By Fred Dreier
North America’s only stop on the 2007-08 UCI track World Cup kicks off Friday at the continent’s premier velodrome, the ADT Event Center Velodrome at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, just south of Los Angeles.
As the third of only four World Cup rounds on the 2007-08 calendar, the LA World Cup stands as an important stepping-stone in Olympic qualification for the 2008 Beijing Games. Series winners will earn automatic qualifications for the Games. USA Cycling is to name its track Olympic long teams on Tuesday.
That could bode well for American Rebecca Quinn, the World Cup leader in the points race. Quinn, 36, finished fourth and fifth, respectively, at the first two World Cup rounds, held in Sydney, Australia, and Beijing, and has a one-point margin over Marianne Vos of the Netherlands. Vos won the points race in Beijing. Quinn is also ranked fifth in the women’s scratch race, two points ahead of sixth-place Gina Grain of Canada.
American Sarah Hammer, the reigning world champion in the women’s pursuit, is also in good standing after the first two rounds. After struggling to rebound from a back injury suffered this summer, Hammer clawed her way into fourth place in the World Cup standings with a bronze-medal performance in Beijing. Hammer actually posted a faster time in the 3km race than World Cup leader Katie Mactier of Australia, who defeated Rebecca Romero (GBR) in the finals to take the gold.
Taylor Phinney is another American within striking distance of the World Cup overall. The 17-year-old Coloradan is ranked No. 6 in the individual pursuit, a competition being led by Volodymyr Dyudya of Ukraine. Phinney, the reigning junior world champion in the time trial, is in his first year of track racing. His fourth-place finish at the Beijing World Cup turned heads on the international circuit, after Phinney stunned American track racers with his winning pursuit ride in his first-ever track competition at the 2007 U.S. national championships.
Many eyes will be on American Mike Friedman, a star on the Slipstream-Chipotle cycling team. Friedman took the only American gold at the Beijing World Cup in the men’s scratch race. While it is not an Olympic event, the scratch race does award World Cup and world-championship medals. Friedman sits third in the World Cup standings behind German Roger Kluge and Walter Perez of Argentina. Canadian Zach Bell is .
USA Cycling announced that more than 400 racers have signed up to race the World Cup, making it the best-attended World Cup of 2007-08. More than 40 nations will be represented.
Track points accumulated by each nation will help decide the number of spots each country receives for the Beijing Games. The UCI will base those numbers after the nation rankings on March 30. The Netherlands leads the nations rankings with 165 points. France is second with 147 and Great Britain rounds out the top three with 116 points.
2008 UCI Track World Cup No. 3
ADT Events Center Velodrome, the Home Depot Center
Friday, January 18
Session 1: 9 a.m. – 4:50 p.m.
Session 2: 7 p.m. – 10:25 p.m.
Saturday, January 19
Session 1: 12 p.m. – 4:25 p.m.
Session 2: 7 p.m. – 10:25 p.m.
Sunday, January 20
Session 1: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Session 2: 4:30 p.m. – 7:25 p.m.