American teenager Taylor Phinney added to his remarkable streak of results with a gold medal in the men's 4-kilometer individual pursuit Friday at the third round of the 2007-08 UCI Track World Cup Classics in Los Angeles.
Phinney, a 17-year-old Boulder High School senior, is quickly becoming a solid contender to represent the United States in the 2008 Olympic Games after just three months of track racing experience.
After winning a national title in his first-ever track race last October, Phinney placed a respectable ninth at the World Cup opener in Sydney. A week later he finished fourth at the Olympic Test Event in Beijing to establish himself as a rising star.
On Friday, Phinney claimed his first World Cup medal and is now considered a legitimate medal contender in Beijing.
In Friday morning's qualifying session, Phinney earned a spot in the gold medal final after clocking a 4:25.684 - the second-fastest time of the day behind top-seeded Jenning Huizenga (NED). In the ensuing head-to-head final, Phinney beat Huizenga by over two seconds to earn his first career world cup medal.
"This win gives me a lot of confidence if I qualify for the Games," said Phinney.
With consistent performances on the international stage, Phinney is now ranked second overall in the four-race UCI World Cup standings after three events with 21 points. The Ukraine's Volodymyr Dyudya is the current leader with 22. If Phinney wins the overall World Cup title, he'll earn himself a ticket to Beijing according the UCI's Olympic qualification procedures which awards World Cup champions with a start at the 2008 Olympic Games.
The final race on the 2007-08 World Cup circuit is scheduled for Feb. 15-17 in Ballerup, Denmark.
Even if Phinney doesn't win the overall World Cup title, his time of 4:25.684 eclipsed the automatic time standard of 4:31.630 which is needed for an automatic nomination to the U.S. Olympic Team.
Phinney's performance capped off a fast start for the U.S. contingent on the opening day of competition after Jennie Reed claimed a silver medal in the women's sprint and Sarah Hammer won her second consecutive World Cup bronze medal in the women's 3-kilometer individual pursuit.
After qualifying fourth in the 200-meter seeding round with a time of 11.413 seconds, Reed advanced to the quarterfinals with a win over Kaarie McColloch (AUS).
In the quarterfinals, Reed took two straight rides from Svetlana Grankovskaya (RUS) in the best-of-three format to advance to the semifinals. After falling behind 0-1 to Clara Sanchez (FRA), Reed rebounded with two straight victories to earn a spot in the finals against Natalia Tsylinskaya (BLR).
In the finals, Reed lost two straight to place second, matching a career-best finish at a World Cup in the sprint.
In the women's pursuit, Hammer, a two-time world champion, shaved three seconds off her qualifying time in the bronze medal final to place third. After qualifying fourth with a 3:41.006, Hammer faced Lada Kozlikova (CZE) in the consolation round where she rode a 3:38.001.
After earning the top seed with a 3:38.797, Lesya Kalitovska (UKR) won the gold medal over Maria Luisa Calle Williams (COL).
American Kristin Armstrong (Boise, Idaho) narrowly missed the chance to ride for a medal after qualifying fifth with a time of 3:41.016 - just one-hundredth of a second off the pace of Hammer. Neva Day (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) finished 25th for the U.S. in 3:58.666.
Although seven Americans competed in the women's 10-kilometer scratch race, the U.S. failed to come away with a medal despite significant representation. Entering the L.A. World Cup as the overall leader, Becky Quinn finished eighth as the top U.S. finisher after a group of four riders escaped and lapped the field. Quinn's performance dropped her to fifth in the overall World Cup standings.
Charlotte Becker (GER) outsprinted Evgeniya Romanyuta (RUS) and Elena Tchalykh (RUS) to take the victory.
In the men's 30-kilometer points race, two of four Americans advanced to the finals - Brad Huff and Mike Friedman - but neither found a place on the podium. Friedman was the top finisher with a 15th-place effort. He notched an early point in the 120-lap race's first intermediate sprint, but quickly fell behind after losing a lap to the main field. Friedman finished with -19 points while Huff did not finish.
Americans David McCook and Kenny Williams competed in the qualifying heats but did not advance to the finals. Australia's Cameron Meyer claimed the win with 23 points over Rafal Ratajczyk (POL) and Chris Newton (GBR) who scored 20 and 15 points respectively.
The Los Angeles World Cup continues on Saturday at the ADT Event Center velodrome at the Home Depot Center with several more events including finals of the women's 500-meter time trial, the men's team pursuit, the women's points race, the men's keirin, the men's kilometer time trial, the women's team sprint and the men's scratch race.
2008 UCI Track World Cup Classics
Los Angeles, Calif., January 18-20
Day One Results:
Women's Individual Pursuit
1. Lesya Kalitovska (UKR) 3:39.917
2. Maria Luisa Calle Williams (COL) 3:41.904
3. Sarah Hammer (Temecula, Calif.) 3:38.001
5. Kristin Armstrong (Boise, Idaho) 3:41.016
25. Neva Day (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) 3:57.659
1. Natalia Tsylinskaya (BLR)
2. Jennie Reed (Kirkland, Wash.)
3. Willy Kanis (NED)
Men's Individual Pursuit
1. Taylor Phinney (Boulder, Colo.) 4:26.093
2. Jenning Huizenga (NED) 4:28.241
3. Sergei Escobar (ESP) 4:34.495
Men's Team Sprint
1. Cofidis (GBR) 44.490
2. France 44.833
3. Australia 45.244
Men's 30-Kilometer Points Race
1. Cameron Meyer (AUS) 23
2. Rafal Ratajczyk (POL) 20
3. Chris Newton (GBR) 15
15. Mike Friedman (Pittsburgh, Pa.) -19
DNF. Brad Huff (Fair Grove, Mo.)
Women's 10-Kilometer Scratch Race
1. Charlotte Becker (GER)
2. Evgeniya Romanyuta (RUS)
3. Elena Tchalykh (RUS)
8. Becky Quinn (Quakertown, Pa.)
10. Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Cedar Springs, Mich.)
13. Shelley Olds (Saratoga, Calif.)
21. Lauren Franges (Asheville, N.C.)
© BikeRadar & USA Cycling 2008