Athens 2004: Aussies dominate final day on track
Tuesday, August 24, 2004 11.00pm
Three gold medals were left to play for on the final day of the track cycling in Athens - and Austra
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE The women's points race and men's Madison and Keirin events were the final three track cycling events to take place of these Olympic Games, and the Australian track team consolidated their position as the most successful nation at the Athens velodrome through Ryan Bayley, Graeme Brown and Stuart O'Grady. Russia's Olga Slyusareva took the first of the day's three gold medals still on offer on Wednesday, convincingly winning the women's points race ahead of Mexico's Belem Guerrero Mendez and Maria Luisa Calle Williams of Colombia. The experienced Slyusareva had made the top step of the podium hers already by the penultimate sprint having easily won three out of the previous four sprints. Australian pairing Stuart O'Grady and Graeme Brown, who both also ride on the road for the European Cofidis and Ceramiche Panaria teams respectively, teamed up to show the rest how to ride the Madison. O'Grady, who had returned to his home in Toulouse, France, after riding the Olympic road race the previous week, decided to come back to Athens to compete in the Madison after being inspired by the success of his compatriots on the track. The two Australians took control early on in the 50-kilometre race to come home with 22 points against silver medal-winning Swiss pairing Franco Marvulli and Bruno Risi's 15 points, with British pairing Bradley Wiggins and Rob Hayles in third with 12 points. Hayles crashed with 90 of the 200 laps to go, which put him and Wiggins a lap down in seventh place, but a superb late effort, and the resultant lap brought back, put the British duo in second place with just the final sprint for five, three, two and one points to ride for. The Swiss, though, were too strong, taking the maximum five points on the finish line. Wiggins and Hayles, however, the latter complete with ripped shorts, looked far from disappointed to have taken bronze. In the final of the men's Keirin - with current world champion, Britain's Jamie Staff, a notable absentee after having been disqualified from riding in the final after an infringement in the second round [see separate story] - the newly-crowned Olympic sprint champion Ryan Bayley of Australia stormed to the front with half a lap to go, and was never in any danger of being caught. A crash in the final straight brought down France's Mickael Bourgain, and appeared to have kept Bayley's compatriot Shane Kelly out of the medals, but a later decision relegated Germany's Rene Wolff and Malaysia's Josiah Ng to fifth and sixth respectively, and Kelly moved up to take the bronze. Spain's Jose Escuredo took silver.
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