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Austria’s Stocher takes points race
Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel wasn’t sure what to think when she lined up against Katie Mactier to successfully defend her title in the women’s individual pursuit final at the world track cycling championships on Friday.
“Before the world championships, I really had no idea who she was,” remarked Van Moorsel just before her start, “but you have to admit she’s riding really well, no?”
Van Moorsel was by no means alone in the Stuttgart velodrome this week. As far as the track world is concerned, Mactier is a complete neophyte, having taken up the discipline only after encountering visa problems while trying to compete on the road for the Saturn team in the U.S.
Immigration problems aside, the 28-year-old Aussie made the best of her time off and acted upon a suggestion from Australian Institute of Sport coaches who suggest she might have a talent for pursuit.
After winning her national championship in the discipline and earning a trip to Stuttgart, Mactier flew through the qualifier and semi’s to find herself going head-to-head against the world’s best.
From the gun, Friday night, it was Mactier who jumped to an early advantage, pushing her lead over the 33-year-old Van Moorsel to more than a second at early time checks. The Australian kept adding to her lead, peaking out at 2.5 seconds as the two women approached the half-way mark of the 3000-meter event.
But just as quickly, Van Moorsel began to turn the tables, eating away at Mactier’s lead until finally moving permanently ahead with two laps to go around the 285-meter track. Van Moorsel took her third successive world pursuit title in 3:32.657, more than a second ahead of Mactier’s 3:33.784.
Russian Olga Slusareva, who most had predicted would again meet Van Moorsel in the final as she had for the past two years, had to settle for third, facing off against New Zealander Sarah Ulmer in the bronze-medal match-up.
Van Moorsel said that while she was concerned by Mactier’s performance in qualifiers and the semi’s, once on the track she could only follow her own plan and ignore the rider on the other side of the track.
“I had no idea how she was doing at that point,” Van Moorsel said. “I couldn’t approach this by trying to react to her. I had to ride my own race. (My coach) and I set a schedule based on what we saw her ride earlier… not that we had a lot of information on her, though.”
Mactier conceded it had notbeen part of her strategy to start out as quickly as she did.
“No, no, not at all,” she said later. “It’s something I obviously have to work on… this is not like the road, where if you do get a fast start and go, go, go, you get bit to settle down some.”
But Mactier added she still has “plenty to learn,” about her new pursuit.
“I’m shifting my priorities some,” she said. “I am looking forward to the Olympics in Athens and I think it’s just great that 2004 world championships are in Melbourne…”
Mactier’s Olympic aspirations have Van Moorsel concerned.
“Of course, she’s been on the track for a little more than a month,” she said. “I can’t imagine what it will be like next year. It’s inspiring me to work that much harder n my last year.”
Van Moorsel said that she has but two goals now that she has retirement in her sights.
“I want to do well at the Olympics again and I plan to try for the hour record in the fall,” she said.
Van Moorsel has already set aside time in October to attempt an assault on Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli’s mark of 45.094km, but she adds, too, that she may have to better her own world pursuit mark of 3:31.816 to fend off an Olympic charge from Mactier.
“You look at the times and she was on a world-record time,” Van Moorsel pointed out. “If she can maintain that, I will have to improve my time to 3:29 to get the gold medal.”
Stocher wins men’s world points crown
Franz Stocher gave small but vocal contingent of Austrian fans reason to celebrate Friday as he continued to improve on his points race performances of past years, finally earning the gold medal that had been eluding him since Manchester.
A crowd of red-shirted, horn-tooting Austrians took over a large section of the grandstand at Stuttgart’s velodrome, Friday afternoon, cheering on competitors in the host of other track events scheduled for the day. But it wasn’t until the points race that the real purpose of trip these Austrians made over the border became clear.
As the names of the 28 competitors were announced, red and white flags were broken out and the Austrians made sure their man knew he had fan support.
“He’s been so close, for so long we want to see him do it this year,” said one of the fans holding beer in one hand and long plastic noisemaker in the other.
Stocher, who began his points race medal streak in 2000 with a bronze, followed by another bronze and a silver, did not disappoint this year.
Stocher, who last year finished second to Britain’s Chris Newton, took 77 points from the 40km endurance race with its 20 intermediate sprints. The Austrian came in ahead of Spain’s Juan Llaneras (74) with Dutchman Jos Pronk (70) taking the bronze medal in third place.
Newton, who had led for a spell during the race before falling out of contention in the latter stages despite claiming five points for winning the final sprint, finished in fourth with 68.
Fiedler nicked by judges, then Tournant
German track star Jens Fiedler was delivered a blow by the judges on his way to being knocked out of the quarter-final of the men’s sprint here at the world track cycling championships on Friday.
Fiedler had won his two heats against Frenchman Arnaud Tournant in the quarter-finals event to see the judges declassify him for not keeping his line in the second heat.
Tournant, the four-time world kilometer champion who took a silver in his preferred event on Thursday, was handed the decision, which meant a deciding heat had to be called for.
However, the home favorite found the going tougher than he did in the first two heats of the event, where the riders jostle over two laps before they unleash their power in the final lap where the time is taken from the final 200 meters.
Tournant’s win was greeted with boos from the largely partisan crowd but the 25-year-old Frenchman simply turned a hand to his ear as the abuse reined down.
Tournant will now join compatriot Laurent Gane, the winner of the keirin on Thursday, in the semi-finals but will face off against Australian Jobie Dajka, who took the silver last year behind compatriot Sean Eadie, who is absent.
Gane will face off against Germany’s Rene Wolff.
Tournant admitted he had initially paid for his “momentary lack of concentration,” but the Frenchman said justice had been done.
“The start was a nightmare for me. It was entirely my own fault in the first heat where I just didn’t concentrate. After the second heat it was normal for the judges to have declassified Fiedler. The second bite at the cherry was all about pride for me. I’m not the kind of person who takes provocation lightly.”
Now, Tournant said, his focus is on Dajka.
“He’s not been riding fast time, but he’s still a great rider and I can’t afford to make any mistakes against him.”
Grankovskaya takes women’s keirin
Russia’s Svetlana Grankovskaya won the final round of the women’s keirin Friday night, producing a fearsome sprint off the final corner, easily beating Australian Anne Meares and fellow Russian Oxana Grishina to the line.
Team pursuit qualifying (first eight qualify)
1. Australia (Graeme Brown, Peter Dawson, Ashley Hutchinson,
Stephen Wooldridge) 4min 03.26sec,
2. Britain (Robert Hayles, Paul Manning, Bryan Steel, Bradley Wiggins)
3. France (Fabien Merciris, Jerome Neuville, Franck Perque, Fabien
4. New Zealand 4:08.063,
5. Russia 4:08.366,
6. Lithuania 4:09.278,
7. Spain 4:09.494,
8. Belarus 4:10.839,
9. Netherlands 4:11.193,
10. Denmark 4:12.870,
11. Czech Republic 4:14.213,
12. Poland 4:14.308,
13. Colombia 4:15.179,
12. Greece 4:17.154,
13. Italy 4:19.563
Final held Saturday
Last 16 (heats 1-6)
Laurant Gane (F) 10.94 beats Salvador Melia (SPA)
Jobie Dajka (Aus) 10.812 beats Greegorz Trebski (POL)
Jens Fiedler (G) 10.560 beats Ross Edgar (GBR)
Takashi Kaneko (JPN) beats Jose Antonio Villanueva (SPA) after
Rene Wolff (G) 10.6 beats Mickael Bourgain (F)
Arnaud Tournant (F) 10.733 beats Theo Bos (Nl)
Jose Antonio Villanueva (SPA) 10.671 beats Theo Bos (Nl) and
Salvador Melia (SPA)
Ross Edgar (GBR) 10.522 beats Mickael Bourgain (F) and Greegorz
Quarter-finals (winners to quarterfinals – Saturday)
Laurent Gane (F) 10.86 and 10.66 beats Edgar Ross (GBR) 2-0
Jobie Dajka (Aus) 10.70 and 10.62 beats Jose Antonio Villanueva
Arnaud Tournant (F) 10.795 beats Jens Fiedler (G) 2-1 after
Rene Wolff (G) 10.74 and 10.57 beats Takashi Kaneko (JPN) 2-0
1. Franz Stocher (A) 77,
2. Juan Llaneras (SPA) 74,
3. Jos Pronk (Nl) 70,
4. Chris Newton (GBR) 68,
5. Tomas Vaitkus (LTU) 57,
6. Milan Kadlec (Cz) 54,
7. Robert Sassone (F) 52,
8. Franco Marvulli (SWI) 51,
9. Leonardo Duque (COL) 48,
10. Andreas Muller 45 (G)
11. Gregory Henderson (NZL) 43,
12. Colby Pearce (USA) 35,
13. Mark Renshaw (Aus) 32,
14. Makoto Iijima (JPN) 30,
15. Mark Ernsting (CAN) 24
Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel (Nl) 3:32.65 beats Katie Mactier
Bronze medal match
Olga Slusareva (RUS) 3:31.93 beats Sarah Ulmer (NZL) 3:33.66
1. Svetlana Grankovskaya (RUS) 11.903,
2. Anna Meares (Aus)
3. OxanaGrishina (RUS)
4. Clara Sanchez (F)
5. Katrin Meinke (G)
6. Iryna Yanovych (UKR)
Daniela Larreal (VEN)
Diana Garcia (COL)
Celine Nivert (F)
Yvonne Hijgenaar (Nl)
Yumary Gonzalez (CUB)
Jennie Reed (USA)