By Jason Sumner, VeloNews Associate Editor
Saturday night marked the debut of the scratch race at the World Cup level and it’s safe to say Erin Mirabella likes the new addition. The blonde Californian slipped away from the field on the final lap of the 30-lap affair, then held off the late charge of Canadian Mandy Poitras to land the first gold medal for the U.S. at the three-day event in Monterrey, Mexico.
“I had an opening and I just went for it,” said Mirabella of her winning move. “I knew there were some strong sprinters in the field, so I didn’t want to take any chances.”
It’s the second World Cup win for Mirabella. She won the individual pursuit at the stop in Texas in 1999. It’s also her second medal in Monterrey. She won silver in Friday’s individual pursuit.
Poitras held on for silver, while Mexico’s Belem Guerrero took the bronze, making it a North American sweep.
Prime Alliance rider Jame Carney added to the U.S. medal haul later in the evening, taking bronze in the men’s scratch race. Switzerland’s Franco Marvulli took the top spot, with Dutchman Robert Slippens in second.
“I missed the first move,” said Carney of a break that included the top two finishers. “But I made the last one and won the sprint.”
In the day’s main event — as far as the locals were concerned — Mexico’s Nancy Contreras settled for second in the 500-meter time trial, falling to Belarus’ Natallia Markaunichenka 35.353 to 35.475. Germany’s Katrin Meinke was third. American Tanya Lindenmuth took fifth and Canada’s Lori Ann Muenzer was ninth.
“The win caused me some trouble,” said the reigning world champion Contreras.
The day’s other final saw another gold for Belarus, as the former Soviet satellite won the four-man team pursuit, besting Great Britain in the final. The Netherlands took the bronze, beating Spain in the consolation round.
In sprint action, Americans Jeff LaBauve, Tammy Thomas and Lindenmuth all moved into Sunday’s semifinal round. LeBauve took down France’s Arnaud Duble in the one-heat 1/8 round, then bested Spain’s Salvador Melia 2-0 in the best-of-three quarterfinals.
“After last year, the goal is to win,” said LaBauve, who earned a silver medal in the sprint at the World Cup in Mexico City in 2001.
Thomas also came up with a sweep, easily moving past Canada’s Muenzer. Lindenmuth, meanwhile, had to work a little harder to earn her place in the semis. The Trexlertown, Pennsylvania resident was forced to win a deciding third heat against Germany’s Katrin Meinke. But the American came through in the clutch, and now has a shot at a medal on Sunday.
“I made a mistake in the second heat but I went out and fixed it,” Lindenmuth succinctly explained. “I went to slow in the second heat.”
San Diego resident Josiah Ng (Malaysia) didn’t fare as well in his quarterfinals match. After taking a win in the 1/8 round, the 22-year-old lost his quarters opener against Cuba’s Julio Herrera, came back to win the second heat, but came up short in the decider.
“I’m still an unfinished diamond,” Ng conceded. “Sprinting is 50 percent mental and I’m still working on that part of my game.”
Canadian Steen Madsen fell to German strongman Matthias John in the 1/8 round of the sprint, then came up short in the repechage.
Racing at the Nuevo Leon Velodromo concludes on Sunday with the finals of the match sprint, the kilo, the women’s 25km points race and the Madison.
Check back to VeloNews.com for a full report, results and photos.
UCI TRACK WORLD CUP NO. 1; Monterrey, Mexico; April 19-21; Men; Team pursuit ; 1. Belarus (Dimitri Aulasenka, Vasil Kiryienka, Viktar Rapinski, Yauhen Sobal); 2. Great Britain; 3. Netherlands; 4. Spain; 5. Colombia; Also; 8. Mexico; 15km Scratch race ; 1. Franco Marvulli, Switzerland; 2. Robert Slippens, Netherlands; 3. Jame Carney, USA; 4. Edgardo Simon, Argentina; 5. Vasil Kiryienka, Belarus; Semifinal sprint qualifiers; Rene Wolff, Germany; Matthias John, Germany; Julio Herrera, Cuba; Jeff LaBauve, USA
Women; 10km Scratch race; 1. Erin Mirabella, USA; 2. Mandy Poitras, Canada; 3. Belem Guerrero, Mexico; 4. Charlotte Becker, Germany; 5. Giovanna Troldi, Italy; Also; 12. Erin Carter, Canada; 13. Patricia Palencia, México; — Jennie Reed, USA, DNF; 500-meter time trial ; 1. Natallia Markaunichenka, Belarus, 35.353; 2. Nancy Contreras, Mexico, 35.475; 3. Katrin Meinke, Germany, 35.947; 4. Yumari Gonzalez, Cuba, 36.202; 5. Tanya Lindenmuth, USA, 36.691; Also; 9. Lori Ann Muenzer, Canada, 37.114; Semifinal sprint qualifiers; Svetlana Grankovskaia, Russia; Natallia Markaunichenka, Belarus; Tammy Thomas, USA; Tanya Lindenmuth, USA