The stars to look out for at the velodrome
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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The stars to look out for at the velodrome

by Agence France-Presse at 1:41 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Track
The Olympic track cycling competition is held at the Laoshan Velodrome from August 15-19. Here are some of the stars to look out for over the 10 gold medal events.

Bradley Wiggins (GBR) The Englishman won a medal of every colour in Athens four years ago, is the fastest in the world over 16 laps of the track and is favourite to defend his Olympic four-kilometre title. With the pursuit team, Belgium-born Wiggins claimed the new world record at the world championships in Manchester in March. Here, he will compete in a third potential gold medal event in the Madison, in which he is the world champion with Mark Cavendish.

Chris Hoy (GBR) The big Edinbugh-born Scot has adapted superbly to the removal of the kilometre event, in which he is Olympic champion, from the programme. Hoy has turned his talents to the sprint events, winning the keirin world title for the past two years and becoming world sprint champion for the first time in March. Also competing in the team sprint, Hoy has a chance of three golds. But he faces a demanding schedule and an even tougher battle from his rivals.

Theo Bos (NED) Known as the 'Boss', the Dutchman comes into the Games with scores to settle. He won silver in the sprint at Athens, and flopped badly at this year's world championships where he was dominated by Hoy in both the sprint and the keirin. At the Games, expect Bos to step up a level.

Kevin Sireau (FRA) Considered one of the greatest sprinters to emerge from France since Florian Rousseau, Sireau is competing at his first Olympics. But the 21-year-old comes in with a healthy pedigree that has impressed all his rivals. Physically imposing, fresh and bursting with talent, he lost to an unstoppable Hoy over two legs at the world championships. A former kilometre specialist, Sireau will ride in the middle for France's world champion three-man team sprint on Friday.

Rebecca Romero (GBR) After winning silver at Athens in the rowing discipline of quadruple sculls, Romero fell in love with track cycling. Her passion has blossomed, and she comes into the Games as the reigning world individual pursuit champion. Used to the demands of Olympic competition, Romero will be tough to beat. If she wins just a medal, she will become only the second woman in history to win medals in two different sports in the Summer Olympics.

Anna Meares (AUS) Meares is arguably the Aussies' best chance of gold, despite the fact she will compete in only one event - the sprint. A bronze medallist from Athens, the 24-year-old Queenslander is the reigning Olympic champion in the 500 metre time-trial, which is no longer on the programme. Meares is desperate to get back on the world stage, having missed the world championships through injury after crashing horribly at the Los Angeles leg of the 2008 World Cup.

Marianne Vos (NED) The Dutch phenomenon is only 21 years old, and has already won world titles on the road, in cyclo-cross and the track. After a mediocre performance in the women's road race here, Vos will go into the women's points race as the reigning world champion. Along with Bos, Vos could bring smiles to the 'Oranje' fans.

Arnaud Tournant (FRA) With an impressive 14 world titles, the fiery and outspoken Tournant is one of French track cycling's most successful riders. His career began at the age of 16, but it will end at Laoshan when he bids for Olympic gold as part of France's three-man sprint team and in the keirin before retirement. Still the kilometre world record-holder, he deserves a champion's farewell.

Victoria Pendleton (GBR) Britain's 'Queen of the Sprint' is the woman expected to dominate the event, one of only three women's track competitions, at the Games. A three-time world champion, Pendleton possesses power, stamina and a refined sense of tactics. As the reigning world champion, the 27-year-old is also the world's fastest.

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