By Ben Delaney
In the second night of Track World Cup competition in Los Angeles, riders in five events laid it on the line for victory — and qualifying positions for the April 13-16 world championships in Bordeaux, France. American Sarah Hammer took gold in the women’s pursuit, following a morning qualifying ride of 3:37.799 — a track record.
More than 200 athletes from 36 countries are racing in Los Angeles over the three-day weekend. A standing-room-only crowd of 3000 people filled the ADT Event Center Saturday evening at The Home Depot Center, banging on the upper boards and ringing bells throughout the evening.
In the men’s team pursuit, World Cup event leader Russia defended its title with a winning time of 4:08.726 over the Netherlands. With victory clearly in hand, Russian rider Nikolay Trussov, who had pulled out of the rotation with a couple laps to go, punched the air with his fist well before his team crossed the line. With a time of 4:10.098, Spain took the bronze over New Zealand.
In the women’s 500m time trial, world champion Natallia Tsylinskaya was unfazed when the mechanical holder released her bike prematurely. She regrouped, put her bike back into the holder and proceeded to rip out a winning time of 34.426 seconds. China’s Shuang Guo took second with Yvonne Hijgenaar of the Netherlands third.
And in the women’s individual pursuit, Hammer fell off the pace of her morning’s qualifying ride but still handily took the gold over Maria Luisa Calle Williams of Colombia. Hammer said her morning performance gave her confidence, but she pretended like she was in second place for motivation.
“I was hoping I would win but I never want to be too confident going into the final,” Hammer said. “I was definitely hurting but luckily I could see her the whole time. I never really got in my rhythm, but I could see her so I knew I was good.” Yulia Arustamova of Russia took third in the pursuit.
In the men’s 30k points race, newly crowned Russian champion Mikhail Ignatiev made multiple displays of form and confidence, attacking often and driving breaks. After the third sprint Ignatiev went clear with a small group that soon swelled to 11, including Greek rider Ioannis Tamouridis. Tamouridis, last year’s world silver medalist, claimed second place overall in spite of an early crash. In fact, Tamouridis quickly remounted after clipping a wheel and used his adrenalin to take the next sprint. Spain’s Joan Llaneras Rossello took third.
After America’s Michael Blatchford and Poland’s Lukasz Kwiatkowski were dispatched in the semi-finals, Frenchmen Grégory Baugé and Mickaël Bourgain made the finals an all red-white-and-blue affair, with Baugé taking two straight sprints to win his first World Cup. In the competition for bronze, Blatchford and Kwiatkowski each took a sprint before Blatchford took such a commanding lead in the final sprint that the Polish rider sat up with 75 meters to go.
Besides Hammer’s record-setting ride, the morning session’s excitement was also punctuated by Brit’ Jamie Staff being thrown out of the event for tossing his helmet at American Michael Blatchford. Riding against each other in a sprint qualifier, Staff and Blatchford simultaneously dove for the sprinter’s lane into turn three with more than a lap to go. Blatchford got there first, and Staff leaned down hard into him, forcing the 19-year-old to back off. Then, coming into the finishing straight Staff leaned up against Blatchford, who was coming around the top. After the contact, Staff crashed just before the finish.
“When the American came around again cooling down, Staff threw his helmet at him. So we disqualified him,” said Wayne Pomario, UCI chief commissaire for the event.
The UCI fined Staff 200 Swiss francs and ejected him from the remainder of the Los Angeles World Cup, but Staff’s Keirin result from Friday remains unchanged.
Results -Day two Track World Cup – Los Angeles, California
Women’s Individual pursuit
1. Sarah Hammer (USA),3:41.512
2. Maria Luisa Calle Williams (COL), 3:46.114
3. Julia Arustamova (RUS),3:47.711
4. Dale Tye (NZL),3:52.468Men’s Sprint
1. Gregory Bauge (FRA),
2. Mickael Bourgain (FRA),
3. Michael Blatchford (USA),
4. Lukasz Kwiatkowski (POL),
Men’s 30km points race
1. Mikhail Ignatiev (RUS),34 pts
2. Ioannis Tamouridis (GRE),30
3. Joan Rossello Llaneras (ESP), 28
Women’s 500m time trial
1. Natalia Tsylinskaya (BLR), 34.426
2. Shuang Guo (CHN),34.824
3. Yvonne Hijgenaar (NED), 35.182Men’s Team Pursuit
1. Russia (Klimov, Rovny, Serov, Trussov), 4:08.726
2. Netherlands (Heimans, Jonkman, Mouris, Terpstra), 4:11.531
3. Spain (Escobar Roure, Ferrer Garcia, Muntaner Juaneda, Torrent Tarres), 4:10.0987. USA (Creed, Friedman, Huff, Pate), 4:16.418