Olympic track day 2: Wiggins, Hoy and Llaneras win gold

Romero and Houvenaghel to meet in women's pursuit final

Bradley Wiggins defends Olympic pursuit crown

Englishman Bradley Wiggins successfully defended his Olympic crown when he won the individual pursuit track cycling gold medal for Britain here on Saturday.

New Zealand's Hayden Roulston took the silver medal with Britain's Steven Burke winning the bronze.

The 27-year-old Wiggins clocked a time of four minutes 16.9 seconds for the 4,000 metres race against the clock in a final which saw Roulston lead for the first 2,000 metres before trailing in the closing stages. The Kiwi eventually finished nearly three seconds off the winning pace in 4:19.6.

"It was a special occasion to get the job done and win gold," said Wiggins, who admitted he had decided not to try anything too ambitious after setting a new Olympic record of 4:15.031 on Friday.

"Yesterday was hard, the 4:16 this evening was controlled. The final was hard, but I couldn't risk trying to race too easily."

Victory meant Wiggins, already Britain's most decorated Olympic cyclist, has won his fifth Olympic medal - the first of three possible golds at these Games. The Belgian-born time trial specialist will also spearhead Britain's pursuit team then pair up with Mark Cavendish in a bid to add Olympic gold to the Madison world title they won in March.

With victory in the coveted team event in mind, Wiggins added: "I had to play it safe, not chase world records," he said. "Three other guys (in the team) deserved to be in this race. It was the least I could do for them."

Wiggins, who already has an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) medal from Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, saw his second Olympic gold medal cap an emotional period in his life after he lost his father earlier this year.

Meanwhile Roulston's first Olympic medal was the latest chapter in the remarkable story of a man whose sport might have cost him his life.

Roulston's silver came just two years after he made a dramatic return to cycling having been diagnosed with a heart condition. Known as arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia, it left him short of breath, pushed his heart rate to dangerous levels, and put him at risk of dying every time he got on his bike.

He returned to cycling after embracing a Japanese hands-on healing process known as 'reiki'.

Roulston, who says he no longer suffers from the condition, admitted he was emotional even before the final.

"I can't believe it. I knew I was going to be thereabouts," said the Kiwi. "I was pretty emotional before I went out there. It's a pretty big deal."

The New Zealander admitted he was buoyed by doing three rides inside the highly respected mark of 4:20, which is still far slower than British cycling great Chris Boardman's longstanding world record of 4:11.114. And he has promised to return in four years time to challenge Wiggins at the London Olympics.

"Three rides at 4:19, a silver medal, I've got to be pretty happy," added Roulston. "I wouldn't change a thing. I'll be back in 2012 to give it another crack. I think I've proved my point."

Chris Hoy crowned Olympic keirin king

Britain's Chris Hoy claimed his second gold medal of the Beijing Olympics and third of his career when he powered his way unchallenged to the men's keirin crown here on Saturday.

Fellow Scot Ross Edgar finished second in the six-man final to take the silver medal with Japan's Kiyofumi winning the bronze.

Hoy, who anchored Britain's sprint team to gold ahead of France on Friday, is the reigning champion in the now defunct Olympic event of the kilometre.

The 32-year-old had made his way into the final with relative ease and was simply unstoppable again in the battle for gold, taking a significant lead before the bell signaling the final lap and driving home to the finish unchallenged.

In his wake, Edgar put in a late burst to finish just ahead of Nagai to claim a well deserved silver that will comfort him after he had been ousted from Britain's sprint team on Friday in favour of 20-year-old Jason Kenny.

Australian Shane Kelly finished fourth, ahead of Germany's Carsten Bergemann and Frenchman Arnaud Tournant. It was the last Olympic race for 14-time world champion Tournant, who claimed silver in the team sprint on Friday.

Joan Llaneras defies time to claim second Olympic gold

Spaniard Joan Llaneras produced a stunning display of endurance and sprint riding at the Laoshan Velodrome to reclaim his Olympic crown in the men's track cycling points race.

Germany's Roger Kluge took the silver with Britain's Christopher Newton taking the bronze.

Llaneras, 39, reclaimed the title he won at Sydney in 2000 after a stunning ride in the 160-lap race which he finished with 60 points. Kluge, the halfway leader, finished on 58 with Newton on 56.

"The race was very difficult for the first part. Only in the second part could I go around the group twice for the Gold medal," Llaneras said before paying tribute to his late Madison partner, Isaac Galvez who died in a tragic track cycling accident in November 2006

"I remember all the people who support me. At this very moment, I remember Isaac."

Llaneras was relatively quiet in the early stages of the race but made one of several decisive moves two laps ahead of the bell signaling the 10th of the race's 16 sprints where the first four riders over the line can respectively win five, three, two and one point.

Llaneras shouted at Kam Po Wong of Hong Kong to move out of his way as he chased down Milton Wynants of Uruguay, and after taking five points he continued his ride to gain a lap on the peloton, thus picking up 20 points.

That moved him up to second place but Llaneras was joined in the top five of the leaderboard by Newton and Kluge, who had followed his lead and took 20 points each. Before the bell for the 13th sprint Llaneras and Newton then broke away together, the Spaniard taking five points to the Briton's three.

Their pace then allowed them to gain a further 20 points each for gaining a lap on a tiring bunch, pushing Llaneras into first place ahead of Kluge with Newton moving up to second.

Kluge was pushed down into third place but the German picked up two points to Llaneras's one when he burst ahead to take third place on the 14th sprint behind Vasili Kiryienka of Belarus and Greg Henderson of New Zealand.

Llaneras then went on to virtually secure his second Olympic gold when he held off Newton on the penultimate sprint, where he picked up two points to the Englishman's one

"I knew in the penultimate sprint I had no more chance to get gold," said Kluge. "The Spanish cyclist had too many points. I'm happy, it's my first Olympics and I've been able to win a medal."

Newton, in his fourth Olympics, was equally delighted to be on the podium. "It means so much and I owe so much to my wife and baby girl back home. I haven't seen them at all very much for the past year."  

Rebecca Romero races into Olympic history books

Britain's Rebecca Romero is assured of writing a page in the Olympic history books after qualifying Saturday for the women's individual pursuit final alongside compatriot Wendy Houvenaghel.

Romero, who won an Olympic rowing silver four years ago in the women's quadruple sculls, clocked a time of three minutes 27.7 seconds in her heat against Australian Katie Mactier, who failed to make the medal rounds.

New Zealand's Alison Shanks will meet Ukrainian Lesya Kalitovska in the bronze medal match.

The 28-year-old Romero is the reigning world champion in the 3,000 metre race against the clock and is now being tipped to land further gold for the pace-setting British track team.

It promises, however, to be a hotly-contested final on Sunday.

Houvenaghel, a bronze medallist at world level, posted the fastest time in qualifying Friday and almost matched Romero's performance on Saturday in a time of 3:27.8.

"Wendy is an awesome athlete," said Romero, who is sure of becoming just the second woman in Olympic history, and the first from Britain, to win medals from two different sports at the summer Games.

Roswitha Krause, of the former East Germany, won a swimming silver at the 1968 Games in Mexico from the women's 4x100m relay. She then won silver in the women's handball final at the 1976 Games in Montreal, and won handball bronze at Moscow in 1980.

Another athlete, American Tim Shaw, won a swimming silver medal in Montreal in 1976 and a water polo silver in Los Angeles eight years later.

"I'm really pleased," beamed Romero. "I've had coaches taking me aside and telling me I've made history! Now I have at least got the silver. I've had a smile on my face about that. There's no other athlete in the (Olympic) village that can say that."

Houvenaghel will appear in her first Olympic final, but says the thought of facing Romero is not worrying her.

"Whatever happens tomorrow (Sunday), it's really got nothing to do with who it's against, it's getting my best (performance) out," she said. "I can't change anything or give any more."

American favourite Sarah Hammer failed to make the final after being upstaged in heat one by Shanks, who posted a time of 3:32.4.

The women's world record for the individual pursuit is still held by retired New Zealander Sarah Ulmer, who clocked 3:24.537 on her way to gold at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.  

For full results, reports and photos, visit Cyclingews.com.

© AFP 2008

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