In the second day of Olympic track cycling competition at the Laoshan Velodrome on Saturday, Americans failed to advance to the medal rounds of both the men's and women's individual pursuit as both Sarah Hammer and Taylor Phinney were eliminated from contention in their respective first-round matchups.
Seeded seventh after his performance in Friday's qualifying session, Phinney lost his first round match which pitted him against New Zealand's Hayden Roulston. Phinney recorded a time of 4 minutes, 26.644 seconds over 4,000 meters, while Roulston advanced to the gold-medal final with a time of 4:19.232.
Without advancing past the first round, Phinney was credited with a seventh-place finish overall. With his top-eight performance, the 18-year-old Phinney achieved the objective he set for himself in what should be his first of many appearances in the Olympic Games.
"It's my first Olympics," Phinney noted after losing to Roulston. "I'll be back for more. My goal was to qualify and race two days."
Phinney, the son of 1984 Olympic medalists Davis Phinney and Connie Carpenter-Phinney, closed out a remarkable season that saw him finish seventh on the sport's biggest stage after racing only 11 competitive individual pursuit heats since introducing himself to sport last October.
As Phinney's counterpart in the women's field, Hammer also fell in her first round match against New Zealander Alison Shanks. Seeded fifth, Hammer clocked a 3:34.237, while Shanks put down a 3:32.478 over a distance of 3,000 meters.
For Hammer, the two-time world champion (2006-07) and American record holder, finishing out of medal contention in the pursuit came as a surprise considering her two-year reign as the best 3,000-meter rider in the world. Although plagued by a lingering back injury throughout most of the last year, Hammer didn't make any excuses for her performance in Beijing.
"What are you going to do?" Hammer asked after being ousted by Shanks. "I didn't give up out there, it just wasn't my day. The legs just weren't holding up."
For Phinney, his competition in Beijing is over, but Hammer has a chance to redeem herself in Monday night's points race. Although capable of winning a medal in the mass-start race, referenced by past World Cup wins, Hammer hasn't specifically trained for the tactical and often times unpredictable race. Still, her talent alone puts her in the mix of medal contenders.
"It's a totally different animal," Hammer said of the points race. "I've got one more chance to try and go for it. I'm experienced enough and ready to go."
Saturday's track session also featured two other Americans as Giddeon Massie competed in the men's keirin and Bobby Lea contested the points race. After placing third and failing to advance in his first round heat, Massie was eliminated from competition when he finished fourth in the ensuing repechage.
In the points race, Lea played the role of early aggressor when he lapped the field almost immediately, scoring 20 points. But the move that earned him an early advantage ultimately cost him the race. The effort took its toll shortly afterwards when he was later lapped by the field twice, losing the 20 points he initially gained, plus another 20. Recognizing that the deficit was insurmountable, Lea withdrew from the race.
Track racing continues on Sunday with only two Americans in action as Michael Blatchford and Jennie Reed will compete in the 200-meter qualifying round of the match sprint. The men's 1/16 and 1/8 finals, as well as the women's 1/8 finals of the sprint, are also scheduled for Sunday.
2008 Olympic Games
Beijing, China: August 8-24
Men's Individual Pursuit
1. Bradley Wiggins (GBR) 4:16:977
2. Hayden Roulston (NZL) 4:19.611
3. Steven Burke (GBR) 4:20.947
7. Taylor Phinney (Boulder, Colo.) 4:26.644
1. Chris Hoy (GBR)
2. Shane Kelly (AUS)
3. Arnaud Tournant (FRA)
21. Giddeon Massie (Zionhill, Pa.)
Men's Points Race
1. Joan Llaneras (ESP) 60
3. Chris Newton (GBR) 56
DNF. Bobby Lea (Mertztown, Pa.)
© BikeRadar & USA Cycling 2008