By Ben Delaney
American Sarah Hammer’s trophy case could soon need structural reinforcing. The world individual pursuit champion added another gold medal to her stack with a win in her signature event during day two of the track World Cup in Los Angeles.
Earlier in the day, Hammer set a new U.S. record of 3:32.058. After the effort Hammer said she would just “put it on cruise” in the evening’s gold-medal match against Germany’s Verena Joos. Sure enough, Hammer quickly made up time against her rival, gaining time with every lap to build such a comfortable lead she sat up well before the line and waved to the standing-room-only crowd. Her time was 3:37.607.
Part of Hammer’s increase in performance could be attributed to time spent in the low-speed wind tunnel in San Diego, California. Before the track national championships last fall, Hammer worked with the engineers there to mold her body and bike set-up into a more aerodynamic package. The position they came up with was so radically different she decided not to implement it for the national championships. After that race, however, she began to adopt the new position, bringing her arms forward and down.
Whatever the cause of her speed, Hammer said she always enjoys racing at the Los Angeles track, which is near her home of Temecula, California.
“This is one of the most fun races for me, because you can’t beat a hometown crowd,” said Hammer, who got cheers throughout the night even when off the bike.
In the men’s team pursuit, Ukraine came back from a nearly one-second deficit to defeat Denmark. In the waning laps the Danish team, then still ahead of Ukraine, simply came unglued. As Dane Casper Jorgensen swung off after doing his final pull, his teammate Jens-Erik Madsen was nearly dropped by Michael Morkov and Alex Rasmussen. Ukraine’s smooth machine, however, kept chugging along and cruised to the win.
“The last K we just died, and almost split up,” said Madsen. “I couldn’t hold the rider in front of me. My legs were just blocked, I could not push the pedals any more. The last three laps were so long.”
In the men’s 30km points race, pro road racers Mike Creed (Slipstream-Chipotle) and Navigators rider David O’Loughlin (Ireland) rode aggressively, instigating moves and bridging across to promising breaks, but to no avail. They finished eighth and sixth, respectively. O’Loughlin made it to the finals by winning the qualifier after taking laps on the field.
“I had never done a mass-start track race before, so I wanted to either be off the front or at the back,” he joked between races.
Australia’s young Cameron Meyer took the win in his second World Cup appearance. Meyers, who netted a whopping three world junior titles last year — individual pursuit, Madison and team pursuit — said his experience helped him steal the win in the final sprint from Great Britain’s Christopher Newton, who led most of the race.
Meyer’s aggressiveness didn’t hurt, either. The 19-year-old rider muscled his way into nearly every small move that went clear, and scored points in seven of 12 sprints.
“These are my first points scored at a senior level,” Meyer said. “I’m really pleased with my results and I feel like I can go on to bigger and better events in the points race.”
In the men’s sprint, French powerhouse Gregory Bauge took two hotly contested rounds against Italy’s Roberto Chiappa. For the full last lap of the first round, the pair raced full-tilt, shoulder-to-shoulder in keirin style. Coming out of the final corner Bauge pulled away from Chiappa, who had exceeded his limit. In the second round the all-out sprint started later and resulted in desperate bike throws, with Bauge coming out the victor.
Lisandra Guerra of Cuba represented her country well in its first World Cup appearance on U.S. soil with a gold medal in the women’s 500m time trial with a time of 34.531, at an average speed of 52.127 kph (32.290 mph).
The Netherlands’ women’s sprint team (Yvonne Hijgenaar and Willy Kanis) took the two-woman event by besting Australia (Kaarle McCulloch and Anna Meares). Cuba’s Guerra and her teammate Yumari Gonzalez Valdinieso beat Americans Liz Carlson and Jennie Reed for the bronze medal.
World Cup racing continues Sunday with the men’s 40km Madison, the women’s 10km scratch race, the women’s keirin and the men’s team sprint.
2006-07 UCI Track World Cup Classics
Los Angeles, CA. January 19-21
Men’ s 4000m team pursuit
1. Ukraine (Lyubomyr Polatayko, Maksym Polischuk, Vitaliy Popkov, Vitaliy Shchedov), 4:10.063
2. Denmark, 4:11.005
3. Russia, 4:08.947
Men’s 30km points race
1. Cameron Meyer (Aus), 24 pts
2. Christopher Newton (GB), 20
3. Sergey Kolesnikov (Rus), 14
1. Gregory Bauge (F)
2. Roberto Chiappa (I)
3. Ross Edger (GB)
Women’s 500m time trial
1. Lisandra Guerra (Cub), 34.531sec (52.127km/h)
2. Willy Kanis (Ned), 34.864
3. Guo Shuang (Chn), 35.247
Women’s individual pursuit
1. Sarah Hammer (USA), 3:37.607
2. Verena Joos (G), 3:44.243
3. Maria Luisa Calle Williams (Col), by forfeit
Women’s team sprint
1. Netherlands (Yvonne Hijgenaar, Willy Kanis), 34.255
2. Australia, 34.761
3. Cuba, 35.531