By John Wilcockson
Theo Bos closed the Los Angeles round of the 2004-05 UCI World Cup the way he started it, with an outstanding win, to lead the Netherlands to a convincing overall victory. After setting an astounding personal-best kilometer TT time of 1:01.768 on Friday night, Bos anchored his Dutch team to a winning 45.163 seconds for the three-lap, 750-meter team sprint on Sunday afternoon.
Bos did not compete in the sprint, the discipline in which he is the current world champion, although he will defend his title on this same track in March; he will also do the kilometer and team sprint. “Today we did 45.1 for the team sprint; I think at the world’s the time to beat will be 44.4 or 44.3,” Bos predicted.
But in mid-winter, a “45” was an impressive performance by Bos and his young teammates Teun Mulder and Tim Veldt, a quarter-second faster than their opponents in the final, Germany’s Stefan Nimke, Matthias John and the giant Carsten Bergmann. The U.S. trio of Christian Stahl, Ryan Nelman and Gideon Massie were seventh fastest of the 13 teams, recording a worthy 47.150, almost two seconds behind the Dutch.
The home country’s biggest hopes for the final session of the weekend were 2000 Olympic sprint champion Marty Nothstein and Saturday night’s points-race hero Colby Pearce in the 40km Madison. The Americans began the 160-lap race strongly by timing their first acceleration perfectly, with Nothstein handing over to Pearce with 100 meters to go, to easily take the lap-20 sprint from the Ukraine, Czech and Australian duos.
After three of the event’s eight sprints, the Czechs Martin Blaha and Petr Lazar were holding first place, two points ahead of the U.S. pair, which was tied for second with the Germans Robert Bartko (who had already won the individual and team pursuit golds) and Leif Lampater.
But right after that sprint, an eight-strong attack (including the Germans and Czechs) created a gap and would eventually lap the other nine teams. “To be honest,” said Nothstein, “we rolled the dice a little bit when the field split … we didn’t really panic that much [because] I anticipated it all coming back together. That was a big group to lap the field.”
Germany continued to rack up the points in another strong attack with the Russian team of points race winner Mikhail Ignatiev and Nikolai Troussov, to draw level with the Czechs. But the on-form Bartko — who had a successful road season with Rabobank this year — wasn’t confident of matching the intrinsically faster Czech pair; so he set off with Lampater in search of another lap gain, this time on their own.
“The Germans were real strong,” Nothstein agreed, “especially when they went for that second lap.”
They not only went for it, but in just 10 laps (2.5km) they lapped the entire field to take a solo lead. The Czechs closed out the competition by taking the final sprint, to end up with 16 points, one more than the German, but finished second because of that lost lap.
The afternoon’s program was completed by two women’s events. In the keirin, American Jennie Reed led out the final sprint with 350 meters to go, but she was passed by all five of her competitors in the final. Britain’s slender Victoria Pendleton scored a surprising win, timing her sprint perfectly to finish ahead of the favored Anna Meares of Australia and the weekend’s double gold medalist, Natalia Tsylinskaya of Belarus. In a closely fought 10km scratch race, Russia’s Yulia Arustamova just took the win from Italy’s Eleonoro Soldo, with Britain’s Emma Davies taking third.
The 32 countries competing at the second round of this winter’s World Cup were complimentary of the new ADT Event Center velodrome and appreciative of the warm reception they received form the American fans. The stadium was by no means filled, but with another three months to prepare for the world track championships, there is time to better publicize an event that could see “house full” signs and a U.S. team even more competitive than the one that took part this weekend.
For complete results from the final day of the Los Angeles World Cup, visit www.veloresults.com.