By Andrew Hood
Charles Bradley Huff couldn’t quite believe it when he ended up with a bronze medal in the inaugural world track championship omnium.
The Slipstream-Chipotle rider has been suffering through a chest cold, a two-day bout of diarrhea and self-described “bad legs,” but consistency and a third-place in the day’s fifth and final event in the kilometer time trial pushed him onto the medal’s podium.
“To have such bad legs today yet it’s exciting that I was able to get third somehow,” said Huff. “It just shows in cycling as much as you suffer, you have good days and bad days, you gotta get on your bike and just pedal, and sometimes you can get something out of it. I feel blessed to get third, but very frustrated at how my legs were.”
Alois Kankovsky of the Czech Republic won with 19 points and Fernando Pérez of Colombia took silver with 28 points. Huff was third with 37.
A sort of cycling pentathlon, the omnium included five events: a 200m flying start time trial, a 5K scratch race, a 3K individual pursuit, a 15K points race and a 1K time trial. The rider with the least points won – essentially, the better a rider performed, the fewer points he scored.
Huff ended up tied with Aliaksandr Lisouski of Belorussia, but won the tiebreaker by less than a second based on the combined time of the three timed events.
“I am ecstatic,” he said. “I can’t believe it worked out, especially after every event, I would say, ‘Colby [Pearce], this is horrible, I don’t know, this is just bad.’ He’d say, ‘Okay, Brad, you’re consistent, you’re still in there in, hang on.’”
Huff entered the final kilo’ time trial in eighth, but buried himself to finish third. That was enough to push him onto the final podium.
The Missouri sprinter was wondering out loud that he might have been bucking instead for gold in the unique, five-event omnium if he had been in top shape.
“I had no doubt that I could have competed with Perez and the Czech that won, because I was doing it with them in Manchester,” Huff said.
Wiggins storms to gold
It was a golden homecoming for Bradley Wiggins, who erased a four-year absence from world-championship competition by roaring to a dominant victory in the men’s individual pursuit.
Wiggins, who races with Cofidis on the road, returned to the track to hone his technique ahead of defending his Olympic title next year in Beijing.
“I really missed it last year watching it on the telly. I had a rough year and I took a lot of criticism for trying to race on the road and doing the Tour,” Wiggins said. “This is where my heart is. I bloody missed it, I tell you.”
The 2004 Olympic pursuit gold medalist pulled even with German rider Robert Bartko with less than a lap to go in the 4000-meter pursuit and coasted to an easy victory.
“I was surprised. I went into that final just going flat out like this morning, then all of us a sudden he was right there in front of me,” Wiggins said. “I’ve never been in that position, I’ve always had to go to the line. It’s a great feeling when you just come bearing down on someone like that.”
The bronze-medal round was a Spanish match-up with Antonio Tauler and Sergi Escobar squaring off. The partisan crowd cheered heavily for hometown boy Tauler, but Escobar took the horde out of the game as he opened up time with each ensuing lap.
France repeats in team sprint
France defended its men’s team sprint world title by the slimmest of margins, beating Great Britain by .002 second in the three-man event.
The French trio of Gregory Bauge, Mickael Bourgoin and Arnaud Tournant started fast to open an 0.2-second gap in the first of three laps. Britain – featuring the all-Scot team of Craig MacLean, Ross Edgar and Chris Hoy – surged back with the fastest final lap, but it was just short.
The same French lineup also beat Britain last year in front of a home crowd in Bordeaux.
Germany took the bronze ahead of the Netherlands.
Brits take inaugural women’s team sprint
Shanaze Reade and Victoria Pendleton doubled up to win the first-ever women’s team sprint gold medal ahead the Netherlands. The Dutch were slightly faster in the two-lap event, but Reade put down a blistering final lap almost a half-second faster than Willy Kanis. Australia took bronze ahead of France in the new, non-Olympic event.
Hammer history: Sarah Hammer could make history this weekend if she brings home double gold medals. On Friday, she will defend her world title in the individual pursuit and then take on the points race on Sunday. Only one American has won two gold medals in one world championships. That was Marty Nothstein in 1994 who scored gold in the sprint and keirin.
Subtitles please: Not only are the track world championships announced in French (cycling’s official language), Spanish and English, but also in the local language Mallorquin.
New boards: The brand-new track at Palma de Mallorca is so new the paint is still drying. Crews were still scrambling to put the last-minute touches on what’s a spectacular facility. The buzz in the pits is that the boards are super-fast and there could be some world records on the offing. “These are fresh boards – they haven’t even been sanded yet,” said Huff. Hammer said the heat inside the Mallorca should also make for fast times. “The heat makes the air less dense and it’s really hot in here, so we’ve seen some fast times in training,” Hammer said.
Holy opening ceremonies, Batman! Mallorca obviously realizes it will never host an Olympic Games, so it outdid itself with the eardrum-busting opening ceremonies Thursday. Not discounting the mélange of gnomes, devils, gypsies and Moors bouncing around, some three-dozen “men in white” were dangling from a white cylindrical globe straight out of “2001: A Space Odyssey.” What does it all mean? Only the enthusiastic choreographer can tell us that.
Vampires: The UCI blood controls held before the start of competition to open the world track championships found no irregularities. Some 23 riders from China, Australia, Austria, Belarussia and USA were tested Thursday morning. No riders were deemed unfit.
UCI track world championships
Day 1 results
Bradley Wiggins (GB) caught Robert Bartko (G)
Sergi Escobar (Sp) 4:23.417 bt Antonio Tauler (Sp) 4:29.536
1. Bradley Wiggins (GB), 4:15.976
2. Robert Bartko (G), 4:20.487
3. Sergi Escobar (Sp), 4:20.501
4. Antonio Tauler (Sp), 4:22.795
5. Jenning Huizenga (Ned), 4:25.020
6. Jens Mouris (Ned), 4:25.094
7. Robert Hayles (GB), 4:25.669
8. Mark Jamieson (Aus), 4:26.595
9. Alexander Serov (Rus), 4:27.222
10. Fabien Sanchez (F), 4:27.614
DNS: Phillip Thuaux (Aus)
Omnium final standings
1. Alois Kankovsky (Cze), 19 points
2. Walter Perez (Arg), 28
3. Charles Huff (USA), 37
4. Aliaksandr Lisouski (Blr), 37
5. Daniel Kreuzfeldt (Den), 38
6. Dimitri De Fauw (B), 40
7. Michael d’Almeida (F), 41
8. Jonathan Bellis (GB), 42
France (Gregory Bauge, Mickael Bourgain, Arnaud Tournant) 43.830 bt Britain (Craig McLean, Ross Edgar, Chris Hoy) 43.832
Germany (Robert Forstemann, Maximilian Levy, Stefan Nimke) 44.240 bt Netherlands (Theo Bos, Teun Mulder, Tim Veldt) 44.286
Scratch race (5km)
1. Walter Perez (Arg)
2. Alois Kankovsky (Cz)
3. Alexey Schmidt (Rus)
4. Aliaksandr Lisouski (Blr)
5. Dmitri De Fauw (B), one lap behind
Britain (Shanaze Reade/Victoria Pendleton) 33.631 bt Netherlands (Yvonne Hijgenaar/Willy Kanis) 33.974
Australia (Kristine Bayley/Anna Meares) bt France (Sandie Clair/Virginie Cueff)