By Gennie Sheer
Aussie Anna Meares outfought American Jennie Reed to take the gold medal in the sprint on Friday at the fourth and final round of the UCI World Cup Series, being staged at Sydney’s Dunc Gray Velodrome through Sunday.
The Athens Olympic time trial champion, who qualified fourth fastest, claimed the victory without conceding a single race, winning every match along the way. In the semi-finals Meares defeated Tamilla Abassova of Russia, the 2005 world championship silver medalist, to set up her gold-medal showdown with Reed.
In their first match, Meares attacked from the front and Reed was unable to come around her. The American changed her tack in the second heat, trying to power away from Meares. But the Queenslander unleashed an explosive sprint in the final 200 meters and sailed around Reed, offering a victory salute a good 10 meters before crossing the line. Italian Elissa Frisoni defeated Abassova for the bronze.
It was a relief for Meares, who had feared a debilitating back injury last July would derail her bid for Commonwealth Games glory in Melbourne.
“I was a bit emotional when I got of the track because it’s been a really hard season, and to come out and race like I did I was so happy,” said Meares, whose victory gives her a record of three straight Sydney World Cup sprint wins. She claimed bronze in the sprint in Athens and at last year’s world’s in Los Angeles.
In other racing:
Theo Bos of the Netherlands, the reigning kilometer time trial world champion, took the keirin ahead of Malaysian Josiah Ng On Lam after officials relegated runner-up Ben Kersten to last place, ruling that he failed to hold his line in an attempt to prevent Spaniard Jose Villanueva from overtaking him. Bos’s countryman Jan Van Eijden moved up to third.
Britain’s Rob Hayles won gold in the 4km individual pursuit, overtaking Russian Alexander Khatuntsev two laps from the finish of the 16-lap event. Michael Ford of Australia claimed the bronze.
China’s Yong Feng won the kilometer time trial in 1:03:016, ahead of Frenchman Francois Pervis (1:03:143) and Australia’s Joel Leonard (1:03:839).
Poland’s Rafal Ratajczyk won the scratch race.
Reigning world champion Vera Carrara of Italy took the women’s points race.