By Andrew Hood
Chris Hoy continued Great Britain’s gold medal rush at the Palma de Mallorca world track cycling championships after laying claim to his fourth career world title in the men’s kilo.
Already a surprise winner this week in the men’s keirin, Hoy dominated his favorite event with the winning time of 1:00.999 in what was his final competitive kilo.
“This is the last time I will race kilo, so it was really important that I won,” Hoy said. “I felt really good all day and I just tried to relax before the race. I felt strong right to the end and I’m relieved and happy to win.”
Jamie Staff (Great Britain) was second of 20 starters and set an early benchmark of 1:02.074 that stood the test until penultimate rider Francois Pervis (France) bumped him out of the hot seat with 1:01.838. With only Hoy left on the track, Staff was assured of at least a bronze medal.
Supported by a large cheering contingent in the stands, Hoy exploded onto the boards and carved a slender gap of 0.081 seconds at 250m and widened that to 0.331 seconds at 750m before winning by 0.839 seconds.
Hoy stopped the clock just over two tenths of a second slower than the world sea level record of 1:00.711 he set during in the Olympic final in Athens in 2004.
With the Olympics on tap next summer, Hoy said he focus his preparation on for the men’s team sprint and the keirin.
“I have to draw the line somewhere. I’d love to race it again in Manchester [2008 world’s next March], but I have to make a commitment to the Olympic events,” he said. “First, it’s a fight to get on the team, and then there’s different preparation for the kilo than the sprint events.”
The 30-year-old is still annoyed that the UCI and IOC officials bagged the kilo as an Olympic event and said he wanted to make a statement in what was his last competitive kilo of his career.
“It’s frustrating because the powers that be in the sport don’t understand the sport,” Hoy said. “The riders need to have more of a voice in the decisions. There’s no discussion, no reflection on the history. The kilo is a lot more deserving.”
There’s still one more kilo on tap, however. He will fly to Florida in early May to adjust for the time difference and then travel to Bolivia where he will attempt to break the world record held by Arnaud Tournant. The Frenchman set the record of 58.875 in La Paz, Bolivia, in October 2001.
Women’s point race: Bates does it, Hammer 14th
Katherine Bates secured Australia’s second gold medal Sunday after claiming in the women’s points title with 35 points that saw pre-race favorite Sarah Hammer finish a disappointing 14th.
Hammer was hoping to follow up Friday’s gold medal performance in the individual pursuit with another victory, but four riders peeled away midway through the race to spoil her chances for the double. Mie Bekker Lacota of Denmark took the silver medal with 29 while New Zealand’s Catherine Cheatley claimed bronze with 27.
“I just didn’t have it today,” said Hammer, who earned two points. “I wasn’t a good points racer today.”
Hammer, 23, missed out on the points in the first three of 10 sprints, but snagged a moral-booster two points with third in the fourth sprint with 60 laps to go to stay in contention.
Cuban rider Yumari Gonzalez took an early 10-point lead when Mexican rider Belen Guerrero uncorked an acceleration after the fourth sprint that proved decisive. Quick to react were Bates Lacota and Cheatley and the trio peeled away to bridge up to Guerrera.
“I saw the New Zealand girl go and I know she’s strong because I’ve raced a lot against her,” Bates said. “We really worked hard in the group and I wanted to get as many points as possible even if we were caught because I knew it would help me. It was really a question of good timing, really.”
Hammer was left to do much of the heavy lifting to try to reel in the dangerous quartet. Bates was scooping up points and Hammond could only watch in vain as the gap grew bigger.
“Everyone knows Sarah is so strong, so everyone else is just looking at each other,” Bates said. “It’s happened to me a lot. I’d scratch my nose and have 10 girls on my wheel.”
With 34 laps to go, the quartet lapped the field with each receiving 20 additional points to make it a four-rider race. Guerrero clipped wheels with Ukraine’s Elizaveta Bochkarova in an unfortunate spill with 13 laps to go to take her out of medal contention.
Women’s Keirin: Pendleton gold, Reed 5th
Jennie Reed was looking for more speed in the medal round of the women’s keirin and couldn’t get around Victoria Pendleton to finish fifth.
Pendleton took her second gold of these world’s and the seventh for the British team with Shuang Guo hanging on for silver and 500m TT gold medalist Anna Meares claiming bronze.
“I knew that I had to make my own race, because there are so many strong girls – I gave it a go, unfortunately that’s what happened,” Reed said. “I was feeling really good. The sprints didn’t go as well for me, and that’s usually a precursor to my keirin. There are so many strong women, so you never win easily. The level has come up a lot the last three years, so it’s anyone’s race. I wanted the medal, I think that was my best shot what I did, so I went for it.”
Reed got through the morning qualifying round and then finished third in the medal’s qualifier to put her in the running for the world title.
German rider Christin Muche was disqualified for unsportsman like conduct in the opening gun that neutralized the start to make for a restart. There was a second false start after a problem with the derny that raised the hackles of the crowd.
Men’s sprint: Same as the old Bos
Theo Bos defended his world sprint title with a dramatic victory over Frenchman Gregory Bauge to promote his candidacy as the gold medal favorite for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.
Bos made up for missing gold in the men’s keirin with a pair of daring sprints to secure his third sprint title in four years.
“I had a lot of pressure to win this title because now everyone expects me to win,” Bos said. “I know I will need more going into Beijing. I need to build more power when compared to the others.”
Bos and Bauge went high on the boards in the first match-up of the gold medal race, neither wanting to give too much away in the intense battle. Bos started a long sprint on the bell lap and was barely able to hold off a late bike stab by Bauge to win the first all-important psychological blow.
In the second round, Bauge decided to change tactics and try to hold off Bos with a lengthy sprint. It looked like it was going to work until a late surge coming out turn four by the big Dutchman secured the gold.
“I had to be a bit more careful in the final with Bauge, because he’s a huge talent. Very dangerous,” Bos told AFP. “But in the second leg I wanted to show that I could win even by coming from behind after the final bend.”
In the qualifying rounds, Bos got past Craig MacLean (Great Britain) while in the all-French match-up, Bauge snuck past compatriot Mickael Bourgain in the decider. Bourgain later beat MacLean to snag the bronze.
Men’s Madison: Swiss nip Dutch
The Swiss combo of Franco Marvulli and Bruno Risi counted on some savvy riding late to snag two points in the last of 10 sprints to bounce ahead of the Netherlands to win the gold medal in the men’s Madison.
The Swiss duo won with 14 points to Holland’s 13 points in the 200-lap, 50km event while the team of Alois Kankovsky, a gold medalist in the men’s omnium,and Petr Lazar claimed bronze ahead of crowd favorite Spain with 11 points.
It was another inspirational performance by Llaneras, the defending Madison world champion who took an emotional win in the men’s points race Saturday. The 35-year-old was riding in the memory of former Madison partner Isaac Galvez, who died in a tragic track racing accident in November.
Spain got lapped early on as Llaneras as new Madison partner Carlos Torrent took a few laps to get in sync. After three sprints, Spain still had no points and fell off the pace. By 80 laps to go, Spain was still fighting what looked to be a lost cause, but a surge by Spain brought them back to level on lap counts with 35 laps to go.
With eight of 10 sprints in the bag, Spain sprang up to third with seven points behind Holland and Switzerland, tied with 12. Netherlands pulled ahead with 13 points to Switzerland’s 12 in the ninth sprint to set up the exciting finale.
There was some confusion at the end of the race as a Dutch and Ukraine rider crashed after the finish. Torrent thought Spain secured enough points to claim bronze, but finished fourth instead.