By Jason Sumner, VeloNews associate editor
Aussie Ryan Bayley affirmed his status as world’s fastest man on a bike, taking his second gold medal of the 28th Olympiad by winning the keirin on the final day of track racing in Athens on Wednesday.
The shaggy haired 22-year-old shot out from the bunch in the final of the keirin, cruising across the line well ahead of second-place finisher Jose Escuredo of Spain. German Rene Wolff was third, but was later relegated by the judges giving Shane Kelley the bronze, yet another medal for the green and gold.
Paired with the Madison win by Graeme Brown and Stuart O’Grady, Australia will leave Greece with six gold medals in cycling. The other winners included Sara Carrigan in the road race, Anne Meares in the 500-meter time trial, the team pursuit squad, and of course Bayley in the men’s sprint.
“It seemed like all of Australia was against us,” said Aussie cycling boss Shayne Bannan. “But all of the riders and staff kept believing and this is the result.”
On the other side of the emotion spectrum was American Marty Nothstein. After winning the men’s sprint four years ago in Sydney, Nothstein has refocused on the road, shedding 25 pounds along the way. Still he took his shot against the world’s best here at the Olympics.
Nothstein looked solid in the second heat of the keirin’s opening round. But after slipping into second on the final straight, he nipped at the line by Escuredo, sending him into the repechage round. Wolff won the heat.
“It was a good heat for me. I rode tactically well,” said Nothstein. “But Wolff kind of gave me the hook and that slowed us both down and gave the Spaniard a shot.”
Nothstein would fare no better in the repechage, getting hung up with Japan’s Toshiaki Fushimi on the last turn and never contesting the finish.
“That’s keirin racing,” Nothstein said. “You can go from good to bad to nearly crashing very fast.”
The night was no better for reigning world champion Jamie Staff of Great Britain, who was a non-qualifying third in his second round heat behind Bayley.
No one was beating Bailey on this night, though. In the final heat he simply turned on the jets around the last turn and rode away from the field. Afterwards he repeated his post-race celebration from a day earlier, climbing up on the track’s railing and thrusting his hands in the air.
“The guy is a freak,” said Kelley.