By Ben Delaney
It turns out there is a little something to those rainbow stripes.
At the opening night of the Los Angeles Track World Cup, American Sarah Hammer, Brit Chris Hoy and Aussie Anna Meares showed their respective fields just why their biceps are circled with cycling’s most powerful design.
Tour de France winner Floyd Landis and his friend, CSC rider Dave Zabriskie, were among the crowd of thousands at the Home Depot Center velodrome.
Hammer, a world champion in the individual pursuit, won the January 19 women’s points race with some last-lap assistance from her American teammate Becky Quinn. When Quinn saw Cuba’s Yoanka Gonzalez Perez — who was tied in points with Hammer — at the back of the field, she came flying by Hammer with a simple instruction: “Get on my wheel.”
“Perfect,” Hammer thought. Well, almost.
“I just did not have the gas to get on her wheel,” Hammer said. “She was just flying. But it ended up fine because she strung it out and the Cuban girl got stuck in the back.”
Hammer finished the last lap in seventh, six spots up on Perez, to take the win.
Hoy, a world champion in the kilo, dominated all his keirin rounds, riding most of them from the front. As soon as the derny pulled off, Hoy would string out the field, then with a lap or so to go hit the gas and gap his competitors by more than a bike length. This strategy worked well until the final, when two Australians took the front. Unfazed, Hoy jumped around them with half a lap to go to easily take the win. Hoy now turns his attention to the team sprint, held Saturday, January 20.
The women’s sprint final was decided by a sprawling margin, with Meares defeating France’s Clara Sanchez. However, Meares had quite a scrap in getting to the finals. In the semi-finals, Meares battled Shuang Guo in not the typical three but four rounds of sprints. In the first round the pair tied — an unusual event in the day of digital photo finishes — as not a single digital pixel separated their front wheels at the line.
In contrast to the experienced Meares, who’s been racing track since age 11, men’s scratch race winner Russell Hampton enjoyed a streak of beginner’s luck in his first ever World Cup track event. Hampton, the current British national junior road champion, came to Los Angeles for a good workout.
“I am just using track as training for the road,” Hampton said. “I just came here to ride it and have fun.”
Standing on the top step of the podium, it appeared he had accomplished that goal.
In the night’s other two events, Ukranian Vitaliy Popkov won the men’s individual pursuit with a time of 4:31.519 and France’s Francois Pervis won the kilo in 1:02.255.
American world time-trial champion Kristin Armstrong had planned to compete at the World Cup, but a recent knee surgery kept her out.
“I have been dealing with a nagging knee injury since the first of theyear,” Armstrong told VeloNews in an email. “I ended up having arthroscopic surgery on my knee this past Wednesday to clean up some synovial tissue that had become an irritant.”
VeloNews.com’s coverage of the Los Angeles World Cup resumes Saturday with the men’s sprint, team pursuit and points race, plus the women’s team sprint, 500m time trial and individual pursuit. Be sure to check the next issue of VeloNews magazine for full coverage on the World Cup.
2006-07 UCI Track World Cup Classics
Los Angeles, CA. January 19-21
Women’s points race
1. Sarah Hammer (USA), 13
2. Yoanka Gonzalez Perez (Cub), 13
3. Dorronsoro Olaberria (Dur), 10
1. Anna Meares (Aus)
2. Clara Sanchez (F)
3. Jane Gerisch (G)
Men’s kilometer time trial
1. Francois Pervis (F) 1:02.255
2. Carsten Bergemann (G) 1:04.439
3. Yusho Oikawa (Jpn) 1:04.814
Men’s scratch race
1. Russell Hampton (GB)
2. Wim Stroetinga (Ned)
3. Walter Perez (Arg)
Men’s individual pursuit
1. Vataliy Popkov (Ukr) 4:31.519
2. Fabien Sanchez (F) 4:37.066
3. Valeriy Valynin (Rus) 4:34.554
1. Chris Hoy (GB)
2. Ross Edgar (GB)
3. Shane Perkins (Aus)