Sarah Ulmer and Greg Henderson grabbed gold medals on Friday to hoist New Zealand to second on the medals table behind France on the third night of the world track cycling championships in Melbourne, Australia.
Henderson surprised even himself with a helter-skelter victory in the men’s 15km scratch race, surging to the finish line to snare a narrow victory after being part of an audacious three-man breakaway early in the 60-lap race. The Kiwi raised his arm in victory as he crossed the finish line just ahead of Dutchman Robert Slippens and Walter Perez of Argentina.
His pulse-quickening win clinched a golden double for tiny New Zealand after Ulmer overhauled Australian Katie Mactier to win the women’s 3000-meter individual pursuit.
Ulmer, who smashed Dutch Olympic and world champion Leontien Zijlaar van Moorsel’s world record in Thursday’s qualifying, powered home to beat her close friend Mactier by 3.081 seconds in the 12-lap final, winning in 3:31.778 at Vodafone Arena.
Ulmer was as much as two seconds behind Mactier in the early stages of the pursuit as the Australian set a scorching pace in a bid to pinch the gold medal. But the flying Kiwi relentlessly chipped away at Mactier’s lead before hitting the front 500 meters from the finish.
“I’m fizzing, mate, I’m absolutely stoked,” Ulmer said after her victory. “I think it will sink in tomorrow.”
Ulmer signaled a changing of the guard in women’s pursuiting when she smashed Zijlaar van Moorsel’s world record with 3:30.604 in heats on Thursday.
“It was definitely a good confidence boost to do a good time and break the record, but it did add more pressure, but at the end of the day it was just another 3km,” said Ulmer.
The Dutch three-time world champion bombed out of the medal rounds after she was well beaten by Russian Elena Tchalych in Friday’s qualifying.
Tchalych took the bronze medal in the ride-off with her Russian teammate Olga Slyusareva, a two-time silver and bronze medalist in the event.
In the men’s keirin, Jamie Staff of Great Britain won the gold medal ahead of Spain’s Jose Antonio Escuredo Raimondez, who took silver, and Ivan Vrba of the Czech Republic, who claimed bronze. –Copyright 2004/AFP