Australia lays down the Olympic challenge on final night of London Track World Cup
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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Australia lays down the Olympic challenge on final night of London Track World Cup

by Ben Atkins at 12:39 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Track, Race Reports and Results
Third fastest ever Team Pursuit to put pressure on Great Britain; second gold for Hoy; close-as-possible Omnium glory for Hammer

jack bobridgeThere was more excitement in the new London Velodrome in the final night of of racing the World Cup event, the rehearsal for the summer’s Olympics. Arguably the biggest rivalry in international track cycling, between the Team Pursuit squads of Australia and Great Britain, took another twist as the southern hemisphere team posted the third fastest time ever. The teams will almost certainly meet again at the Melbourne World championships, and in the Olympic final, so the psychological blow struck by Australia will serve them well.

Great Britain’s Beijing hero Sir Chris Hoy posted his own marker for the upcoming Olympic Games, with victory in the sprint; his second gold of the weekend. The Women’s Keirin went to World Cup leader Simona Krupeckaite of Lithuania, with both Australian World champion Anna Meares, and home favourite Victoria Pendleton tired after a hard weekends sprinting.

In an exciting women’s Omnium, the competition came down to the last of the six events, with the final result as close as it’s possible to be.

Men’s Team Pursuit: Australia throws down the Olympic gauntlet
In what could - and should be a preview of the World and Olympic finals later in the year, the Australian team of Jack Bobridge, Rohan Dennis, Alexander Edmondson and Michael Hepburn laid down a challenge to the host nation, Great Britain, by posting a time of 3:54.615 - the third fastest ever - to take the Team Pursuit gold. Great Britain - Steven Burke, Ed Clancy, Peter Kennaugh and Geraint Thomas - was out of the blocks far faster than its big rival, opening up a lead of almost a second in the first few laps; the home team was ahead at the end of the first kilometre, but the Australian fightback had already begun and, by the end of the four kilometre race, was a second and a half ahead.

The New Zealand team of Sam Bewley, Aaron Gate, Westley Gough and Marc Ryan managed to go inside four minutes in the ride off for bronze, beating the Belgian team of Ingmar De Poortere, Dominique Cornu, Kenny De Ketele and Jonathan Dufrasne by more than five seconds.

Men’s Team Pursuit Result
1. Australia (Jack Bobridge, Rohan Dennis, Alexander Edmondson and Michael Hepburn)
2. Great Britain (Steven Burke, Ed Clancy, Peter Kennaugh and Geraint Thomas)
3. New Zealand (Sam Bewley, Aaron Gate, Westley Gough and Marc Ryan)
4. Belgium (Ingmar De Poortere, Dominique Cornu, Kenny De Ketele and Jonathan Dufrasne)

Men’s Sprint: Hoy shows who’s the master in an Olympic year
Following his victory in the Keirin the previous day, Sir Chris Hoy of Great Britain showed that he is well and truly back, ahead of the summer’s Olympic Games, with a straightforward victory in the Sprint. Having qualified the fastest - as the only rider to go below ten seconds - Hoy cruised his way through the knockout rounds (although he took all three rides to overcome Gregory Bauge of France) to meet Maximilian Levy of Germany in the final.

Having lost the first race in a tight sprint, Levy elected to go early in the second; this played into Hoy’s hands though, and the former Kilometre World champion powered past the German with more than a lap to go and held it all the way to the line; taking the contest two-zero.

The fight for bronze between German Robert Forstemann and Frenchman Kevin Sireau went to three races, but a cheeky move from Forstemann - who attacked immediately and sprinted the whole three lap race - saw the German take the final medal.

Men’s Sprint Result
1. Chris Hoy (GBr) Great Britain
2. Maximilian Levy (Ger) Germany
3. Robert Forstemann (Ger) Germany
4. Kevin Sireau (Fra) France
5. Jason Kenny (GBr) Great Britain

Women’s Keirin: Krupekaite wins as favourites tire
With World champion Anna Meares of Australia, and home favourite Victoria Pendleton of Great Britain both visibly tired after their epic sprint battle of the previous day, World Cup leader Simona Krupekaite of Lithuania came away an easy victor in the women’s Keirin. Meares made an early bid for the line, with more than a lap remaining, but the experienced Australian clearly didn’t have the legs to sustain the move, and was swept up before the final bend and faded to sixth and last place by the line.

Pendleton fared no better, as the Briton found herself a long way back as the pace began to rise; she tried to come around the outside, but did not have the necessary energy to do so. Krupekaite, constantly positioned near the front, coolly cruised past the struggling Meares to hit the line well clear of Lee Wai Sze of Hong Kong, and the previous day’s sprint winner, Guo Shuang of China.

Women’s Keirin Result
1. Simona Krupekaite (Ltu) Lithuania
2. Lee Wai Sze (HKg) Hong Kong
3. Guo Shuang (Chn) China
4. Lyubov Shulika (Ukr) Ukraine
5. Victoria Pendleton (GBr) Great Britain

Women’s Omnium: Sarah Hammer takes it by the closest possible margin
World champion Tara Whitten of Canada, setting off in the final pair of riders against overnight leader Annette Edmondson of Australia, was the fastest in the Individual Pursuit in a time of 3:31.604; a time that would have been good enough to win the Individual Pursuit event the previous evening. Whitten beat Laura Trott by almost five seconds, who had gone up against, - and beaten - World pursuit champion and record holder Sarah Hammer of the United States; the margin was immaterial however, since the only important thing is the position, and she only took one point out of the British rider, and two out of the American.

Tatsiana Sharakova of Belarus managed to take a lap in the Scratch Race, and was the only one able to do so, which assured her of victory regardless of where she finished on the line. A long solo attack from Charlotte Becker of Germany in the middle of the race almost managed to reach the back of the peloton, but the Specialized-lululemon rider couldn’t quite make it and drifted back again. Hammer attacked off the front with two laps to go, and managed to hold on to win the sprint; that second place - and with Trott back in ninth, Whitten in 12th, and Edmondson sixth - the American took the overall lead, with only the 500 metre time trial to come.

Trott was the fastest over the two lap time trial, with her time of 35.642 just three-thousandths of a second quicker than Scratch Race winner Sharakova. The local rider needed poor performances from those around her to take the title on her home track though, and, while Hammer and Edmondson in the final ride off were both slower than she had been, they were high enough up the classification to decide the overall victory between them.

Fifth for Hammer, and third for Edmondson, put both riders on 30 points a the end, but it was the American’s superiority in the other timed events that saw her take the gold medal.

Result Individual Pursuit
1. Tara Whitten (Can) Canada
2. Laura Trott (GBr) Great Britain
3. Sarah Hammer (USA) United States
4. Kirsten Wild (Ned) Netherlands
5. Annette Edmondson (Aus) Australia

Result Scratch Race
1. Tatsiana Sharakova (Blr) Belarus
2. Sarah Hammer (USA) United States
3. Huang Li (Chn) China
4. Jolien D’Hoore (Bel) Belgium
5. Jo Kiesanowski (NZl) New Zealand

Result 500m Time Trial
1. Laura Trott (GBr) Great Britain
2. Tatsiana Sharakova (Blr) Belarus
3. Annette Edmondson (Aus) Australia
4. Tara Whitten (Can) Canada
5. Sarah Hammer (USA) United States

Final overall standings
1. Sarah Hammer (USA) United States 30pts
2. Annette Edmondson (Aus) Australia 30
3. Laura Trott (GBr) Great Britain 32
4. Tara Whitten (Can) Canada 34
5. Tatsiana Sharakova (Blr) Belarus 41


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