World Track Championships: World Records and Controversy dominate day one
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Wednesday, April 04, 2012

World Track Championships: World Records and Controversy dominate day one

by Ben Atkins at 7:54 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Track, World Championships
 
Great Britain breaks own Team Pursuit record; France and Germany interfere in pre-Olympic “Ashes” battle

The first big story on the first day of the World Track Championships in Melbourne, Australia, was the big “Ashes” battle between the host nation and Olympic champion Great Britain in the Team Pursuit. With the London Games less than four months away, the old rivalry was to have even more significance than usual.

The second story was rather more controversial, as three disqualifications in the Men’s Team Sprint qualification elevated Australia to the final, where it was to take an as-close-as-possible victory over France.

Men’s Team Pursuit: Great Britain breaks its own World Record

geraint thomasThe much anticipated battle between Olympic champion Great Britain and World champion 

Australia came down to just a tenth of a second as the British quartet - of Steven Burke, Ed Clancy, Peter Kennaugh and Geraint Thomas - who had qualified fastest (with Andy Tennant riding in place of Burke), broke its own World record, set in the Olympic final in Beijing, China four years ago.

Australia [made up of Glenn O’Shea, Jack Bobridge, Rohan Dennis and Michael Hepburn] was actually marginally faster over the first two kilometres, but Great Britain pulled past in the opening laps of the third kilometre, and managed to keep its nose in front for the remainder of the race; stopping the clock in a new best time of 3:53.295, at an average of 61.724kph, and 19-thousandths of a second quicker than its previous best.

“I didn't think we'd ride that time,” Thomas, who was part of the Olympic-winning team in 2008, told the BBC. “I am surprised that we broke the world record. “It was only in the last few days that we thought 'we're going to get close to this'. It's a great day.”

Australia’s time of 3:53.401, a little over a tenth of a second slower than Great Britain, will doubtless give the host nation some heart ahead of the summer’s Olympic Games.

In the ride off for the bronze medal the New Zealand team - of Aaron Gate, Sam Bewley, Westley Gough and Marc Ryan - beat the Russian team - of Artur Ershov, Evgeny Kovalev, Alexey Markov and Alexander Serov - in a time of 3:57.592.

Result Men's Team Pursuit
1. Great Britain 3:53.295 (WR)
2. Australia 3:53.401
3. New Zealand 3:57.592
4. Russia 3:59.237
5. Spain

Women’s Team Sprint: Germany spoils the home nation’s party

Having qualified fastest, in a new World record time of 32.630 - just over a tenth of a second faster than the time set by Great Britain in London in February - the German duo of Miriam Welte and Kristina Vogel beat Australian reigning World champions Anna Meares and Kaarle McCulloch in the final for gold.

Australia was two-tenths of a second after the opening lap, but Germany had cut that to just eight-hundredths by the halfway point of the second, and pulled clear by the finish line. The Australians’ time of 32.597 was good enough to break the Germans’ new record, but Welte and Vogel had gone faster still, with 32.549, in an average speed of 55.301kph.

Former World record holders, Great Britain’s Jess Varnish and Victoria Pendleton, qualified a disappointing fourth, behind China. Guo Shuang and Gon Jinjie duly beat the British pair in the ride off for bronze.

Result Women’s Team Sprint
1. Germany 32.549 (WR)
2. Australia 32.597
3. China 32.870
4. Great Britain 33.160
5. France

Men’s Team Sprint: Controversy allows Australia to win by the narrowest margin

Controversy in the Men’s Team Sprint saw Great Britain, Germany, the United States and Greece all disqualified in qualification for not changing over properly at the end of the first lap. With the French trio of Gregory Bauge, Kevin Sireau and Michael D’Almeida having qualified fastest, in 43.247, it looked as though they would have been riding against World champions Germany for the gold medal, but the disqualification meant that host nation Australia [Shane Perkins, Scott Sunderland and Matthew Glaetzer] were to be given a crack at the title.

In the final France nudged itself in front, as it had in qualification, and was still almost an eighth of a second clear as the final two riders changed over at the bell. A massive surge in the final lap however, saw the home nation just overhaul the final Frenchman to take the World title by an incredible one-thousandth of a second; the closest margin possible.

Australia were to have met Great Britain in the bronze medal race, but it would instead be between New Zealand and Japan. The All-Blacks just held on to take it in 43.812.

Result Men’s Team Sprint
1. Australia 43.266
2. France 43.267
3. New Zealand 43.812
4. Japan 43.896
5. China

Men’s Scratch Race: Great Britain’s Ben is the Swiftest over sixty laps

The only individual title of the night was taken by Great Britain’s Ben Swift, who won an aggressive Men’s Scratch Race with a powerful surge in the final ten laps of the sixty lap race. The 24-year-old Team Sky rider managed to overhaul what looked like a winning attack from Austria’s Andreas Mueller, catching him with two laps to go and then holding on to take the rainbow jersey ahead of South Africa’s Nolan Hoffman. The Netherlands’ Wim Stroetinga took the bronze medal just behind the first two.

A long attack from Swift in the first half of the race came to nothing, but it was followed by a much bigger move from the United States’ Bobby Lea, with Belgium’s Moreno De Pauw. The attack looked as though it would be good enough to take a lap on the field, especially when Australia’s Alexander Edmondson and Russia’s Ivan Savitsky managed to fight their way across. Almost as soon as they had come together though, there was a regrouping of the field.

This led to Mueller’s first attack, which was chased down, only for him to go again. The Austrian pulled out a huge gap, with Italy’s Elia Viviani giving chase; as the Liquigas-Cannondale rider began to fade however, Swift - with the Czech Republic’s Martin Blaha - surged past him and bore down on Mueller.

Swift and Blaha caught the Austrian at the bell and the British rider kicked again. He managed to pull clear of the rest; Hoffman’s late charge almost managed to overhaul Swift on the line, but he managed to hold on to take the title by half a length.

Result Men’s Scratch Race
1. Ben Swift (Great Britain)
2. Nolan Hoffman (South Africa)
3. Wim Stroetinga (Netherlands)
4. Alex Frame (New Zealand)
5. Martin Blaha (Czech Republic)

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