The Australian cycling team continued their near domination of this year’s world track championships winning another two gold medals to take their tally to four.
Anna Meares is proving to be their lynchpin as the sprinter took her second gold in two days, winning the women’s team sprint with Kaarle McCulloch setting two world records on the way.
The world record also fell in the women’s team pursuit, but not by the winners – Australia again – instead their antipodean rivals New Zealand beat the record during their ride for the bronze medal.
Australia beat Great Britain to gold, ending the Brits two year stint as world champions and leaving them with another silver medal. Wendy Houvenaghel, Jo Rowsell and Lizzie Armitstead held on to the Australian’s for the first half of the three kilometre race but failed to hold their pace over the later half.
With the Kiwi’s going faster than the Brits on their way to a lesser medal, tonight was proof that the womens’ events have moved on significantly since being introduced first to the world championships programme and latterly to the Olympic one.
The Union Cycliste International will no doubt make much fuss over the development of women’s cycling, and cite three world records in one night, using the last two days as justification of the changes they have made to the Olympic cycling schedule. But the fact remains there are few who believe dropping the men’s individual pursuit from the Olympics was a wise move.
The individual pursuit is a classic event. Simple and easy to follow for spectators while simultaneously demanding on the athletes. America’s Taylor Phinney successfully defended his individual pursuit title here in Copenhagen, beating Trek-Livestrong team mate Jesse Sergent (New Zealand) to the gold. It was a thrilling final, and one that left everyone in the stadium in no doubt that the fact this event wont be run in London 2012 is a travesty.
With their times of 4-16 and 4-18, Jack Bobridge’s 4-17 in qualifying and Geraint Thomas’s 4-15 from last October, the event has suddenly hotted up. Four riders with the ability to win this title makes Bradley Wiggins’ domination of this event with similar times seem a long time ago.
Hoy to the rescue
Just as the British team looked to be losing any trace of their invincible aura up stepped their talisman. Sir Chris Hoy is not only the most brilliant sprinter of a generation, he is also the most reliable – two traits that are rare bedfellows.
The Scot came here chasing his tenth world title, but also with the memory of his 2009 crash on this very track still fresh in his mind. What’s more, none of his competitors were willing to give way to a knight of the realm. In fact they were prepared to do almost anything to stop him winning.
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In his first round race he was sent sprawling almost as soon as the starters pistol had sounded. Malaysia’s Josiah Ng came racing down the track from his starting position taking out Hoy’s front wheel. There was nothing the Scot could do, but luckily the crash did nothing more than leave some dust from the track smeared on his skinsuit.
Ng was duly disqualified and Hoy went on to win the heat. The second round went without a hitch, but in the final his opponents were at it again.
When the starting pistol sounded, New Zealand’s Sam Webster raced to the front, pushing Hoy, who was below Webster in the starting line-up on to the track’s blue ribbon. This in turn pushed Awang off the track and the ripple effect saw the final restarted.
On the second start it was German Maximillian Levy who bust a gut to get in front of Hoy and take the prime position behind the derny. Hoy’s competitors know how he likes to win the keirin from the front, and how hard he is to pass when he does, and none of them were about to let him have that crucial position.
But it mattered not. Once the derny had swung off, Hoy waited for riders to come over the top of him before using their momentum to catapult himself to the front with a little under two laps to go. Once at the front it was a case of hanging on.
In Hoy’s prime his opponents can barely hold his wheel, but he is not in his prime, and Awang, a tiny but exceptionally quick sprinter from Malaysia was closing in on Hoy as the line approached. Thankfully the Scot held on, and for all their talk of focusing on the process rather than the medals at the end, there were some relieved looking GB coaching staff in the track centre once Hoy had won.
The British trio of Wendy Houvenaghel, Jo Rowsell and Lizzie Armsitstead ride to a silver medal
WORLD TRACK CHAMPIONSHIPS BRIEF RESULTS
Men’s individual pursuit
Taylor Phinney (USA) 4:16.600 bt Jesse Sergent (NZL) 4:18.459
Jack Bobridge (AUS) 4:18.066 bt 4. Alexander Serov (RUS) 4:21.263
Women’s team sprint
Australia (Anna Meares, kaarle McCulloch) 32.923 bt China (Jinjie Gong, Junhong Lin) 33.192
Lithuania (Gintare Gaivenyte, Simona Krupeckaite) 33.109 bt Great Britain (Victoria Pendleton, Jessica Varnish) 33.593
Women’s team pursuit
Australia (Ashlee Ankudinoff, Sarah Kent, Josephine Tomic) 3:21.748 bt Great Britain (Wendy Houvenaghel, Jo Rowsell, Lizzie Armitstead) 3:22.287
New Zealand (Rushlee Buchanan, Lauren Ellis, Alison Shanks) 3:21.552 bt United States (Dotsie Bausch, Sarah Hammer, Lauren Tamayo) 3:24.571
1. Chris Hoy (GBR)
2. Azizulhasni Awang (MAS)
3. Maximillian Levy (GER)
7. Matthew Crampton (GBR)
Men’s scratch race
1. Alex Rasmussen (DEN)
2. Juan Carvajal (Col)
3. Kazuhiro Mori (JPN)
5. Chris Newton (GBR)
2010 Track World Champs: Reports/results
Day two: Thursday, March 25
Day one: Wednesday, March 24
Day one: Meyer and Meares put Aussies on top of the world
2010 Track World Championships: Results
Day one as it happened (text coverage): Wednesday, March 24
Houvenaghel qualifies second fastest in pursuit
2010 Track World Champs: Photos
2010 Track World Champs: News and features
Track cycling: Information
International track results 2009-10
International track results 2008-09
International track results 2007-08
CW’s Dummies Guide to… Track Racing
Cycling Weekly Rider Profiles: Index