By Neal Rogers
When American Kimberly Geist took third place in the women’s 2km individual pursuit Friday, USA Cycling officials could breathe a sigh of relief. Though it was a narrowly won bronze medal, the host country was “on the board” at the junior track world championships, held in Los Angeles at the new world-class ADT Event Center velodrome.
After qualifying fifth behind Marlijn Binnendijk (Netherlands), Geist beat out Australian Amanda Spratt, winner of the points race Thrusday, to enter the 3-4 final against New Zealand’s Paddy Walker. Though Geist seemed to fade slightly during the middle portion of her race, she turned up the pace to finish with a time of 2:32.612, less than 3/10 of a second ahead of Walker, who rode a 2:32.911.
“She rode an amazing race,” beamed USA Cycling’s CEO Gerard Bisceglia. “It wasn’t just that she won a medal, but how she won. She showed a lot of courage.”
In the three finals held Friday, Germany, the Netherlands and China took the gold medals: Binnendijk repeated her top qualifying ride in the pursuit, while German Marcel Barth rode an intelligent 24km points race ahead of Australia’s Miles Olman and Jeremy Besson of France.
Barth, who also races on the road and cyclo-cross, showed all the poise of a champion on his way to the rainbow jersey, taking vital sprint points shortly after lapping the field on his way to beating defending champion Miles Olman (Australia), 38 to 36 points.
But the most dominant individual performance of this world championship event appears to have come from China’s Shuang Guo, who took her second gold medal in two days in the women’s keirin, easily outclassing her competition.
German Miriam Welte finished second for silver, the same order as the previous day’s 500-meter time trial. “[Guo] is just too good to beat,” said Welte, whose smiles revealed her satisfaction with a pair of silver medals.
When asked which of her three events she’s best at – she’ll also race in the sprint on Saturday – Guo answered simply, “All of them.”
Seven-time world champion Frederic Magne coaches the shy 18-year-old at the UCI’s World Cycling Center in Switzerland. “She’s extremely talented,” Magne said. “She will win tomorrow, and I expect she’ll win many more medals in the next few years.”
It would be a stretch to say the day belonged to the U.S., which trails far behind Australia and Germany’s seven medals each, but after Geist’s bronze and national sprint champion Michael Blatchford’s win at the morning’s 200-meter sprint qualification, it was certainly a step in the right direction.
Blatchford posted the fastest qualifying time of the morning, clocking a 10.696. American Ben Barczewski qualified 18th with a time of 11.223 and teammate Ryan Nelman qualified 13th riding an 11.081 as all three teammates moved on to the first round.
Things started shakily for Blatchford, who fell in the first turn of his first 1/8-final ride against Alexandre Volant of France. “That’s the first time I’ve fallen down on this track in a month of training,” said Blatchford, who lives in the nearby city of Cypress, California.
Things got even stranger in the restart, when officials stopped the competition for a second time. After a period of confusion, it was revealed that the pair had touched wheels. In the third attempt at a first heat, Blatchford led out the sprint and easily beat Volant to move on to the 1/4 final.
Barczewski lost in two straight 1/4 final races against Germany’s Maximillian Levy, eliminating him from competition.
In other qualifying heats, the Australian 4km team pursuit squad posted the fastest time of the day, riding a 4:15.365. The Americans will face the Australians in round one.
Men’s points race
1. Marcel Barth (Germany), 38 pts
2. Miles Olman (Australia, 36
3. Jérémy Besson (France), 32
4. Rafâa Chtioui (Tunisia), 27
5. Tim Mertens (Belgium), 26
6. Joo Hyun Wook (Korea), 25
7. Kyle Swain (South Africa), 23
8. Matthew Haydock (New Zealand), 23
9. Alain Lauener (Switzerland), 11
10. Sergey Kolesnikov (Russia), 5
11. Charly Vives (Canada), 2
12. Kota Nishimura (Japan), 1
13. Kim M. Nielsen (Denmark), 1
14. Chris Ruhl (USA)
15. Juan Bravo (Chile)
16. Alexandru Pliuschin (Moldavia)
17. Geraint Thomas (Great Britain)
18. Jiri Hochmann (Czech Republic)
19. Lars Jun (Netherlands), -20
20. Yevgeniy Maximov (Kazakhstan) -40
1. Shuang Guo (China) 12.298 (58.546 kph)
2. Miriam Welte (Germany)
3. Skye-Lee Armstrong (Australia)
4. Natalia Prokurorova (Russia)
5. Jane Gerisch (Germany)
7. Elodie Henriette (France)
8. Bridgette Broad (New Zealand)
9. Jennifer Loutit (Australia)
10. Olga Streltsova (Russia)
Women’s individual pursuit
1. Marlijn Binnendijk (Netherlands), 2.30.244 (47.922 kph)
2. Bianca Rogers (Australia), 2.31.434
3. Paddy Walker (New Zealand), 2.33.242
4. Amanda Spratt (Australia), 2.33.301
5. Kimberly Geist (USA), 2.33.448
6. Rebecca Bertolo (Italy), 2.33.587
7. Nina Köhn (Germany), 2.35.642
8. Florence Girardet (France), 2.37.348
9. Irina Zemlyanskaya (Russia), 2.38.476
10. Pascale Jeuland (France), 2.38.680
11. Stephanie Pohl (Germany), 2.39.742
12. Jarmila Machacova (Czech Republic), 2.39.974
13. Roxane Knetemann (Netherlands), 2.40.862
14. Natalie Klemko (USA), 2.41.972
15. Mylene Laliberte (Canada), 2.45.599
16. Elena Raspopina (Russia), 2.46.564
17. Naomi Cooper (Canada), 2.47.294
18. Berenice Castro (Mexico), 2.48.402
1. Kimberly Geist (USA), 2.32.334 (47.265 kph)
2. Amanda Spratt (Australia), 2.32.518
1. Paddy Walker (New Zealand), 2.32.663 (47.163 kph)
2. Rebecca Bertolo (Italy), 2.34.273
1. Bianca Rogers (Australia), 2.29.883 (48.037 kph)
2. Nina Köhn (Germany), 2.33.775
1. Marlijn Binnendijk (Netherlands), 2.30.243 (47.922 kph)
2. Florence Girardet (France), 2.37.118
1. Kimberly Geist (USA), 2:32.612 (47.178 kph)
2. Paddy Walker (New Zealand), 2:32.911 (47.086 kph)
1. Marlijn Binnendijk (Netherlands), 2:30.202 (47.935 kph)
2. Bianca Rogers (Australia), 2:32.468 (47.223 kph)