By Andrew Hood
Chris Hoy started last but finished first in the men’s kilometer time trial to end an exciting day of racing in the second day of competition at the 2006 world track cycling championships. The British rider was fastest at all the splits to relegate Australian Ben Kersten to silver and crowd favorite Francois Pervis to bronze. Hoy won in 1:01.361, more than a half-second faster than Kersten in 1:02.085. Pervis was third at 1:02.696. Despite a healthy pedigree in the dramatic kilo, Hoy wasn’t so sure he still had it him coming into Bordeaux after disappointment at the recent Commonwealth Games. “Sometimes when you doubt yourself and you’re not sure you’re going to win, so it means a lot more when you do,” Hoy said. “As you get older, you start questioning yourself, if you’re past your prime, but today I made up for the disappointment of the Commonwealth Games.” Hoy started last, but delivered the home run and score Britain’s first gold medal of these games. A big cheering section crossed the English Channel (though Hoy hails from Scotland) to try to out-cheer the rowdy French fans. “I went out hard and I think I paid for it a little bit in the end. I was struggling a little bit there in the last lap,” he said. “I managed to get up to the maximum speed as fast as I could and I hoped that it would carry me through to the end and it did.” It was the first gold medal for the favored Brits so far in these world championships, but Hoy said he didn’t feel the pressure. “We have such a strong team, so I am confident the boys will get the gold tomorrow in the team pursuit. This sport is funny, you win or lose by very small margins,” he said. “Last year, I think we won five gold medals and this year, we’re hoping to do the same, but you never know what’s going to happen.” Hoy – one of the more vocal critics when Olympic officials announced the kilometer would be dropped from the Olympic competition – hinted this could be his last kilo at international level competition. “I think this might be my last kilo, never say never, but that’s why I wanted to make the most of it and finish on a high,” he said. “I wanted to make amends for the disappointment of the Commonwealth Games.”
Men’s keirin: Bos comes up big
The men’s keirin is one of the most fiercely fought races on the track, but flying Dutchman Theo Bos won by such a big margin Friday night he had time to raise his hands in jubilation.
That’s uncommon in a discipline that’s typically shoulder-to-shoulder in a frenetic sprint to the line.
“This has never happened before. The gap was so big, I couldn’t believe it,” said Bos, one of the rising figures on the improving Dutch team. “I was so far ahead, I could even look behind me.”
Bos, 22, is part of a new generation of track racers taking over the fearsome keirin scene. Runner-up in Athens, Bos earned his first world title in keirin thanks to an absolutely incredible charge with two laps to go. The others could only chase the silver medal.
Taking silver was Spain’s Jose Antonio Escuredo while French strongman Arnaud Tournant, already a gold medalist in the team sprint from Thursday, held off teammate Mickael Bourgain to take bronze.
Women’s points: Hammer ninth
Sarah Hammer – who collected America’s first world championship medal in a decade when she won the women’s 3000m individual pursuit Thursday – didn’t seem too upset that she finished out of the medals in the women’s points race Friday.
Ninth place doesn’t seem so bad when you have a gold medal waiting back at the hotel room. Hammer didn’t go out without a fight, however, scoring points in the second, third and seventh rounds.
“Today I just lined up and did all I could with no expectations,” she said. “I know that the pursuit will always be my main thing.”
Interestingly, this was only Hammer’s third start in a points race. The other two came during World Cups – one in 2002 and another in 2005 – and she won both.
“Even the World Cup level is nothing compared to the world championships,” she said. “I have a sprint, but so much of this event is positioning and experience.”
Hammer drew a warning from commissaires for riding in the blue zone during the sprint, but nothing was going to take the shine off his incredible weekend.
Taking gold was Italian Vera Carrara, who grabbed the title despite tying Russian Olga Slyusareva with 35 points because she won three sprints, including the final two.
Earning the bronze was Spain’s Gema Pascual Torrecilla despite tying with Cuba’s Yoanka Gonzalez Perez with 32 points.
Women’s sprint: Reed seventh
American Jennie Reed grabbed seventh in the consolation round to wrap up a fine performance after making it through qualifications for the women’s sprint.
Reed battled through the morning qualifiers, eliminating Russian Tamilia Abassova to reach the final eight. From there, she was beaten by French rider Clara Sanchez, but won the ride-off repechage against Elisa Frisoni and Anna Meares.
Until Hammer’s gold in Thursday’s competition, Reed held the distinction of being the last American to have won a medal at world-championship competition, taking bronze in the women’s keirin in 2004.
In the women’s quarterfinals, Sanchez of France got the best of rising talent Lisandra Guerra of Cuba in a dramatic stand-off in the final of three rounds. The French rider went high on the boards and forced the younger Guerra to crack, grabbing the wheel and then coming around to move forward, much to the delight of the partisan crowd.
The final four fight for the medals on Saturday.
Men’s individual pursuit: Bartko repeats
Germany’s Robert Bartko retained his individual pursuit crown after a late comeback against Dutchman Jens Mouris. Britain’s Paul Manning took the bronze medal after almost catching up with France’s Fabien Sanchez in the final lap of their match for third place.
Bartko, who thus wins his third world title in the punishing 16-lap event, had trailed his Dutch rival in the early stages before launching a late challenge as Mouris tired.
The German had celebrated the birth of his second child on Thursday, and for a time it seemed as if his mind was elsewhere as Mouris raced to a 0.847-second lead by the 3000m mark.
Mouris appeared to have run out of steam in the next few laps, during which Bartko emerged on top to finally finish in a winning time of four minutes 23.473 seconds – well outside Chris Boardman’s world record of 4:11.114. —Agence France Presse
Men’s pursuit: U.S. faces big test
Four riders from TIAA-CREF will headline the U.S. team in the men’s pursuit Saturday. Mike Creed, Michael Friedman, Charles Bradley Huff and Danny Pate will start first in qualifying in what’s sure to be a David vs. Goliath struggle for the inexperienced team against powerhouses such as Australia, Holland and Great Britain.
“Right now, you could call it that,” said Colby Pearce, endurance coach for USA Cycling. “We’ll see how we can do. Maybe they can surprise a few people.”
The team is getting its first taste of major international competition at the Bordeaux world championships. The major goal is to build toward the Beijing Summer Olympic Games in 2008.
Men’s scratch – 15km – final
Women’s sprint – finals 3-4 and 1-2
Men’s team pursuit