Dutchman Theo Bos crashed twice en route to his quarter-finals sprint victory on Saturday, then arose on Sunday to dethrone French world champion Laurent Gane and win the sprint gold medal on the final day of the world track cycling championships Sunday in Melbourne, Australia.
The former junior world kilometer champion refused to be daunted by either his injuries or his opponent and twice furiously powered to the line ahead of Gane, a seven–time world gold medalist who was a member of the gold-medal-winning French squad in the team sprint on Wednesday.
“It’s unbelievable… I can’t believe it,” said Bos, who recovered from two jolting spills in his win over Briton Jamie Staff and downed local favorite Ryan Bayley 2-1 in the semi-final before trumping Gane. Bayley rebounded from losing the first leg to beat Poland’s Damian Zielinski for the bronze.
Bos was feeling the aftereffects of his two falls on Sunday. “When I came here this morning and had a good warm-up I felt confident, but when I first woke up I could barely walk,” he said. “It was so painful, but riding the bike was okay.”
The plucky Dutchman claimed Netherlands’ sole gold medal of the five-day championships with France finishing the top nation with three gold and two silver.
As for Bayley, he was happy with his performance. “My goal was to set out to qualify for the Olympics,” he said. “But in the back of my mind I thought that I was a possibility for a medal somewhere, although I expected it to be in the keirin.
“The way I handled the sprinting for the whole week has been awesome. I had a slight mishap in the semis (against Bos) but I bounced back.”
Britain, Australia, Russia and New Zealand all came away from the championships with two gold medals 10 weeks from the Athens Olympic Games.
Anna Meares draped an Australian flag around her shoulders and soaked up the thunderous acclaim of her home crowd after winning the women’s 500-meter time trial gold medal on Sunday.
Meares turned a time of 34.342 seconds, then had to sweat it out with seven riders left in the competition. She couldn’t watch as each challenge to her standard came and went, including two-time world champion Natalia Tsylinskaya of Belarus, who finished fifth.
“It’s been an unbelievable experience,” Meares said. “I’ve worked really hard, but I probably expected this to happen in another one to two years, but to happen now is surreal.
“I was just trying to go for broke. I couldn’t see the time, but I knew after a lap (of the two-lap time trial) that I was up because the crowd was going wild.”
World record holder Jiang Yonghua of China took silver in 34.675 with Lithuania’s Simona Krupeckaite third in 34.788.
Cuban Yoanka Gonzalez broke the European stranglehold on endurance events at the championships with a stunning victory in the women’s scratch race over 10km.
Gonzalez dashed to the front inside the bell lap and held off Canadian Mandy Poitras and defending world champion Olga Slusareva of Russia to claim the gold medal.
“I’m still trying to comprehend it,” Gonzalez said. “We don’t have a lot of competition in Cuba, unlike the Europeans, so to win is amazing.”
Gonzalez said she made sure she was in front heading into the last 10 laps; the race was full of incidents and falls, with four riders unable to finish the 40 laps. Australian Rochelle Gilmore, a two-time silver medalist in the event, snapped a collarbone in a heavy fall, ending her hopes of making the Olympic track team, although she remains in the road cycling squad.
Argentine pair Juan Esteban Curuchet and Walter Perez won an exciting men’s 50km Madison by just two points from the Swiss defending champions, Bruno Risi and Franco Marvulli.
Argentina and Switzerland had the gold medal to themselves in the final laps after gaining a lap on the field with the South Americans prevailing by 7-5. The Netherlands were third on 18 points, one lap behind.
“Gold was not too far away,” Marvulli said. “We tried everything, but in the end we did not have the legs to make it.” –Copyright 2004/AFP
Final medal tally