Brits golden in Manchester
The host country cleaned up at the final round of the track world cup series in Manchester over the weekend, with British riders taking gold medals in seven of the fourteen events and Britain’s Chris Hoy grabbing the 15,000-Euro first prize in the Japanese Keirin Association keirin.
With five weeks to go to the world championships in Mallorca, the home team put on a powerful display for near-capacity crowds over the weekend, kicking off with yet another kilo time trial win for Chris Hoy in the first final of the weekend.
Australia grabbed its only medal of the weekend in the World Cup keirin, as Shane Perkins stayed up while four other riders in the six-man final crashed. Perkins led in Tang Qi of China while the rest of the field gradually picked themselves up.
Cuba’s Yoanka Gonzalez Perez won the women’s points race by steadily accumulating points over the race, and making sure none of the attacks stuck, neutralising enthusiastic competition from Australia’s Belinda Goss.
In another British win, Victoria Pendleton took on Shuang Guo (China) in the women’s sprint final and demonstrated her class by beating Guo in the first two heats of the final.
The anticipated battle of the Bradleys in the men’s individual pursuit failed to happen as Australia’s Brad McGee only qualified third. Britain’s Brad Wiggins beat Alexander Serov (Russia) in the final, while McGee comfortably took the bronze.
A twelve-man breakaway shaped Friday’s last event, the men’s scratch race. The dozen formed from an initial six-man break that lapped the field and was joined by six more as the shattered bunch tried to organise itself. Rafat Ratajczyk (Poland) took the sprint finale for the win.
The British team started the second day of racing with two wins as Victoria Pendleton continued her domination of the sprint events with a win in the 500m time trial. Shortly afterwards, the men’s pursuit team demolished the Russian team, catching them with a couple of laps to go.
Serguei Klimov (Russia) put on a dominating display in the men’s points race, taking three laps and winning three sprints for a huge 77 points total.
The women’s individual pursuit gold medal final was an all-British affair with Wendy Houvenhagel (Science in Sport) facing off against Rebecca Romero, a former Olympic rower who has been racing bikes for less than a year. Houvenhagel’s experience paid off, but Romero showed she is a rider to watch over the next few years.
Kilometre world record holder Arnaud Tournant (France) upset the British sprint domination with a win in the men’s sprint against Chris Hoy. Beating Hoy in just two heats, Tournant proved that he may not be as fast over the longer distance as he once was, but he still has formidable speed over 200m.
Yvonne Hijgenaar and Willy Kanis of the Netherlands were convincingly faster than Great Britain’s Anna Blyth and Shanaze Reade in the women’s team sprint. The young British duo’s performance was arguably hurt by Reade sprinting for almost an entire lap after the Dutch pair false-started.
On the final day, the Netherlands pairing of Peter Schep and Jens Mouris won the Madison by staying a lap up on the field after putting themselves there with 55 laps to go. Britain’s Rob Hayles and Geraint Thomas twice attempted to catapult themselves up a lap after taking sprints, but had to settle for second.
Jianling Wang (China) won a women’s scratch race that was animated by eventual second place Belinda Goss (Australia) and marred by a penultimate-lap crash that took out about half a dozen riders.
In yet another British win, Victoria Pendleton was too powerful for Shuang Guo (China) and Oksana Grishina (Russia). Guo led out, but Pendleton powered past her, bringing Grishina along and pushing Guo into bronze position.
Chris Hoy credited his team-mates Ross Edgar and Craig Maclean with responsibility for the final world cup victory of the weekend after the trio powered round the three-lap team sprint in a storming 44.1 seconds.
It was Hoy again in the final event of the day, the invitation-only keirin sponsored by the Japanese Keirin Association. In a beautiful display of team tactics, Hoy grabbed the wheel of the derny, then opened a gap for Ross Edgar. After Edgar slotted in, the two swapped positions and when the bike peeled off, Hoy unleashed his kilo speed. Edgar backed off enough to create a gap to Hoy that would be hard to bridge and by the time Teun Mulder (Netherlands) realized what was happening it was too late. Mulder put in a valiant effort to take second but there was still plenty on the line between him and a jubilant Hoy.