Gane claims keirin, Tsylinskaya defends 500-meter crown
Bradley Wiggins got a bit of scare Thursday night in Stuttgart, but he had a plan, a schedule and a touch of confidence and held on to win the world individual pursuit title in a tighter than expected gold-medal final against Australian Luke Roberts.
Wiggins, who had set the high mark in qualifying rounds and turned in the best time in the semi-final, said he enjoyed the role of being the favorite going into the final.
“At least the others knew what they had to aim for,” Wiggins said of his impressive 4:17 he set on Wednesday. And aim is precisely what Roberts did, leading the 4000-meter event for the first half, at times by as much as a second.
But Wiggins rode his own race, according to a schedule he and his coach established before the final.
“We were aiming for a 4:18.5… I think we got pretty close to that,” Wiggins said.
Quite close, indeed. The 23-year-old teammate of last year’s world champion, Brad McGee powered his way to a strong 4:18.57 to earn Britain’s first gold medal in the pursuit since Chris Boardman took the world title in 1996.
Quite fittingly, Boardman stood on the infield of the Stuttgart velodrome to savor the moment.
“It was close,” Boardman, who acts as the British team’s “expert advisor” for pursuit, said. “Really the thing that made Roberts so dangerous was because Bradley was the favorite… he had nothing to lose and he was able to ride without any inhibitions. For a while there it looked like he was on pace for a 4:15… but fortunately, it’s a 4000-meter race and…”
By taking second on the day, Roberts earns his second consecutive silver, while Spain’s Sergi Escobar took the bronze after he dominated his matchup with Britain’s Paul Manning. Wiggins set his sites on this year’s world title after finishing a disappointing fifth last year at world’s. “It was a bit of a bobble last year,” Wiggins said. It’s nice to get it right this year.”
“It was neck and neck all the way,” said Wiggins. “It was a real battle and I was certainly on my limit. Even at the finish, I didn’t hear the gun go off, so I didn’t really know until I looked up at the board and saw the result… that was less than ten minutes ago… it’s all moving so quickly now. I am a bit overwhelmed.”
Selection dispute kills German team pursuit hopes
As defending Olympic champions, Germany has long been regarded as the squad to beat in the four-man team pursuit, but a destructive internal war has ended the host country’s plans of even fielding a team at the Stuttgart world’s.
In a statement issued Thursday, the German cycling federation announced the withdrawal of its entry in the team pursuit after riders who ride and train in Thuringen announced they would not ride if a pair of Berlin-based riders were included in the squad.
The dispute stems from a recent decision by German endurance coach pass over seven-time world’s medalist Jens Lehman for the individual pursuit squad, despite the fact that the 35-year-old had qualified for the team. Instead coach Bern Dittert held a second round of qualifying tests last week and selected Berliner Robert Bartko to ride the individual pursuit along with Daniel Becke of Thuringen.
The tension was heightened Wednesday when both Germans were eliminated in the first round of the individual pursuit. Becke, a member of Jan Ullrich’s Bianchi squad, conceded that he’d had a difficult time making the transition to track after a three-week Tour, but added that Bartko had no such excuse.
At the prompting of Thuringen-based trainer, Jens Lang, four of his riders – Lehman, Becke along with alternates Andreas Bach and Sebastian Seidler – announced that they would not participate in this year’s team pursuit with Bartko and fellow Berliner, Guido Filst.
Federation officials were taken aback by the announcement, but soon told the four riders and Lang to leave the team hotel in Stuttgart and followed up with an announcement that Germany’s best hopes lay “in starting from scratch in 2004, with a new team.”
Observers in Stuttgart said the rider’s strike and the subsequent collapse of German team pursuit cohesion represents “a sad end to ten years’ work.”
Germany’s pursuit team has been one of world’s strongest in recent years, having made the podium each year since 1998, earning gold in 1999 and 2000 including the first sub-four-minute performance in the event. That mark has since been eclipsed by the Australian team which now holds the world record.
Tsylinskaya repeats in 500
Natallia Tsylinskaya of Belarus repeated her world 500-meter time trial title Thursday, clocking a spectacular 34.078, just shy of breaking the world record.
As defending world champion, he 27-year-old Tsylinskaya was the last rider to start in the 18-strong field, moving Mexico’s Nancy Contreras into second place. The world record in the 500m time trial is held by China’s Yonghua Jiang, who finished in a time of 34.847 to just miss out on the medals in fifth. Jiang’s teammate Cuihua Jiang had set the early pace, clocking a fast 34.746 to lead the race before Contreras and Tsylinskaya rode, eventually moving her into third.
American Tanya Lindenmuth said she was poised to ride a strong 500, after “arriving here with plenty of time to get adjusted to the time, to get used to the track, to eat right… everything.”
But the American’s plans went awry when she “missed the beep,” misjudging her start and jumping a millisecond too soon from the unforgiving automatic release mechanism that holds each bike by the rear wheel.
“I anticipated instead of reacting and it threw off the entire ride,” Lindenmuth said. “It just kills your speed.”
The assessment was corroborated by U.S. coach Des Dickie, who said Lindenmuth’s first half-lap time of 13.6 seconds was well off her usual 12.8. In a sport where success and failure are measured in fractions of a second, Lindenmuth’s 35.534 gave her only 15th place.
“I’m just sick about it,” she said.
Lindenmuth, however, said her disappointment can only last for so long. “I have sprints to worry about tomorrow,” she said. “I need to shift my focus to that.”
Gane claims keirin crown
France’s Laurent Gane confirmed his recent good form to win the world keirin title. Australia’s Jobie Dajka, the 21-year-old defending champion, came second to take the silver with Barry Forde of Barbados taking the bronze.
Gane, who is from the Pacific island of Noumea, came second in the keirin event in 2001 and third in 1998.
Results from the world track cycling championships here on Thursday:
Bradley Wiggins (GB), 4:18.57, beat Luke Roberts (Aus), 4:19.30
Sergi Escobar Roure (Sp), 4:21.21, beat Paul Manning (GB), 4:22.46
1. Laurent Gane (F), 10.29
2. Jobie Dajka (Aus)
3. Barry Forde (Bar),
4. Rene Wolff (G)
5. Mickael Bourgain (F)
6. Yuji Yamada (Jpn)
7. Jens Fiedler (G)
8. On Ng Josiah (Mas)
9. Ryan Bayley (Aus)
10. Ross Edgar (GB)
11. Pavel Buran (CZE)
12. Mark French (Aus)
500-meter time trial final
1. Natallia Tsylinskaya (Blr), 34.078
2. Nancy Contreras (Mex), 34.516
3. Cuihua Jiang (CHN), 34.746
4. Yvonne Hijgenaar (Ned), 34.763
5. Yonghua Jiang (CHN), 34.847
6. Lori Ann Muenzer (Can), 34.861
7. Victoria Pendleton (GB)
8. Kathrin Freitag (G)
9. Anna Meares (Aus)
10. Katrin Meinke (G)
11. Kerrie Meares (Aus)
12. Clara Sanchez (F)
13. Sayuri Osuga (Jpn)
14.Tamilla Abasova (Rus)
15. Simona Krupeckaite (Ltu)
Individual pursuit qualifying
(eight best times qualify)
Evelyn Garcia (ESA), 3:52.5, beat Belem Guerrero (Mex)
Katie Mactier (Aus), 3:32.4, beat Svetlana Ivakhonenkova (Blr)
Meifang Li (Chn), 3:46.7, beat Verena Joos (G)
Diana Elmentaite (Ltu), 3:49.4, beat Pernille Jakobsen (Dk)
Juliette Vandekerckhove (F), 3:39.3, beat Alison Wright (Aus)
Diana Ziliute (Ltu), 3:37.4, beat Erin Carter (Can)
Karin Thurig (Swi), 3:38.4, beat Gema Pascual (Sp)
Marion Clignet (F), 3:43.5, beat Anouska van der Zee (Ned)
Sarah Ulmer (NZ), 3:34.8, beat Erin Mirabella (USA)
Olga Slusareva (Rus), 3:34.6, beat Katherine Bates (Aus)
Leontien Ziljaard-Van Moorsel (Ned), 3:32.0, beat Emma Davies (Aus)
1. Leontien Ziljaard-Van Moorsel (Ned)
2. Katie Mactier (Aus)
3. Olga Slusareva (Rus)
4. Sarah Ulmer (NZ)
5. Diana Ziliute (Ltu)
6. Karin Thurig (Swi)
7. Juliette Vandekerckhove (F)
8. Katherine Bates (Aus)
1st round (Friday)
Sarah Ulmer (NZ)
Diana Ziliute (Ltu)
Olga Slusareva (Rus)
Karin Thurig (Swi)
Katie Mactier (Aus)
Juliette Vandekerckhove (F)
Leontien Ziljaard-Van Moorsel (Ned)
Katherine Bates (Aus)