By Ben Delaney
Sarah Hammer put to rest any ideas that she’s not a top mass-start racer with a gold medal in the Los Angeles World Cup scratch race, her third win of the three-day event. Hammer won the opening-night points race and followed it up with gold in the individual pursuit.
Hammer and American Becky Quinn repeated the tactic that put them one-two at last year’s World Cup scratch race in Los Angeles. Hammer hit the front with a few to go, Quinn battled to get on her wheel, then Hammer dialed up the pace so high no one could come around her. There was no need for the UCI officials to check the photo finish on this one.
Hammer said having Quinn to sweep her wheel gave her confidence.
“You don’t mess with Becky when it’s crunch time. She can get any wheel she wants and keep it. That’s a valuable person to have on your wheel,” said Hammer, who insisted she had no interest in competing in the scratch race at the world championships.
In the final third day of competition the women also raced the keirin. In the final match Shuang Guo of China somewhat hesitantly took the lead after the derny swung off. As Guo wound up the sprint, American Jennie Reed moved up from her sixth-place starting position to come alongside Venezuelan world champ Daniela Larreal with one to go, directly behind Guo. Coming out of the fourth corner Larreal swung up, over and around Guo. Reed held her position to finish in third for the bronze.
“Sometimes you just have to do the best with the position you have,” Reed said. “Being in sixth [to start] was tough, but I think I made a good race.”
The men competed in the 40km Madison and the three-man team sprint.
In the Madison, Denmark made up for a disappointing performance in the previous day’s team pursuit with a dominating ride. Halfway through the fast and furious action, only Denmark, Belgium and Russia were in contention for the win, with all the other teams down at least one lap. Denmark sealed the deal by winning four of the eight sprints.
“It was definitely a good feeling today because I was so disappointed after the team pursuit,” said Alex Rasmussen. “We were definitely the strongest in the pursuit but we just had a bad day. So it was good to get a win today.”
In the men’s gold-medal match team sprint against Great Britain, France’s anchor Francois Pervis — who had already netted a gold in the kilo — went down hard midway through the race and slid into the netting at the bottom of the track. He remounted, his skinsuit torn and bloodied, for the restart. But then the No. 2 rider, Kevin Sireau, struggled to get on the wheel of starter Gregory Bauge, whose lighting sprint earned him gold the day before in the men’s sprint. The French finally got it together and put in a good ride, but in the end they came up three-tenths of a second short to the British team of Chris Hoy, Jamie Staff and Matthew Crampton.
Now undefeated in three World Cup rounds, the British team turns its attention to the final World Cup on home turf in Manchester, England, where the team lineup has yet to be decided.
“Because there are seven of us going for the three spots, there are still some more trials to go through. And there will be more trials for the world’s,” said Crampton, 20. But the team of he, Hoy and Staff could be a good bet for the final World Cup.
“We all train together in Manchester so we’ve got good morale,” Crampton said.
For an in-depth look at the Los Angeles World Cup, be sure to check out the next issue of VeloNews.
2006-07 UCI Track World Cup Classics
Los Angeles, CA. January 19-21
Men’s 40km Madison
1. Denmark (Alex Rasmussen, Michael Morkov), 20 pts
2. Belgium, 6
3. Russia, 5
Men’s team sprint
1. Great Britain (Jamie Staff, Chris Hoy, Matthew Crampton)
Women’s 10km scratch race
1. Sarah Hammer (Ouch)
2. Becky Quinn (USA)
3. Adrie Visser (Ned)
1. Daniela Larreal (Ven)
2. Shuang Guo (Chn)
3. Jennie Reed (USA)