Olympic pursuit champion Bradley Wiggins will defend his individual title against Dutchman Jenning Huizenga here at the world track cycling championships on Wednesday.
Huizenga sprung a surprise to beat Wiggins in qualifying for the medals rounds by posting a time of 4min 16.343sec in their heat. Wiggins finished in a time of 4:17.024, the second best of the field.
The two fastest times in qualifying go directly into the gold medal match-up, with the next two fastest times going directly to the bronze medal match-up.
Russian Alexei Markov posted the third fastest time and will meet New Zealand’s Hayden Roulston in the bronze medal duel.
Australian Brad McGee missed out on qualifying for the bronze medal match, finishing in fifth at two seconds behind Roulston, but in a promising time of 4:20 having had limited time on the track. Compatriots Luke Roberts and Phillip Thuaux also failed to qualify.
Wiggins was the only rider from the field expected to ride into the gold medal match, but the 27-year-old Englishman played with fire against his younger Dutch rival.
The previous best time of Huizenga, who only started track racing a-year-and-a-half ago, for the 4km event was around the 4:24.0 mark.Coming up against the world and Olympic champion gave him a spur, and the 23-year-old went on to record his best ever time.
“When I heard I was going to be against Wiggins in my heat it gave me huge motivation,” said Huizenga, who will celebrate his 24th birthday on Saturday.
McGee meanwhile boosted his bid for a place in the Australian men’s pursuit team, which endurance coach Ian McKenzie is set to name on Wednesday.
He was pleased with McGee’s efforts given the former world champion’s limited track rides this season.
“It would have been nice to be in there (medal rounds),” McKenzie told AFP.”Our real chance was McGee, but he hasn’t really done much track work and his last ride (in pursuit) was a 4:32, so he’s put in a reasonable ride.”
Aussie head coach Martin Barras was also pleased with McGee, a member of the four-man team that won the Olympic title in Athens four years ago.
Barras said the Aussie, who has recently joined the CSC team, is already looking ahead.
“For Brad to do a 4:20 here on limited track time is good,” said Barras.
“A little bit quicker and he would be in the medals. But he’s already mapping the way ahead.”
Qualifying (four fastest to medal rounds)
1. Jenning Huizenga (NED) 4:16.343
2. Bradley Wiggins (GBR) 4:17.024
3. Alexei Markov (RUS) 4:18.242
4. Hayden Roulston (NZL) 4:18.334
5. Bradley McGee (AUS) 4:20.430
6. David O’Loughlin (IRL) 4:20.910
7. Luke Roberts (AUS) 4:21.891
8. Taylor Phinney (USA) 4:22.358
9. Antonio Tauler (ESP) 4:22.654
10. Volodymyr Dyudya (UKR) 4:22.728
11. Alexander Serov (RUS) 4:22.742
12. Dominique Cornu (BEL) 4:22.786
13. Sergi Escobar (ESP) 4:24.127
14. Jens Mouris (NED) 4:24.475
15. Marc Ryan (NZL) 4:24.775
16. Robert Bartko (GER) 4:25.142