By VeloNews Interactive wire services, Copyright AFP2002
It may not be a high-altitude velodrome in Bolivia, but Arnaud Tournant -the world’s fastest man on two wheels over a kilometer – will be the mainattraction when the world track cycling championships click into gear inCopenhagen on Wednesday.
Tournant, one of only two cyclists to have won the kilometer world titlefour times, took the event to new heights last October when he smashed hisown record at altitude in La Paz in the first sub-minute time of 58.850secs.
Now at a more reasonable height above sea level, Tournant is still everybit as lethal.
The 24-year-old Frenchman is the latest star to emerge from a country whichhas produced its fair share of track titans over the years. The winner oftwo world titles last year, Tournant is expected to win more gold by theend of this week.
“My preparations are right on track for my real aim which is the world championships,”Tournant said after winning a World Cup kilometer event back in April.
Although the over-riding favorite for Thursday’s kilometer event on Ballerup’ssuper-smooth track, Tournant will face stiffer competition in the individualsprint, the main event which he surprised everyone by winning last year.
France took all three medals last year as Tournant pipped Laurent Gane andFlorian Rousseau to the gold.
But apart from Gane, a former world sprint champion from exotic New Caledoniain the Pacific who beat him in the national championships recently, Tournantwill also have to oust Australian Sean Eadie, who got the better of him ina World Cup sprint event in May.
Eadie, a bronze medal winner in the team sprint at the Sydney Olympics whocould also challenge in the keirin, will not be the only non-French rideraiming to use the super-fast track to propel himself to the podium. Germanypair Jens Fiedler and Jan van Eijden, the 2000 winner in Manchester, havejust as good a chance of ousting the French from ‘their’ podium.
The United States proved a formidable squad this year winning the overallWorld Cup title, beating Germany and Australia for the overall title. TheU.S. title, however, was sullied by the lifetime doping suspension handeddown to the Americans’ top female competitor Tammy Thomas.
But world’s brings on a new focus for some competitors and cycling powerhouseFrance is expected to dominate the five-day event, which is offering nineworld titles for the men and six for the women.
France last year collected four of last year’s 12 gold medals, with Russiaand Ukraine claiming two apiece as Australia, Mexico, Netherlands and Switzerlandall claimed one each.
However this year the cycling-savvy Aussies could increase their load afterwhat has proved a productive season so far.
At the Commonwealth Games in Manchester this summer their men’s pursuit teamcarried off the gold medal, and a world record to boot. After crashing inthe qualifying rounds of the world championships in Antwerp last year, GraemeBrown, Peter Dawson, Mark Renshaw and Luke Roberts are aiming to win Australia’sfirst world gold in the event since 1995 in Bogota.
Brown and company will likely come under pressure from reigning championsUkraine – whose quick start and consistency over the 16-lap, 4000m distanceproved the key in last year’s final.
Ryan Bayley won the Aussies’ sole title last year after a drama-filled keirinevent which left two French riders, and his 19-year-old compatriot JobieDajka, lying in a messy heap.
Undoubtedly French keirin pair Laurent Gane and Florian Rousseau, who wascarted off to hospital after last year’s crash, will be out to avoid anyrepeats. A year on, Bayley, having also won individual and team sprint goldat the Commonwealths in Manchester, could repeat his feat, although the powerfulDajka is as much a contender this time after a promising debut last year.
In the women’s competition Svetlana Grankovskaia of Russia will be the maintarget for those in the hunt for sprint gold. Canada’s Lori-Ann Muenzer,who took silver and a bronze last year, will be aiming to go a podium stephigher.
Men’s individual pursuit final
Men’s keirin final
Women’s keirin final
Women’s 500m time trial final
Men’s kilometre time trial final
Men’s scratch 15km final
Women’s individual pursuit final
Men’s team sprint final
Men’s team pursuit final
Women’s sprint final
Men’s points race (30km) final
Women’s points race (25km) final
Men’s sprint final
Women’s scratch 10km final
Men’s madison (50km) final