860
8. Alexander Serov (Russian Fed), 4:23.732
9. Bradley McGee (Australia), 4:26.084
10. Sergi Escobar (Spain), 4:26.102
11. David O’Loughlin (Ireland), 4:26.102
12. Brett Lancaster (Australia), 4:26.139
13. Jens Mouris (Netherlands), 4:27.445
14. Vitaliy Popkov (Ukraine), 4:30.321
15. Fabien Sanchez (France), 4:33.100
16. Carlos Alzate (Colombia), 4:35.154
17. Alexandr Pliuschin (Rep. of Moldova), 4:35.438
18. Jenning Huizenga (Netherlands), 4:37.097

British women set top marks in pursuit qualifiers

Wendy Houvenaghel clocked the fastest time of qualifying for the women’s Olympic individual pursuit here Friday to further boost Britain’s medal chances.

Beijing Olympic Track:Wendy Houvenaghel set the fastest time in qualifying.
Beijing Olympic Track:Wendy Houvenaghel set the fastest time in qualifying.

Photo: Graham Watson

The northern-Irishwoman, a bronze medal winner at world level, clocked 3min 28.4sec for the 3km race against the clock to claim her place in the first round alongside reigning world champion and teammate Rebecca Romero.

The British duo’s performances have raised the bar for the likes of American Sarah Hammer and Australian Katie Mactier.

Hammer, who gave up the first of her two world titles to Romero at the world championships in March, could only finish fifth fastest in a time of 3:35.471.

Hammer, the ’06 and ’07 world champ faded in the back half of the 3000-meter race to finish about four seconds than her silver-medal ride at the 2008 world championships. The American appeared stiff and nervous on her bicycle, and was nearly caught by Houvenaghel.

“Ugly — for me personally, that’s now how I hope to feel when I race,” Hammer said. “I was out there going ‘Oh my God I can’t do anything about this!” It was just a bad day. I stumbled out of the gate. I was nervous.”

Hammer’s ride was good enough to qualify for the finals, and she will square off in Saturday’s semi finals against Alison Shanks of New Zealand.

Mactier, a silver medalist in the event at Athens, finished seventh fastest from the field in a time of 3:38.178.

Ukrainian Lesya Kalitovska meanwhile boosted her medal chances by finishing third fastest in 3:31.942, with New Zealand’s Alison Shanks fourth.

Vilija Sereikaite of Lithuania was sixth while Lada Kozlikova of the Czech Republic did enough in her ride to qualify last of the field, depriving Switzerland’s Olympic road bronze medalist Karin Thurig.

The first round of the women’s pursuit will be held Saturday. The four fastest times from that round give entry to the medals rounds.

Women’s pursuit – qualifying ride
1. Wendy Houvenaghel (Great Britain), 3:28.443 (51.812kph)
2. Rebecca Romero (Great Britain), 3:28.641
3. Lesya Kalitovska (Ukraine), 3:31.942
4. Alison Shanks (New Zealand), 3:34.312
5. Sarah Hammer (United States), 3:35.471
6. Vilija Sereikaite (Lithuania), 3:36.063
7. Katie Mactier (Australia), 3:38.178
8. Lada Kozlikova (Czech Republic), 3:39.561
9. Karin Thurig (Switzerland), 3:40.862
10. Maria Luisa Calle (Colombia), 3:41.175
11. Verena Jooss (Germany), 3:44.480
12. Svetlana Pauliukaite (Lithuania), 3:45.691
13. Evelyn Garcia (El Salvador), 3:56.849

VeloNews’ Fred Dreier contributed to this report

Photo Gallery

Results

Men’s pursuit – qualifying round
1. Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain), 4:15.031 (56.463kph)
2. Hayden Roulston (New Zealand), 4:18.990
3. Alexei Markov (Russian Fed), 4:21.498
4. Volodymyr Dyudya (Ukraine), 4:21.530
5. Steven Burke (Great Britain), 4:22.260
6. Antonio Tauler (Spain), 4:22.462
7. Taylor Phinney (United States), 4:22.860
8. Alexander Serov (Russian Fed), 4:23.732
9. Bradley McGee (Australia), 4:26.084
10. Sergi Escobar (Spain), 4:26.102
11. David O’Loughlin (Ireland), 4:26.102
12. Brett Lancaster (Australia), 4:26.139
13. Jens Mouris (Netherlands), 4:27.445
14. Vitaliy Popkov (Ukraine), 4:30.321
15. Fabien Sanchez (France), 4:33.100
16. Carlos Alzate (Colombia), 4:35.154
17. Alexandr Pliuschin (Rep. of Moldova), 4:35.438
18. Jenning Huizenga (Netherlands), 4:37.097

Women’s pursuit – qualifying ride
1. Wendy Houvenaghel (Great Britain), 3:28.443 (51.812kph)
2. Rebecca Romero (Great Britain), 3:28.641
3. Lesya Kalitovska (Ukraine), 3:31.942
4. Alison Shanks (New Zealand), 3:34.312
5. Sarah Hammer (United States), 3:35.471
6. Vilija Sereikaite (Lithuania), 3:36.063
7. Katie Mactier (Australia), 3:38.178
8. Lada Kozlikova (Czech Republic), 3:39.561
9. Karin Thurig (Switzerland), 3:40.862
10. Maria Luisa Calle (Colombia), 3:41.175
11. Verena Jooss (Germany), 3:44.480
12. Svetlana Pauliukaite (Lithuania), 3:45.691
13. Evelyn Garcia (El Salvador), 3:56.849