By John Wilcockson
There were only a couple of hundred people left in the ADT Event Center when Dutchman Theo Bos, the world sprint champion, burst out of the starting gate in the men’s kilometer time trial. It was the last event of Friday night on the first day of the Los Angeles round of the UCI track World Cup. On the other side of the track was Jason Queally of Great Britain, the 2000 Olympic kilo champion, who was using this ride on the newest American indoor velodrome as a nice try-out before the world championships at this venue in March.
Bos is notorious for his bad starts in the kilo, but this time his opening kick from the gate was almost perfect: His front wheel did kick into the air a little like a bucking bronco, but it was that speedy start that set him on his way to a time of 1:01.768 over the four laps of the 250-meter track. That’s phenomenally fast at sea level, especially on a surface of Siberian pine that is still, relatively speaking, drying out.
“I was hoping for a 1:02.5,” the tall, lean Bos told a reporter from Eurosport television. “so I was happy to go faster.” His opponent, the solid, dark-haired Queally was not so pleased with his second-place ride of 1:03.295. “It was okay,” he equivocated, “I was just surprised by the margin I got beaten by…. That was a superb ride by Theo. But I’ve qualified for the world’s now, which is an important thing.”
Another who qualified for the Los Angeles world’s, in a winning way, was the home favorite Erin Mirabella. The popular American veteran, who lives only 40 minutes drive away from the velodrome’s Carson, California, location, received the biggest cheers of the evening from the half-filled stadium as she cleverly won the women’s 20km points race.
Mirabella, the Olympic bronze medalist in this event, said, “It was a close race. There was a lot of really good competition, but I had so many people here cheering me on. It was amazing!”
Mirabella took two of the five-point sprints to establish a three-point lead over Ukraine’s Lyudmyla Vypyraylo going into the final 10 laps of the 80-lap race. Vypyraylo was the only rider who could still better Mirabella’s points total, so the American and here teammate Rebecca Quinn marked the Ukraine rider and weren’t bothered when Alexis Rhodes of Australia went away on a strong solo attack. Rhodes’s effort allowed her to take second place overall, while Dutch woman Adrie Visser took the field sprint that clinched her the third spot on the podium, with Vypyraylo shut out.
In the other finals of this successful opening day, Denmark’s Alex Rasmussen made a late break to lap the field and win the 15km scratch race; Tom Mulder of the Netherlands smartly took the keirin in a close sprint with French veteran Arnaud Tournant; Germany’s 2000 Olympic champion Robert Bartko, now a road racer with Rabobank, dominated the men’s individual pursuit; and Belarus Natalia Tsylinskaya handily defeated Russian Tamilia Abassova in the final of the women’s sprint.
There were a fair number of upsets on the opening night. Double Olympic champion Ryan Bayley tried some new tactics in the keirin, and as he said, “They obviously didn’t work.” And his fellow gold medalist from Athens, Anna Meares, struggled in the women’s sprint, losing her semifinal to Abassova, two races to one.
The Los Angeles round of the 2004-05 UCI World Cup continues Saturday with finals in the men’s team pursuit, points race and sprint, while the women have their 3km individual pursuit and 500-meter TT (for which Meares holds the world record set in Athens).
For complete results from the opening day of the Los Angeles World Cup, visit www.veloresults.com.