By John Wilcockson
Never in the 40-year history of the kilometer time trial or 25-year history of the keirin had a Dutchman won a world title. Remarkably, within the space of a few minutes on Friday night at the ADT Center velodrome in Carson, California, the men in orange raced to gold medals in both of those disciplines. First Theo Bos, 21, won a superb kilo competition in 1:01.165, a record performance in North America, and then Teun Mulder, 23, took a dominant win in the keirin.
“We can train together now in the same jersey,” quipped Bos, whose latest rainbow jersey complements the world title he won in the match sprint at Melbourne last year.
In several ways, the kilo win by Bos was not a surprise. In training this past week, the 6-foot-3, 187-pound Dutchman had been burning up the track, “His lap times have been off the charts,” said velodrome director Roger Young on Thursday.
Also, Bos came to Los Angeles in December to get a feel for the new track in the second round of the 2004-05 UCI World Cup. He set a personal best of 1:01.768, defeating runner-up Jason Queally of Great Britain by a whopping margin of 1.5 seconds.
But the World Cup is not the world championship; and even though riders have had to make big adjustments for the world’s new date — March rather than the traditional August/September — everyone knows that you have to peak for the world’s. And that was the case Friday night.
The 6-foot 194-pound Queally, 34, who won a gold in the team sprint on Thursday, knew that he was on the form of his life. He was the 12th of the 18 starters, and was ready to pull out something special. He did just that.
After a relatively slow opening lap of 18.296 seconds, Queally, the 2000 Olympic champion in this event, got into a superb rhythm. He reeled off succeeding laps of 13.549, 14.163 and 15.222 to set an astonishing 1:01.230. It was more than half-a-second faster than Bos’s record of four months ago. “I’m surprised,” said Queally, “I didn’t expect to go so quick. It’s my best.”
But would it be good enough to beat the seeded riders at the end of the field? Aussie champion Ben Kersten came close. He was marginally faster than Queally on his first lap, but then faded on each lap to record 1:02.412, which was eventually good enough for fourth place.
Then came Bos. He chose a gear one tooth smaller than Queally, banking on making a fast start to overcome the Brit. It was a smart move as the slim Dutch rider zoomed through his opening lap in 17.912 — almost four-tenths of a second faster.
Bos gradually faded – only when compared to the inspired Queally! – and beat the Brit by a tiny six-hundredths of a second. There was still one man to go, the reigning world and Olympic champion Chris Hoy. The big Scot has a personal best of 1:00.711 set in Athens. He knew this track is not as fast, but he never even found a decent rhythm and recording a disappointing 1:02.262. Only a bronze this time.
The only North American in the kilo, Travis Smith of Canada, recorded a 1:05.263, which earned him 13th place.
Excited by the evening’s racing, the capacity crowd of 3250 was now ready for the final of the keirin. Already they’d seen two excellent semifinals, the second of which eliminated two potential medalists, Australia’s Jobie Dajka and Frenchman Arnaud Tournant. Both are former world champions.
Dajka was challenging on the inside of the track down the final straightaway just ahead of Tournant when the Aussie moved slightly to his left as the Frenchman was trying to overtake on his inside. They both lost balance, crashed into each other, and then careened on their backs for more than 20 meters before coming to a halt among the trackside photographers. Dajka walked away, while Tournant left the track on a stretcher, more stunned than anything else.
That spectacular crash allowed three others to qualify for the final: Shane Kelly, 33, the talented Aussie who is now trying to conquer the keirin after a decade of winning kilo medals; Brit Jamie Staff, the two-time defending keirin champ; and Spain’s José Escuredo. In the other semi, Mulder raced from the front to easily hold off Barry Forde of Barbados and Jan Van Eijden of Germany.
In the final, Kelly reluctantly took the lead behind the pace-setting derny, with Mulder fourth in line and Staff at the back. As the derny pulled off with two-and-a-half laps, Staff swept forward and hit the front with 500 meters to go. It was too soon. Mulder then moved through, accelerating gradually, and he led through the whole of the final lap, chased by Forde and Kelly, while Staff challenged on the inside.
But no one could catch the exuberant Dutchman, who won easily, with the German-based Forde taking an excellent silver medal for Barbados, and Kelly in third. “[Mulder] had so much power, I just wasn’t strong enough,” said the gracious Forde, while Kelly spoke like the battler supreme, saying, “I want to give [this event] a real go. I still think I can win.”
Not on this night though. The Dutch were supreme.
No home field advantage
Whatever benefit the home track advantage was supposed to have for the Americans competing at the 2005 world track championships at the ADT Event Center velodrome in Carson, California, it certainly was not evident on Friday.
The day started with four U.S. riders — Jennie Reed, Becky Conzelman, Giddeon Massie and Christian Stahl — being eliminated from their respective competitions in the morning session, and then ended with medal hopeful Erin Mirabella settling for a distant 13th in the women’s points race.
Stahl’s day was the worst, as the Connecticut resident got tied up with another rider in the men’s keirin qualification round, and crashed hard, breaking his collarbone. Stahl was taken to a local hospital where he was later released.
Massie also failed to advance in keirin qualifying, while Reed and Conzelman couldn’t escape the first day of the women’s sprint qualifying.
Reed posted an 11.775 in qualifying to notch 13th, while Conzelman finished in 11.985 for 18th. Only the fastest 16 advanced to the next round, eliminating Conzelman. The ensuing round brought a match-up between Reed and overall World Cup champion Tamilia Abassova, and Reed was unable to get past the Russian.
“I knew she was beatable,” Reed explained. “But I wasn’t as decisive in my move as I usually am, so I think it was a bit of a tactical error.”
In the keirin, where the top two riders from each of the four first heats advances to the second round, Massie was sixth. Given another chance in the repechage, he again failed to move on. “The keirin is a lottery,” Massie said. “Sometimes you get a lucky break and other times you can get the worst breaks possible.”
Mirabella didn’t catch any breaks either. Despite winning the World Cup race held on this same track three months ago, she said she picked the wrong gear for the world’s race and ended up with zero points.
“I definitely rode the wrong gear,” Mirabella conceded. “I needed a bigger gear for sure. I was too spun out so when the sprints came and the moves went, I was already at my max cadence and had nothing to react with. Because of my gear selection my normal style of racing was not going to work because I didn’t have the gear for the sprints.”
With Mirabella a non-factor, the women’s points race became a two-rider battle between Italian Vera Carrara and Russia’s Olga Slyusareva. Slyusareva, the reigning Olympic champion, was easily the quickest when it came to the sprints (She won four and scored in four others). But Carrara was the lone member of the 15-rider field to gain a lap (during lap 45), and that was just enough to give the Italian a 31-29 edge in the final points tally.
But just like the men’s race the night before, the final outcome was not decided until the final sprint of the 100-lap race. Coming in Carrara had a four-point lead over Slyusareva, meaning the four-time world champion needed to grab the five first-place points and hope Carrara finished out of the points. But Carrara dug herself out of a mid-lap hole, moving past several riders before crossing the line in second, good enough for three points and a world title.
“It was a very hard race,” Carrara said. “Even when I took my lap I could never relax.”
Australia’s Katherine Bates was a distant third.
Men’s individual pursuit
German Robert Bartko put to rest all memories of a failed attempt at road racing on Friday, winning the men’s individual pursuit. The 2000 Olympic pursuit champion had little trouble with Spain’s Sergi Escobar, posting a 4:27.732 to Escobar’s 4:29.930.
After winning gold in Sydney in 2000, Bartko did turns with both the Telekom and Rabobank teams, but he was never able meet expectations, and left the road for good at the end of the 2004 season.
“It was a big disappointment for me,” said Bartko, who is now earning his keep on the winter six-day circuit. “But this is one of the biggest events I can win, and that makes things better.”
In the bronze medal round, Dutchman Levi Heimans had an easy time dispatching Russian Alexander Serov.
Coming up Saturday evening
Saturday night’s session holds the intriguing prospect of two sisters contesting the two-up final of the women’s world sprint championship. They are Australia’s Olympic track time trial champion Anna Meares, 21, and here sister Kerrie Meares, 22. Kerrie missed the Athens Games because of an injured back.
On Friday, Kerrie and Anna Meares qualified only sixth and 10th in the flying start TT; but they both battled back to reach the quarterfinals, where Anna defeated the favorite Natalia Tsylinskaya of Belarus, while Kerrie disposed on second favorite Yvonne Hijgenaar of the Netherlands.
As a result, on Saturday night, Anna will face Russia’s Tamilia Abassova in her semifinal, while Kerrie races against Britain’s Victoria Pendleton. Both will be tough races to win, as on their way to the semi’s Pendleton defeated Canada’s Olympic sprint champion Lori-Ann Muenzer, while Abassova beat China’s excellent Guo Shuang.
In the other three finals Saturday, Britain, Australia and Germany will likely face off in the men’s team pursuit; while Russia’s Slyusareva will attempt to make up for her narrow loss in the points race by going for gold in both the 15km scratch race and the 3km individual pursuit. In the absence of the past two Olympic pursuit champions, Sarah Ulmer and Leontien Van Moorsel, Slyusareva’s main competition should come from her compatriot Elena Tchalyklh and Australia’s Katie MacTier.
2005 UCI TRACK CYCLING WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Day 2 Results – Friday, March 25, 2005
Women's 25km Points Race Final
1. CARRARA Vera ITA 31
2. SLYUSAREVA Olga RUS 29
3. BATES Katerine AUS 21
4. MEIFANG Li CHN10
5. VISSER Adrie NED 10
6. KIESANOWSKI Joanne NZL 7
7. POITRAS Mandy CAN 5
8. DAVIES Emma GBR 4
9. BECKER Charlotte GER 4
10. GUERRERO Belem MEX 4
11. VYPYRAYLO Lyudmyla UKR 3
SHARAKOVA Tatsiana BLR 2
13. MIRABELLA Erin USA 0
14. JAGUSIAK Katarzyna POL 0
15. WONG Wan Yiu HKG -20.
Men's Individual Pursuit Final
1. BARTKO Robert GER 4:27.732
2. ESCOBAR ROURE Sergi ESP 4:29.930
3. HEIMANS Levi NED 4:30.707
4. SEROV Alexander RUS 4:33.539
5. DYUDYA Volodymyr UKR 4:31.243
6. RYAN Marc NZL 4:31.887
7. SANCHEZ Fabien FRA 4:32.087
8. JAMIESON Mark AUS 4:32.146
9. CANCIO Sebastian ARG 4:32.231
10. MOURIS Jens NED 4:32.969
11. BENGSCH Robert GER 4:33.452
12. GODFREY Hayden NZL 4:35.154
13. YUDA Yuriy KAZ 4:36.422
14. HAYLES Robert GBR 4:36.533
15. KHATUNTSEV Alexander RUS 4:38.511
16. MAZZOLANI Alessandro ITA 4:42.351
17. LISOUSKI Aliaksandr BLR 4:42.573
18. LEA Robert USA 4:44.120
19. UCHIDA Kei JPN 4:47.601
20. KONONENKO Roman UKR 4:52.930
HAYDOCK Matthew NZL
Men's One Kilometer Time Trial
1. BOS Theo NED 1:01.165
2. QUEALLY Jason GBR 1:01.230
3. HOY Chris GBR 1:02.262
4. KERSTEN Ben AUS 1:02.412
5. NIMKE Stefan GER 1:02.812
6. BERGEMANN Carsten GER 1:03.161
7. PERVIS François FRA 1:03.177
8. KANKOVSKY Alois CZE 1:03.279
9. VELDT Tim NED 1:03.330
10. GANE Hervé FRA 1:04.038
11. KUCZYNSKI Kamil POL 1:04.631
12. HENRIETTE Didier FRA 1:04.925
13. SMITH Travis CAN 1:05.263
14. OIKAWA Yusho JPN 1:05.842
15. MANTZOURANIS Athanasios GRE 1:06.210
16. KULACHKOVSKIY Vitaliy UKR 1:06.271
17. WONG Kin Chung HKG 1:06.484
18. BARGKAS Kleanthis GRE 1:07.102
Men's Keirin Final
1. MULDER Teun NED
2. FORDE Barry BAR
3. KELLY Shane John AUS
4. STAFF Jamie GBR
5. VAN EIJDEN Jan GER
6. ESCUREDO RAIMONDEZ José Antonio ESP
7. WOLFF René GER
8. EDGAR Ross GBR
9. VILLANUEVA TRINIDAD José Antonio ESP
10. BOURGAIN Mickaël FRA
DAJKA Jobie AUS
TOURNANT Arnaud FRA